We hesitated when writing “national treasure,” because the term is such a cliché, but in the case of Ruth Stone at 96, there is no better way to describe her economically. Books can and should be written of Stone’s life and how after the death of her beloved husband, Walter, she became a nomadic mother and poet, going from college to college to teach poetry and earn a living. Finally, at age 74, she gained tenure and a modicum of security at New York State’s SUNY-Binghamton campus.
She’s won too many awards to enumerate, including two Guggenheim Fellowships. About Stone’s work, Galway Kinnell has written: “Her poems startle us over and over with their shapeliness, their humor, their youthfulness, their wild aptness, their strangeness, their sudden familiarity, the authority of their insights, the moral gulps they prompt, their fierce exactness of language and memory.”
Here on a blessed Poetry Friday we offer you Ruth Stone in film and radio portraits. She is still beautiful, ever powerful and one of the great gifts to American poetry. Listen here to her National Public Radio portrait, watch below. Sit back and be inspired and awed.