Monday, September 28, 2020

The Essential Ruth Stone: Out Now!!!

I'm filled with all the feelings, my grandmother, my mentor--I am so honored to have had the chance to edit this book, to go deep into every printed word she wrote, making an opportunity for new readers to see the incredible breadth of her poetry, and genius.

Huge thanks to Copper Canyon, to the Stone family, and everyone who helped make this book happen.



Expertly and sensitively selected by her granddaughter Bianca, The Essential Ruth Stone bears witness to a vivid fifty-year career of one of America’s most influential and pioneering poets. Distilling twelve books into a single volume―from the wild formalism of her early work to the science-filled cosmic intellect of her final collection―The Essential Ruth Stone shows a visionary poet with a physical grasp on language. Dazzling, humorous and grief-stricken poems explore the continuity of loss and love, in the spectral appearances of the dead husband, to portraits of an American childhood, life during wartime, and complex metaphysical inquiries into consciousness itself. Ruth Stone’s feminism, mysticism and overall fierceness shine through her wit and passion. Moving gracefully between the loneliness of grief and loss to the fullness of life and love, Stone approaches all her subjects with a profound humanity, an understanding born from her own lived experiences.

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“[A] breathtaking distillation that draws from 10 collections and a nearly 60-year career, readers can see the literary evolution of the two-time Guggenheim Fellow and winner of the National Book Award in a new light… Throughout, Stone transforms sorrow into something layered and full of life. This stands as witness to the inner workings of her world and the extraordinary life she lived.”

Publishers Weekly, starred review



A Virtual Benefit Event for Copper Canyon Press  |  October 1, 2020 at 6:00pm PDT

Featuring Jericho Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert, Rio Cortez, Monica Sok, and Alison C. Rollins, plus editors Jan Heller Levi, Christoph Keller, Bianca Stone, and Michael Wiegers

Join Copper Canyon Press and an all-star lineup to celebrate the legacies of two iconic feminist poets, while raising crucial funds to support our spring season of phenomenal books. You’ll be treated to a first look at brand-new and forthcoming anthologies, The Essential Ruth Stone and The Essential June Jordan, and invited to help launch a Kickstarter project to lift up these extraordinary poets and their legacies.

Ruth Stone (1915–2011) and June Jordan (1936-2002), while distinct from each other in terms of aesthetics and identity, share a fierce sense of feminist poetics, a wonderful balance of candor and cleverness, and visionary understandings of power, violence, and solidarity. We are thrilled to honor these poets with you.

Guest readers will include: Pulitzer Prize-winner Jericho Brown, with a preview of his afterword for The Essential June Jordan; international bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert; and a host of other literary luminaries.

Copper Canyon Presents: My Name Is My Own: Celebrating June Jordan & Ruth Stone


Friday, September 4, 2020

Thoughts on A Little Called Pauline

I wanted to take a little extra time to talk about A Little Called Pauline, since its pub date was literally the week of lockdown. It would have been wonderful, and definitely challenging to read this book to kids, since it deals with a very abstract poem that abstractly connects to the images. 

This was, as all my collaborations (particularly with Anne Carson on Antigonick) a very difficult task of "illustration." My mind refuses to be literal with the text of poems when I am making images to accompany them. I enjoy the imaginative demands of poetry. I a way, I don't want to make it seem easier to approach the poem; I don't want to acquiesce to the most simple assumptions that images are merely there to replace communication. Narrative. At the same time, especially in a children's book, that is exactly what it IS supposed to do. Children start out with book that say APPLE and show a picture of an apple. They are learning the names of things. Words like BOOM over a picture of an explosion. Portaits of family, a house, etc. I tried in Pauline to bridge between these two differing approaches to picture-book illustration. The result is that I made a more narrative story in image, paired with a very abstract poem, that was filled with hint, innuendos, associations, and ideas--of which one could take in a virtually limitless visual direction.

I will say that what excites me in Poetry Comics is the spontaneity that occurs. That it is devoted to movement and imagination. That somehow this strange genre defies stagnation. When successful, it is the best of both world in poetry and visual art. 

And to bring that to children and adults, is truly the best feeling ever.

If you have not bought this book yet, I encourage you to. I am sad I couldn't do readings for it, and sell more. But give it a try. As one reviewer said: 

“This is a book for kids (and adults) unafraid to use their brains. This is a book with guts and glory packed in its pages. See if you’re brave enough to give it a shot.”—Betsy Bird


This image was fun because I got to use some collage. I have a bunch of old and very stinky magazines from my grandmother's house. The black and white image came from GOOD HOUSEKEEPING. And the image of the little girl in the flowers came from BETTER HOMES. Also another fun easter egg is that I did this drawing at the same time as working on my poem "Artichokes"

I used wallpaper that was from my grandmother's house! I've used this for a lot of art projects.

Drawing water was hard. I finally found some Japanese artists who inspired me to make it in this vein.

I have no idea why I chose crowns to be a major theme in this, except that I was excited about drawing crazy crowns....

The Essential Ruth Stone: Out Now!!!

I'm filled with all the feelings, my grandmother, my mentor--I am so honored to have had the chance to edit this book, to go deep into e...