Ruth Stone

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Ruth Stone
Ruth Stone 2009.jpg
Stone in 2009
Born(1915-06-08)June 8, 1915
DiedNovember 19, 2011(2011-11-19) (aged 96)
  • Poet
  • teacher
  • author
Known forWhat Love Comes To
Awards2009 Pulitzer Prize finalist, 2007 Vermont State Poet, 2002 National Book Award, Whiting Award and two Guggenheim Fellowships[1][2]

Ruth Stone (June 8, 1915 – November 19, 2011) was an award-winning American poet.[3]

Life and poetry[edit]

Stone was born in Roanoke, Virginia and lived there until age 6, when her family moved back to her parents' hometown of Indianapolis, Indiana.[4][5] She went to college at the University of Illinois. Her first marriage was to John Clapp in 1935,[4] and they had one daughter.[5] Her second marriage was to professor and poet Walter Stone, in 1944,[4] with whom she had two daughters.[5] Walter Stone, who served in World War II, received a PhD from Harvard, and taught at University of Illinois, and then at Vassar College.[6] Walter Stone committed suicide in 1959; this tragedy shaped the path of Ruth Stone's life, as she sought ways to support herself and her daughters by teaching poetry at universities across the United States.

Her work is distinguished by its tendency to draw imagery and language from the natural sciences.

Stone died at her home in Goshen, Vermont, on November 19, 2011.[7]


Stone's verse was published widely in periodicals, and she was the author of thirteen books of poetry.[8]

In 1990 Stone became a professor of English and Creative Writing at Binghamton University, and retired from this position at the age of 85.[5]

Early on, Stone's work was recognized by editors. While her husband was teaching at Vassar College, Stone received the Kenyon Review Fellowship in Poetry.

House in Goshen, Vermont[edit]

When Stone received the Kenyon Review Fellowship in Poetry, she and Walter used the funds to buy a house in Goshen, Vermont, expecting that it would be a place to go in the summers, and to eventually retire.[6] The house became a refuge for Stone after Walter's death, and over the years, became an intellectual center for her students and other poets.[6]


Poetry Magazine Bess Hoken Prize, 1953[4]

Kenyon Review Fellowship in Poetry, 1956[9]

Radcliffe Institute Fellowship, 1963-1965[4]

Guggenheim Fellowship, Poetry, 1971[10]

Guggenheim Fellowship, Poetry, 1975[10]

Delmore Schwartz Award, 1983[4]

Whiting Award, 1986[4]

Paterson Poetry Prize, 1988

Cerf Lifetime Achievement Award, State of Vermont

Shelley Memorial Award.Eric Mathieu King Award, Academy of American Poets

National Book Award for In the Next Galaxy, 2002

Wallace Stevens Award, Academy of American Poets, 2002

Poet Laureate of Vermont, 2007

Finalist, Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for What Love Comes To: New and Selected Poems, 2009


Stone's long-time residence in Goshen, Vermont was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2016. Her heirs (both literary and family) — including her granddaughter, poet and visual artist Bianca Stone[11] — have established a foundation to convert the property into a writer's retreat.[12]

Paintbrush: A Journal of Poetry and Translation 27 (2000/2001) was devoted entirely to Stone's work.

The Ruth Stone Poetry Prize awarded by The Vermont College of Fine Arts and their literary journal Hunger Mountain is in its sixth year.[13]

Stone's daughters Phoebe Stone and Abigail Stone, and her granddaughter Bianca Stone, are all published writers.

Cultural References[edit]

The voice of Ruth Stone reading her poem "Be Serious" is featured in the film, USA The Movie.[14]


  • What Love Comes To: New and Selected Poems, Bloodaxe Books, UK edition, 2009, ISBN 978-1-85224-841-3
  • What Love Comes To: New and Selected Poems. Copper Canyon Press. 2008. ISBN 978-1-55659-327-7. —finalist for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize[15]
  • In the Dark. Copper Canyon Press. 2004. ISBN 978-1-55659-210-2.; Copper Canyon Press, 2007, ISBN 978-1-55659-250-8
  • In the Next Galaxy. Copper Canyon Press. 2002. ISBN 978-1-55659-207-2. winner of the National Book Award[16]
  • Ordinary Words, Paris Press, 2000, ISBN 978-0-9638183-8-6 winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award
  • Simplicity, Paris Press, 1996, ISBN 978-0-9638183-1-7
  • Who is the Widow's Muse?, Yellow Moon Press, 1991, ISBN 978-0-938756-32-3
  • The Solution Alembic Press, Ltd., 1989, ISBN 978-0-9621666-3-1
  • Second Hand Coat: Poems New and Selected 1987; Yellow Moon Press, 1991, ISBN 978-0-938756-33-0
  • American Milk, From Here Press, 1986, ISBN 978-0-89120-027-7
  • Cheap: New Poems and Ballads, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1975, ISBN 978-0-15-117034-0
  • Unknown Messages Nemesis Press, 1973
  • Topography and Other Poems Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1971, ISBN 978-0-15-190495-2
  • In an Iridescent Time, Harcourt, Brace, 1959


Ruth Stone's papers reside at the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia


  1. ^ Times-Argus article Archived 2015-04-02 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ The Oxford Companion to Women's Writing in the United States. Ed. Cathy N. Davidson and Linda Wagner-Martin. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. Oxford University Press.
  3. ^ Copper Canyon Press Bio
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Beal, Jane (2016). "Ruth Stone". American Writers Supplement. Gale. pp. 249–65.
  5. ^ a b c d Langer, Emily (27 November 2011). "Ruth Stone, poet who won acclaim later in her life, dies at 96". The Washington Post. Retrieved 9 April 2022.
  6. ^ a b c "The House With Feet: The Dire Importance of Ruth Stone's Bequest • VIDA: Women in Literary Arts". VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. 2015-03-18. Retrieved 2022-04-09.
  7. ^ William Grimes (November 24, 2011). "Ruth Stone, a Poet Celebrated Late in Life, Dies at 96". The New York Times.
  8. ^ "Ruth Stone". The Daily Telegraph. London. January 1, 2012.
  9. ^ "Past Fellows". The Kenyon Review. Retrieved 2022-04-09.
  10. ^ a b "Ruth Stone". John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Retrieved 2022-04-09.
  11. ^ "Riverviews' 'Rebus' exhibit showcases poetry comics". BURG, March 5, 2014 Brent Wells.
  12. ^ "Late Poet Laureate Ruth Stone's Goshen home is coming back to life". Addison Independent. November 28, 2016. Retrieved 2016-12-13.
  13. ^ "Hunger Mountain - VCFA Journal of the Arts". Archived from the original on 2018-07-24. Retrieved 2018-09-10.
  14. ^ "Ruth Stone". IMDb.
  15. ^ "Poetry". Past winners & finalists by category. The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 2012-04-08.
  16. ^ "National Book Awards – 2002". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-04-08.
    (With acceptance speech by Stone, announcement by Poetry Panel Chair Dave Smith, and essay by Katie Peterson from the Awards 60-year anniversary blog.)

External links[edit]