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Ruth Stone's Vast Library of the Female Mind

A film by Nora Jacobson

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Photo credit: Jon Gilbert Fox.

After tragedy strikes, acclaimed poet Ruth Stone retreated to the margins of the literary world, working tirelessly to provide for her children, and transforming her intense grief into poetry, using simple, startling language.

Using a conversational, intimate approach, award-winning Vermont filmmaker Nora Jacobson combines rare archival footage of Ruth at different times of her life, filmed in the 1970s by Hollywood film editor Sidney Wolinsky (The Sopranos, The Shape of Water), raw and original animation by Ruth’s granddaughter Bianca Stone, and heartfelt observations by family members and poets, including Pulitzer Prize winner Sharon Olds, Toi Derricotte, Major Jackson and Edward Hirsch.

Beloved by many, Ruth’s home in Goshen, Vermont became a mecca for her students, as well as poet friends and family members. There she inspired people to make art and write, not only through activities such as the “poetry game”, but by providing solace and nurture, surrounded by nature and camaraderie. After Ruth died, her grandchildren and Ben Pease began renovating the house and turning it into a writer’s retreat. Their goal is to create an enduring legacy that will keep Ruth’s name alive and nurture a new generation of poets. The film follows the renovation of Ruth’s home, culminating in a poetry workshop, the first of many.

Though not well known outside of the poetry world, Stone won accolades and awards, such as the National Book Award for Poetry, the Wallace Stevens Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, two Guggenheim Fellowships, the Delmore Schwartz Award, and she was a finalist for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, among many others. This film hopes to acquaint more people, of all ages and gender, with Ruth Stone’s poetry and the poignant tragedy at the heart of her oeuvre.

“Jacobson does a beautiful job of connecting different moments of Ruth’s recitations into one continuous flow, aging her forward and backwards, all within the same timeless poems....an utter joy to behold....” —Isabella Bonvini, New Jersey Stage

“An intimate and revealing portrait of an earthy, elegant woman... Jacobson captures beautiful moments with the nonagenarian Stone...” —Travis Weedon, The Montpelier Bridge

“Lovely... a terrific film...” —Ken Eisen, Shadow Distribution

“It is like discovering a lost treasure. I feel cheated at the thought that I never knew of her or her work before your film. It's also because you crafted a story about grief and love that breaks one's heart and reconstructs it into something bigger, rather than smaller. So inspirational. The layers go on and on.... It is everything a good documentary should be.” —Laura Schenck, Maine PBS

“A film twelve years in the making, the doc is a concise and deep dive into the writing and personal life of the 2007 Vermont Poet Laureate. From poets Sharon Olds, Major Jackson, and Chard deNiord to her massive family, the film weaves these interviews with gorgeously rendered visual storytelling from granddaughter and noted poet and artist, Bianca Stone, along with forty years of archival footage of the cavalcade of family and now-famous artists and writers who visited her Goshen home—a central character throughout the film... But the highlight has to be Stone herself. Her musings and memories. The recitation and free-versing. Her mind whirling, live-editing, rhapsodizing, creating genius right before us, and like any brilliant star, accessing and accepting the chaotic wonder of the world.” —Dayton Shafer, Film Critic, Vermont College of Fine Arts

Boston Film Festival
Vermont International Film Festival
Honorable Mention, New Jersey Film Festival
Best Biography, Second Literature in Cinema
Through Women's Eyes International Film Festival

77 minutes / Color
Closed Captioned
Release: 2022
Copyright: 2022

For colleges, universities, government agencies, hospitals and corporations

Subject areas:
Women's Studies, Literature, Cultural Anthropology, American Studies, Poetry

Watch the trailer:

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