Poetry

Miraculum

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.

Richard St. JohnPoet 

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 o​ur fingers move like candles

in the narrow church of flesh,

lighting what they can...​

Dear Good Naked Morning

Winner of the 2005 Autumn House Press Poetry Prize - selected by Alicia Ostriker

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​...

Edgewater

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?

Jane Hirshfield

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. ​

Bruce Weigl

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. 

​Singular Bodies

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...

Mark Doty

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 -

exuberant, recalcitrant,

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. 

Alison Luterman

Accordion Breathing & Dancing

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.

William Matthews

Risk

All right, the wind

holding its breath

Teeth stunning each other.

Nipple. Tongue

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.

Minnie Bruce Pratt
Jo Ellen Green Kaiser 

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.