Cover image for In the next galaxy
In the next galaxy
Stone, Ruth.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Port Townsend, Wash. : Copper Canyon Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
x, 99 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3537.T6817 I54 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
PS3537.T6817 I54 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

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Ruth Stone has rightly been called America's Akhmatova, and she is considered "Mother Poet" to many contemporary writers. In this, her eighth volume, she writes with crackling intelligence, interrogating history from the vantage point of an aging and impoverished woman. Wise, sardonic, crafty, and misleadingly simple, Stone loves heavy themes but loathes heavy poems.


In the longer view it doesn't matter.
However, it's that having lived, it matters.
So that every death breaks you apart.
You find yourself weeping at the door
of your own kitchen, overwhelmed
by loss. And you find yourself weeping
as you pass the homeless person
head in hands resigned on a cement
step, the wire basket on wheels right there.
Like stopped film, or a line of Vallejo,
or a sketch of the mechanics of a wing
by Leonardo. All pauses in space,
a violent compression of meaning
in an instant within the meaningless.
Even staring into the dim shapes
at the farthest edge; accepting that blur.

"Ruth Stone's work is alternately witty, bawdy, touching, and profound. But never pompous. Her honesty and originality give her writing a sense of youth and newness because she looks at the world so clearly, without all the detritus of social convention the rest of us pick up along the way... Her writing proves her to be simply inspired."-- USA Today

Ruth Stone was born in Virginia in 1915. She is author of eight books of poems and recipient of the National Book Critics Circle Award. In 1959, after her husband committed suicide, she was forced to raise three daughters alone. For twenty years she traveled the US, teaching creative writing at many universities, finally settling at SUNY Binghamton. She lives in Vermont.

Author Notes

Ruth Stone was born in Roanoke, Virginia in 1915. By the age of 19, she was a married woman and studying at the University of Illinois. While there, she met Walter Stone, who became her second husband after she divorced her first husband. While on sabbatical in England in 1959, Walter Stone hung himself at the age of 42. Her first collection, In an Iridescent Time, was published in 1959. Her other works include Topography and Other Poems, American Milk, The Solution, Simplicity, and What Love Comes To. She won the National Book Award in 2002 for In the Next Galaxy. She taught English and creative writing at the State University of New York in Binghamton. She died of natural causes on November 19, 2011 at the age of 96.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

The much-lauded octogenarian Stone keeps up her appealing, sadder-but-wiser lyricism as she surveys subjects from McCormick reapers to radio astronomy, from fractals to "folded wings" and the fatigue of age, in this eighth collection, her first since the National Book Critics Circle Award winner Ordinary Words (1999). Stone veers easily between compressed stories of her Virginia upbringing and her own life, on the one hand, and scenic Americana on the other, finding material in "New York mountain weather," roaming cats, "the railroad's edge of metal trash." A third sort of Stone poem begins and ends in abstraction, finding spare lines for dejection or reflection, or asking, simply, "How can I live like this?" Stone's lifetime of craft permits her to pare down both description and meditation, and, at her best, make startling use of short, slow lines and of occasional rhyme; standout lyric work like "Train Ride" or "At Eighty-Three She Lives Alone" recalls at once Stanley Kunitz and Kay Ryan, and should find a place in many anthologies. Stone's lesser poems can digress into mere jottings; she tends to top off her terse scenes and speculations with forceful (sometimes forced) closing statements, what she calls "severe abstract designs." Even those poems, however, reflect an observant and contemplative life, focused on simplicities of feeling, yet possessed of unfolding subtleties. (June) Forecast: Stone's advanced age, her accessibility and her high standing among other writers may all provoke comparisons to Marie Ponsot, though her small output brings her closer to Virginia Hamilton Adair. Either way, the NBA should generate interest in this follow-up, and solid sales that might be boosted by displaying this book among nonfiction titles on aging. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1999 for Ordinary Words, Stone is now in her eighties, having published her first book of poetry when she was 44. Stone writes conversationally, with lyricism, honesty, wit, and plenty of focus on the passage of time. The suicide of her much-loved husband 40 years ago is a frequent theme, as are observations about aging (which she has achieved with great wisdom), the lives of her young students and neighbors, and ecological and political concerns. Stone notices and brings to her poems everyday items like marbles ("Held up to light,/ a small hole/ into another dimension"), an unplugged electric fan ("staring at the floor/ with the nonexpression of the working class/ temporarily laid off"), and cabbages ("blooms like Rubens nudes"). Her uses of subtle and occasional rhyme, off-rhyme, and inner rhyme are delicate and always appropriate. Highly recommended.-Judy Clarence, California State Univ. Lib., Hayward (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

The Professor Criesp. 3
Spring Beautiesp. 4
Always Your Shadowp. 5
Looking at Your Handp. 6
Seedp. 7
In the Next Galaxyp. 8
Metaphors of the Treep. 9
Risingp. 10
Returning to the City of Your Childhoodp. 11
Leaving My Roommates in New Yorkp. 12
The Gamblerp. 13
Incarnationp. 14
This Strangeness in My Lifep. 15
Genesisp. 16
White on Whitep. 17
Shapesp. 18
Entering the Student's Poemp. 19
Changesp. 20
March 15, 1998p. 22
Visions from My Office Windowp. 23
The Illusionp. 24
Again--Nowp. 25
The Electric Fan and The Dead Man (or the widow as a useful object toward the end of the century)p. 26
As It Isp. 28
Useless Wordsp. 29
The Eye within the Eyep. 30
Always on the Trainp. 31
Bits of Informationp. 32
A Woodchuck Lessonp. 33
Marblesp. 35
Parts of Speechp. 37
Before the Blightp. 38
Poemsp. 39
What Meets the Eyep. 40
Junction in the Midwestp. 41
Breathingp. 43
On the Slow Train Passing Throughp. 44
Eden, Then and Nowp. 45
Wantingp. 47
Don't Miss Itp. 48
At the Readyp. 49
That Other Warp. 50
Tip of the Icebergp. 51
Napping on the Greyhoundp. 52
Reading the Russiansp. 53
What We Havep. 55
A Pairp. 57
Spring Snowp. 58
What We Don't Knowp. 59
Linear Illusionsp. 60
When I Was Thirty-five You Took My Photographp. 61
Lovep. 62
To Give This a Name, Astonishingp. 63
Realityp. 64
At Eighty-three She Lives Alonep. 65
A Good Questionp. 66
Getting to Know Youp. 67
From Boston to Binghamtonp. 68
Airp. 69
Sorrow and No Sorrowp. 70
Points of Visionp. 71
Train Ridep. 72
Assumptionsp. 73
The Poemp. 74
The Interesting Way of Lifep. 75
The Providerp. 76
Survivingp. 77
Lightp. 78
Droughtp. 79
Sorrowp. 80
Albany Bus Stationp. 81
Cousin Francis Speaks Outp. 82
Messagesp. 83
Grade Schoolp. 84
Linesp. 86
On the Mountainp. 87
Tonguesp. 88
Half Sight in Middleburyp. 89
Again I Find Youp. 91
The Cabbagep. 92
Three amp. 93
To Try Againp. 94
Not Expecting an Answerp. 95
Mantrap. 96
About the Authorp. 99