About this poet

In 1949, Barbara Ras was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts. She was educated at Simmons College and at the University of Oregon where she received an MFA in Creative Writing.

Her first collection of poems, Bite Every Sorrow (LSU Press, 1998), was chosen by C. K. Williams to receive the 1997 Walt Whitman Award. In his citation, Williams said: “Barbara Ras’s poems are informed by a metaphysically erudite and whimsical intelligence...her verbal expertise and lucidity are as bright and surprising as her knowledge of the world is profound. This is a splendid book, morally serious, poetically authentic, spiritually discerning.”

Bite Every Sorrow was subsequently awarded the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. In 1999, Ras was named Georgia Poet of the Year.

Her other books of poetry include One Hidden Stuff (2006) and The Last Skin (2010). She is also the editor of a collection of short fiction in translation, Costa Rica: A Traveler’s Literary Companion (Whereabouts Press, 1994).

Ras has received fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. She has taught at writing programs across the country and has been on the faculty of the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. Ras currently lives in San Antonio, where she directs Trinity University Press.

A Book Said Dream and I Do

Barbara Ras
There were feathers and the light that passed through feathers.

There were birds that made the feathers and the sun that made the light.

The feathers of the birds made the air soft, softer

than the quiet in a cocoon waiting for wings,

stiller than the stare of a hooded falcon.

But no falcons in this green made by the passage of parents.

No, not parents, parrots flying through slow sleep

casting green rays to light the long dream.

If skin, dew would have drenched it, but dust

hung in space like the stoppage of

time itself, which, after dancing with parrots,

had said, Thank you. I'll rest now.

It's not too late to say the parrot light was thick

enough to part with a hand, and the feathers softening

the path, fallen after so much touching of cheeks,

were red, hibiscus red split by veins of flight

now at the end of flying.

Despite the halt of time, the feathers trusted red

and believed indolence would fill the long dream,

until the book shut and time began again to hurt.

From The Last Skin by Barbara Ras. Copyright © 2010 by Barbara Ras. Used by permission of Penguin.

From The Last Skin by Barbara Ras. Copyright © 2010 by Barbara Ras. Used by permission of Penguin.

Barbara Ras

Barbara Ras

Barbara Ras was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, in 1949, and educated

by this poet

poem

But you can have the fig tree and its fat leaves like clown hands
gloved with green. You can have the touch of a single eleven-year-old finger
on your cheek, waking you at one a.m. to say the hamster is back.
You can have the purr of the cat and the soulful look
of the black dog, the look that