Ruth Stone was born Ruth Swan Perkins on June 8, 1915, in Roanoke, Virginia. She grew up in Indianapolis, where she lived with her paternal grandparents. Stone attended the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where she met her future husband, Walter Stone, who was then a graduate student.
Stone, who did not achieve popularity as a poet until her elder years, was the author of thirteen books of poetry, including What Love Comes To: New and Selected Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 2008), a finalist for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry; In the Next Galaxy (Copper Canyon Press, 2002), which received the 2002 National Book Award; and Ordinary Words (Paris Press, 1999), which received the National Book Critics Circle Award.
Her poems startle us over and over with their shapeliness, their humor, their youthfulness, their wild aptness, their strangeness, their sudden familiarity, the authority of their insights, the moral gulps they prompt, their fierce exactness of language and memory.
Among Stone’s other awards are two Guggenheim Fellowships, The Bess Hokin Prize from Poetry magazine, the Shelley Memorial Award, and the Vermont Cerf Award for lifetime achievement in the arts.
Stone taught creative writing at numerous universities over her lifetime, including the State University of New York at Binghamton. Starting in 2007, she served a four-year term as Vermont’s state poet.
A Vermont resident since 1957, Stone died at her home in Ripton, Vermont, on November 19, 2011. She was ninety-six years old.