Harvey Gross (essay date spring 1972)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: Gross, Harvey. “On the Poetry of Ruth Stone: Selections and Commentary.” The Iowa Review 3, no. 2 (spring 1972): 94-104.

[In the following essay, the author “pleads the case” for Stone's poetry, which does not follow popular trends but exhibits “a concern for craft which flows from intelligent use of traditional techniques and imaginative departures from their restrictions.”]

In those remote times called the Fifties (the rhetoric of our on-going Cultural Revolution has speeded up the historical process so that events more than five years in the past seem to have occurred in the Pleistocene Era) literary critics speculated on The Death of the Novel....

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Roger Gilbert (review date fall 1996)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: Gilbert, Roger. “Ruth Stone's Intricate Simplicities.” The Iowa Review 26, no. 3 (fall 1996): 179-93.

[In the following review, the author addresses the reasons for Stone's relative obscurity—her lack of connection to academia, her lateness in starting her poetic career, her refusal to conform to expectations—and praises Stone for her “virtuoso range of subject, tone and technique.”]

Ruth Stone's Simplicity is the kind of book one might expect from a great poet just hitting her stride, eagerly testing the full range of her powers for the first time. Its 116 pages—unusually generous for a book of poems these days—embrace a dazzling array...

(The entire section is 4788 words.)

Leslie Fiedler (essay date 1996)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: Fiedler, Leslie. “On Ruth Stone.” In The House Is Made of Poetry: The Art of Ruth Stone, edited by Wendy Barker and Sandra M. Gilbert, pp. 3-4. Carbondale, Ill.: Southern Illinois University Press, 1996.

[In the following essay, the author of the landmark study, Love and Death in the American Novel, celebrates Stone's “wonder of the ordinary.”]

I have been reading and passionately responding to Ruth Stone's poetry for more than half a century, ever since I rescued and deciphered a balled-up, scribbled page that she had tossed under the bed in her tiny pre-fab house just off Harvard Yard. Though she occasionally read one aloud to her family and...

(The entire section is 555 words.)

Wendy Barker (essay date 1996)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: Barker, Wendy. “Mapping Ruth Stone's Life and Art.” In The House Is Made of Poetry: The Art of Ruth Stone, edited by Wendy Barker and Sandra M. Gilbert, pp. 33-45. Carbondale, Ill.: Southern Illinois University Press, 1996.

[In the following essay, the author presents a brief biography of Stone and provides a biographically informed reading of Stone's early works In an Iridescent Time and Topography.]

Tillie Olsen, in the Iowa Review collection Extended Outlooks, calls Ruth Stone “one of the major poets” of the latter twentieth century, describing her poetic voice as “clear, pure, fierce” (Gilbert et al. 327). She is not alone...

(The entire section is 4276 words.)

Diane Wakowski (essay date 1996)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: Wakowski, Diane. “The Comedic Art of Ruth Stone.” In The House Is Made of Poetry: The Art of Ruth Stone, edited by Wendy Barker and Sandra M. Gilbert, pp. 101-05. Carbondale, Ill.: Southern Illinois University Press, 1996.

[In the following essay, the American poet Diane Wakowski compares the comedy of Stone's poetry to that of Dante, arguing that Stone is, above all else, a comedic poet who uses wit and irony in the service of comedy rather than satire.]

Dante called his great poem La Commedia (only later did he add the word “divine”) because “in the conclusion it is prosperous, pleasant, and desirable” and in its style “lax and...

(The entire section is 1671 words.)

Kevin Clark (essay date 1996)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: Clark, Kevin. “‘The Wife's Went Bazook’: Comedic Feminism in the Poetry of Ruth Stone.” In The House Is Made of Poetry: The Art of Ruth Stone, edited by Wendy Barker and Sandra M. Gilbert, pp. 112-26. Carbondale, Ill.: Southern Illinois University Press, 1996.

[In the following essay, Clark argues that the poems in Stone's Second-Hand Coat represent a sort of “comedic feminism,” in which Stone laces social commentary with humor.]

In the tradition of American naturalism, the more recent poems of Ruth Stone's Second-Hand Coat: Poems New and Selected (1987) are always sociologically acute and often thin on hope. Stone's darkly feminist...

(The entire section is 5105 words.)

Sandra Gilbert (essay date October 1999)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: Gilbert, Sandra. “Extraordinary Words.” The Women's Review of Books 17, no. 1 (October 1999): 6-7.

[In the following essay, the author favorably reviews Stone's Ordinary Words, paying special attention to Stone's fascination with ornithology, botany and metaphysics. The author finds Stone's meditations upon the ordinary “refreshing.”]

I should begin by confessing at once that I've admired the extraordinary words of Ruth Stone's poetry for more than a quarter of a century now, and for almost as many years have wondered why her distinguished and distinctive art isn't more widely known. I'm of course delighted that Paris Press has chosen to issue...

(The entire section is 2608 words.)

Mary Ann Wehler (essay date 2000)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: Wehler, Mary Ann. “Ruth Stone: Voice from Society's Margins.” In Modern American Poetry, an Online Journal and Multimedia Companion to Anthology of Modern American Poetry, edited by Cary Nelson. http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/poets/s_z/stone/wehler.htm. Urbana-Champaign, Ill.: Department of English, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2000.

[In the following essay, published online, Wehler emphasizes the feminism of Stone's poetry but misses the humor and nuance.]

Ruth Stone was forty-four when she published her first book, In an Iridescent Time, in 1959. In fact,...

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Christine Gelineau (essay date 2000/2001)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: Gelineau, Christine. “The Poetry of Ruth Stone: An Exercise against Loss.” Paintbrush: A Journal of Poetry and Translation 27 (2000/2001): 55-61.

[In the following essay, Gelineau reads poems from Second-Hand Coat, Ordinary Words, and Simplicity to consider the “multiple and various,” “sly and direct,” “heart breaking and funny,” “unrestrained,” “unconventional” and “fresh” ways Stone's poetry addresses issues of loss.]

Her triumph is her refusal to buckle. Born into the wartime years of the “War to End All Wars,” Ruth Stone has lived through the Depression, the Second World War, and the death by suicide of her...

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April Lindner (essay date 2000/2001)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: Lindner, April. “A Tender Brutality: Ruth Stone's Poems of the Body.” Paintbrush: A Journal of Poetry and Translation 27 (2000/2001): 109-16.

[In the following essay, the author contends that the body in Stone's poetry is often a site of “wild, mordant humor.” In poems such as “Nuns at Lunch on the Bus,” “Split, Conjugate, Whatever,” and “Message from Your Toes,” Stone's poetic gaze refuses to rest on the surface of the body but insists on traveling into the physical processes that make us human.]

Ruth Stone's singular poetic voice manages to reconcile many contradictions: warm and expansive as often as it is flinty, funny but deeply...

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Mary Beth O'Connor (essay date 2000/2001)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: O'Connor, Mary Beth. “Ordinary Words.” Paintbrush: A Journal of Poetry and Translation 27 (2000/2001): 71-8.

[In the following essay, O'Connor argues that Stone is a “sneakily political poet” who uses sly humor to comment upon imbalances of power, trivial materialism, violence, and lack of compassion.]

Skewed, funny, rueful, lyrical, shocking, wise—a new collection of poems by Ruth Stone is an occasion of import. There is so much that this poet sees and understands that we need to know. She shows us both what is so mundane as to be obscured by familiarity, and so unfamiliar as to require the intuitive leap of an original and brilliant poetic mind. She...

(The entire section is 3052 words.)