A Poem for Ruth Stone, Poet 1915-2011

A Poem for Ruth Stone, Poet 1915-2011

Earlier this summer I was involved in a project responding to works of the American poet Ruth Stone, 1915-2011.

ruth stoneRuth Stone? – I freely admitted to Elephants Footprint (publishers of this new anthology) that I’d not heard of any of Ruth ‘s thirteen poetry volumes, but this exciting prospect of reading a new (to me) poetic voice spurred me forward in the discovery a truly individual poet.

I would say her words mix science, philosophy and nature into poems that question what it is to be human or attempt to re-define the ‘human condition‘. There is a great and abiding simplicity to her expressions; delightful, playful, sincere, but somehow hungry and unsatisfied.  Always seeking another answer and in turn, looking deeper and unearthing more questions.

I think Ruth liked asking lots of questions. Simple questions, difficult questions, the relevance of questioning and then she considered how important the answers we get really are.

So, I was drawn to respond to her beautiful understated poem ‘You May Ask’, with just this idea.  Her poem is very simple and I’ve kept to the same form. Ruth’s poem ends by posing three small, but direct questions. Each one grips us with the capacity for a deeper, more profound reflection. I like to think beyond corporeal life Ruth now has some interesting answers … but what do I know?

You May Answer

Summer has come to town.pen and paper

The wind is playing up

making the poets’ hand seize

as it errs along a paper draft.

The poem is for Ruth

although, she is dead

her poet-voice restlessly

mouths the answers.

But the hand is still and

the poet, too rigid to write.

                                          By Emma van Woerkom ©2015

***The Ruth Stone Project anthology is due be published by Elephants Footprint late 2015.

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