The late poet Ruth Stone spoiled her granddaughter Bianca Stone with junk food and Barbie dolls and gave her a typewriter for her 10th birthday. The two wrote poems side by side. And they did readings together, with Ruth shouting “Louder!” from the audience as Bianca, at age 16, fumbled with the microphone.
The bond between grandmother and granddaughter is being celebrated with a new CD, “Look to the Future,” produced by Paris Press, a tiny Western Massachusetts publisher. Ruth, who died in November, was a former poet laureate of Vermont, where she lived for 50 years, and author of 13 poetry collections. At the age of 87, she won a National Book Award in 2002. The prize followed years when she struggled to piece together an income and raise three daughters after her husband committed suicide.
In the 1990s, when she couldn’t find a publisher for “Simplicity,” a collection of poems, she approached Jan Freeman, a former student of hers. Freeman, founder of the nonprofit Paris Press, which publishes literature by overlooked women writers, was thrilled to publish the book. She still is, writing in a recent e-mail, “I think ‘Simplicity’ is Ruth’s most important and most beautiful book . . . It includes the enormous range of subjects that Ruth wrote about — the environment, science, American culture, rural New England, political disaster, human suffering, class, the experience of women, and her own family.”
In 1999, Paris Press published a second book by Stone, “Ordinary Words.” To celebrate, Ruth and her granddaughter gave a series of readings in senior centers and middle schools. A reading at Paris Press’s office in Ashfield was recorded, and the CD “Look to the Future” was produced.
A new release of that recording features an essay by Bianca Stone, whose work is included in “Best American Poetry 2011” (Scribner). She writes, “There was something extraordinary in Grandma’s presence when she read her poems aloud. This other person emerged, a battle-axe with my grandmother’s reading glasses on, one moment cursing the abyss, and the next laughing into it. She taught me about intensity and humor. It was as if her poems carried her through all the tragedy and comedy in life, and in front of an audience she lifted her listeners up and carried them along with her.”
Globe Corner bookstore
A paradise for travelers and dreamers alike, the Globe Corner Bookstore in Harvard Square showcased guidebooks, maps, and destination literature. After closing the store last year, Globe Corner continued selling books and maps on its website. Now Brookline Booksmith has bought the rights to the site, www.globecorner.com, and is creating the Globe Corner Travel Annex, a miniature version of the defunct store, inside its Coolidge Corner shop. For starters, the Booksmith has hung a carved wood sign from the Globe Corner and added 2,000 maps.
• “Rebounders: How Winners Pivot From Setback to Success”by Rick Newman (Ballantine)
• “Culinary Intelligence: The Art of Eating Healthy (and Really Well)”by Peter Kaminsky (Knopf)
• “Along the Way: The Journey of a Father and Son” by Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez with Hope Edelman (Free Press)
Pick of the week
Jane Egge of Willow Books & Café in Acton recommends “The Book of Madness and Cures” by Regina O’Melveny (Little, Brown): “Through its pacing, language, and outlook, this novel set in 16th-century Europe feels more authentic than most historical fiction. The author is a poet and that lends a flow and richness to her writing.”Jan Gardner can be reached at JanLGardner@yahoo.com. Follow her on Twitter @JanLGardner.