By RUSSELL JONES
The Book and Leaf in Brandon held a poetry reading by a group of poets from the Ruth Stone Foundation on Saturday. Founded by her granddaughter Bianca Stone and Ben Pease, the foundation is attempting to carry on a legacy that was started many years ago.
The Foundation, started in 2013, looks to further Ruth Stone’s wish that her estate would be used to nurture poetry and creative arts. The group started in the Brandon Library, where Bianca Stone and Pease helped aspiring poets refine and direct their creativity.
The sessions became longer and more detailed so the couple moved the meetings to the living room in their current Brandon home.
“The Library told us we could stay as long as we wanted,” said Pease. “But the lights went off automatically at eight and it was just easier to hold them at our home so we could go as long as we needed.”
If all goes according to plan, the Foundation will host poets in the Ruth Stone house in Goshen by the summer. The home is currently undergoing renovations.
Ruth Stone, a Virginia native born in 1915, moved to Goshen in 1956. The little farmhouse, where she raised her family amidst the challenging conditions of the times, provided much of the inspiration for her craft, as did her husband’s death in 1959.
Ruth taught creative writing at several universities across the nation, including University of Illinois, University of Wisconsin, University of California, Davis and Brandeis University, and published 13 books of poetry while living in the Goshen home. She also won several awards, including two Guggenheim Fellowships, a National Book Award, and the Wallace Stevens Award.
Since her passing in 2011, her house in Goshen fell into disrepair, but is currently being remodeled thanks to donations through the Ruth Stone Foundation.
The foundation was started a little more than a year after Ruth’s death and Bianca Stone had always wanted to host a writers’ retreat there. Bianca said the house needed a lot of work before that could happen, and she and her husband left their jobs and home in New York City and set to work repairing her grandmother’s house.
“Thanks to private donations and volunteers, we’ve made huge leaps restoring her house,” she said. “But because the house was under construction and we wanted to provide a creative outlet for the community, we started the writers group at the library.”
The reading at Book and Leaf was a sort of culmination of all the work those students in the group have done. They came together to share their work with each other and members of the community. “One of the most magical things about these workshops is seeing the work get better and better,” Bianca said.