Miraculum is a wonderful book -- assured, consistent and fresh, right from the first poem. Beyond the poetic craft, I found the book to be personally moving and vision-expanding.
from Why I Love Your Body
Because I've swayed for hours
in the red-gold inch
between my lips and your freckled back.
Because the boxes that held the vials
you inject to stay alive
lie like husks of body in my trash can now.
Because skin is only part of what holds us.
Because we are also specks of star.
Because our fingers move like candles
in the narrow church of flesh,
lighting what they can...
Winner of the 2005 Autumn House Press Poetry Prize - selected by Alicia Ostriker
Beginning with the naked bravery of the title, poem after poem in Dear Good Naked Morning caused my eyes to open wide, my breath to catch, made me shout aloud with delight at some fresh excess of insight, some dazzling flicker of truth, some spurt of living metaphor, some wild phrase of music...
from Music for Guitar and Stone
In music I can love the small failures,
the ones which show how difficult it is:
the young guitarist's fingers slipping,
for an instant, from their climb of chords.
He sits along on the stage, bright light,
one leg wedged up on a step, his raised knee
round and tender, and the notes like birds
from a vanishing flock, each one more exquisite and lonely,
the fingers part of the hand, yet separate from the hand,
each living muscle married to the whole.
In life, the failures feel like they'll kill me,
or you will, or we'll kill each other;
it's so hard to feel the music
moving through us, the larger patterns...
A 2002 National Poetry Series winner - Selected by Jane Hirshfield
In Edgewater, her powerfully moving and redemptive third collection, Ruth L. Schwartz writes with consummate passion, precision and honesty of the raw hungers that give rise to the world... In poems both lyrical and grit-laced, she grapples with her two-fold, central question: How can we love fully, open-eyed and open-hearted amid all the flaws and beauty, each other and the world? How could we not?
from The Swan at Edgewater Park
Isn't one of your prissy richpeoples' swans
Wouldn't be at home on some pristine pond
Chooses the whole stinking shoreline, candy wrappers, condoms
in its tidal fringe,
Prefers to curve its muscular, slightly grubby neck
into the body of a Great Lake,
swilling whatever it is swans swill,
Chardonnay of algae, with bouquet of crud,
while Clevelanders walk by saying, Look at that big duck!
Beauty isn't the point here; of course the swan is beautiful,
but not like Lorie at 16, when everything was possible - No
more like Lorie at 27
smoking away her days off in her dirty kitchen,
Her kid with asthma watching TV,
the boyfriend who doesn't know yet she's gonna
leave him, washing his car out back - and
he's a runty little guy, and drinks too much, but
he loves her, he really does, he loves them both -
that's the kind of swan this is.
Ruth L. Schwartz has reached a level of poetic maturity that we're used to seeing only in the best of our American poetry... She assumes a public voice in these poems, which speak to us rather than at us in the way they offer moral solutions to the problems of our modern world. She does this... by reaching after and trying to understand the natural world and her place therein, and by modulating her poems with a subtle, ghostly music which has the capacity to lull us into understanding more about ourselves and about the wonderful ambiguities of living life most fully.
Winner of the 2000 Anhinga Prize for Poetry - Selected by Allison Joseph
Ruth L. Schwartz will settle for nothing less than the essential. Her passionate poems are alive to the vulnerability of the body, the daily possibility of joy, and the deep struggle not only to make sense of, but to affirm the world...
Now the crows are courting us,
cawing, spreading brilliant wings
feather by dark gleaming feather, as a lover would
if given wings; we picnic in the wild air,
before and after rain, suspended between storms,
the sparrows gathered at our feet,
the syrup taste of other countries
on the melon's flesh.
Listening with such attention
to the music of each breath -
the way life pulses shining
and demanding in our hands.
This numinous, deep-hearted collection explores the redemptive quality of love, and its ability to hold even the hardest facts of physical life, disability and death in its enormous arms. These are generous poems. They deliver that most amazing of gifts: a faith that can be trusted, because it is not blind.
Winner of the 1994 Associated Writing Programs Competition - Selected by William Matthews
I think Accordion Breathing & Dancing may well find many grateful readers. It is... a book partly because of AIDS. But its great distinction lies in its fierce, erotic loyalty to the possibility of song, in any light, in any shadow.
All right, the wind
holding its breath
Teeth stunning each other.
Even if it means the green
plums will be blown from branches
Ruth L. Schwartz gives us life as a band of light so narrow and so wide that the poet must always leave, yet always must return. Her effort is to measure in words the weight of earthly beauty, the fact of its random and daily radiance, and the otherworldly longings that cannot be contained by the body.
What I like so much about Schwartz's work is the way she asks us to think. This is poetry that refuses to confess, that asks instead of tells... It is poetry about death, grief and loss that reminds us why we want to live, poetry that asks us to choose life.