Ruth Stone was a promising young poet, living an idyllic life with her beloved husband, a poet and professor. When he died unexpectedly by suicide, Ruth was flung out into the world, destitute with three daughters to support.
Though not well known outside of the poetry world, Ruth won accolades and awards, such 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.
Beloved by many, Ruth’s house in Goshen, Vermont became a mecca for students, poets, 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 granddaughter Bianca Stone and husband Ben Pease, began renovating Ruth’s 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.
For Home Use (Individuals):
Blu-ray: $25 (including shipping and handling)
DVD: $25 (including shipping and handling)
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Public Libraries: $130 (including shipping and handling)
Includes Public Performance Rights.
Ruth Stone's Vast Library of the Female Mind
2022, 76 minutes
Selected Screenings and Festivals
Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival
Santa Fe Independent Film Festival
Boston Film Festival
Vermont International Film Festival
New Jersey International Film Festival
Through Women’s Eyes International Film Festival
Best Biography in Literature Film Festival
The Poetry Center, University of Arizona
Upstate Films, Rhinebeck, NY
Loft Cinema, Tucson, AZ
The Savoy Theater, Montpelier, VT
Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival
Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance
New England Poetry Group
The Latchis Theatre
Railroad Square Cinema
Denver Poetry Club
There are many costs associated with this phase which include travel, space rental, posters and ads. To make a tax-deductible contribution to help with distribution costs, click here.
Thank you! And let us know if you would like to set up a screening and Q&A with Nora Jacobson and poets featured in the film.
Style of the Film: Using an intimate approach, the film, 12 years in the making, combines verité footage of Ruth at different times of her life, reciting poetry and talking about how she writes, intertwined with lively and heartfelt observations of people who knew her. These include award-winning poets Sharon Olds, Toi Derricotte, Major Jackson, Chard DeNiord, and Edward Hirsch, as well as those who knew her best—her daughters and grandchildren.
The film is enhanced with animation by granddaughter Bianca Stone, an accomplished poet and artist, and rare archival 16mm footage by Sidney Wolinsky of Ruth entertaining students and reciting poetry. Ruth’s home in Goshen, Vermont is also a star of the film. We see its transformation from a ramshackle and decrepit farmhouse to an inviting and vibrant poetry center.
Pulitzer Prize winner Sharon Olds: “Ruth Stone’s poems are mysterious, hilarious, powerful...They are understandable, but not simple...She has a tragic deadpan humor: love and destruction are right next to each other.”
Pulitzer Prize winner Galway Kinnell: “Her poems startle us with their shapeliness, their humor, their youthfulness, their wild aptness, their strangeness, their sudden familiarity, the moral gulps they prompt, their fierce exactness of language and memory.”
What People are Saying
Reviews and Press
“A remarkable portrait of a remarkable life... How do grief and language shape us? How do the places and people in our lives influence who are and might become? Using both a poet’s and filmmaker’s tools, Jacobson expertly weaves each of these threads in Ruth Stone’s story, creating a documentary that beautifully manages to remember, to elegize, and to ultimately sing.”
–Tyler Meier, The Poetry Center, University of Arizona
Nora Jacobson's film Ruth Stone's Vast Library of the Female Mind chronicles Stone's heroic life story as a poet, mother, and teacher in a film that leaves its viewers inspired, enlightened, entertained, and uplifted. A visually beautiful film as well, Ruth Stone's Vast Library of the Female Mind captures the rural grist of Stone's heroic career, leaving no question as to why she has become both a Vermont and national treasure.
–Gibson Fay-Leblanc, MWPA Executive Director
“Ruth Stone’s Vast Library of the Female Mind is a documentary for those who value the journey of life... (it) is an inspiring excavation of the subject’s subconscious...”
–Q.V. Hough, Vague Visages
“Jacobson not only tells us who Ruth Stone was, but also why we should pay attention to her and her poetry....”
–Marilyn Ferdinand, Alliance of Women Film Journalists
“ 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
“I keep on thinking about the way this film both collapses and also elongates time: this is quite electrifying for me, as a writer. And your film has captured this sensation, with Ruth as a kind of fulcrum, which is what the voice in her poems also carries...
-Jim Schley, Poet, Editor
“What a wonderful film, both profound, and at the same time a warmhearted celebration of Ruth Stone and her extended family! We felt directly in the presence of Ruth Stone; her spontaneity and unpretentiousness both as a poet and as a person, which you bring out with a perfect balance of appreciation and respect....”
–Hume Vance, Author, Naturalist, Electrical Engineer
“Kudos on your exquisite documentary with a tone so in harmony with its subject....”
–Sandy Bragg, Film Programmer
“What a wonderful woman, and what a beautiful tribute. Love the way you wove her story. Love the family. It was particularly lovely to see both Verandah Porche and Major Jackson....”
–Deb Ellis, Filmmaker, Filmmaking Professor at University of Vermont
“It is so beautiful a tribute! Phew! I will have to watch it again and again, because some tearsalt streaks my bifocals. JUST WONDERFUL!...”
-John Landry, Poet Laureate of New Bedford, MA
“I am amazed by the documentary — Ruth Stone is a fascinating subject, and you have captured her life with reverence and nuance through the poignant interviews, inclusion of older footage, and references to her work, to name a few. I also love the drawings/collages...”
-Grace Boyd, Dartmouth College student
“I am so grateful to Nora Jacobson for introducing me to Ruth Stone and her poetry. The film not only inspired me to read Stone's collected works but also to bring the film and poems into my classroom... A first read quickly inspires a second look, opening the door to another, more complex meaning, and revealing Stone's brilliance and deep understanding of the complexity of the human condition
–Marie D’Amato, 9th Grade English teacher, Hanover High School
Review by a 9th grader: “The documentary of Ruth Stone is one of the most elegant, stunning films I have ever had the pleasure to see. When the film opened up with Ruth Stone and her three grandchildren reciting a poem together, I was taken aback by the beauty of it. Seeing the two generations together, reciting a beautiful poem together was very impactful. This theme of family showed up repeatedly throughout the film, being one of the most important things to Ruth.
The most impactful part of the film for me was the section about her husband, Walter. I think that all of her poems about him gave me chills because her emotions shone through the words she used. Having what seemed like a strong relationship with a man who she loved, then having him suddenly commit suicide must have been one of the most heart breaking things to happen. She said later about how she felt when it happened “The bird inside has died” meaning the feeling and life she felt before had died. Just recently, a friend of mine committed suicide and it was one of the saddest, yet weirdest things that I have felt. It felt like a dark cloud had come over my head when I found out. This most likely can’t even compare to how Ruth felt. However she was very open about his death. Someone close to her said “you're supposed to go where it's most painful” which is exactly what she did. Death is something that everyone faces...
After watching this movie I feel very inspired. Hearing about her life, the hardships she went through and how she chose to put them into poems is very inspirational. She really made me realize how to enjoy the little things and how to cherish the people around me. She made me realize that when something bad happens, it's important to approach the feelings head on and move through them....”
- 9th Grader at Thetford Academy