Welcome back, Ruth Baumann!

During the month of June, we are celebrating the authors that came to us during our last open reading period. Today we bring you Ruth Baumann, author of the poetry collection Parse, which is due out in November of 2018. Parse will be Ruth’s second title with Black Lawrence Press.

Ruth BaumannThe Author

Ruth Baumann is a PhD student at Florida State University & holds an MFA from the University of Memphis. She is also a co-editor of Nightjar Review. Her first chapbook, I’ll Love You Forever & Other Temporary Valentines, won the Salt Hill Dead Lake Chapbook Contest in 2014. Her second chapbook, wildcold, won the Slash Pines Chapbook Contest in 2015. Her third, Retribution Binary, won the Black River Chapbook Competition and was published by Black Lawrence Press. Poems are published in Colorado Review, Sonora Review, Sycamore Review, The Journal, Third Coast & others listed at www.ruthbaumann.com.

On writing Parse

This book came from a really painful period of reckoning. I spent my teenage years not sober & they were full of attendant chaos & trauma. I started to live a calmer life at nineteen, but it took years for all the emotional wreckage to truly catch up with me–probably because it took that long before I was psychologically able to both see clearly & cope. I wrote the second & third section of this book while walking through the pent-up grief, & wrestling with this bizarre reality I’d found myself in where I was a person actually experiencing repressed memories unrepressing, something I never thought would happen to me. I was finally moving out of survival mode & able to be still, & the whiplash was intense. The first section of the book was written about a year earlier, but it deals with some of the trauma in a way that I thought led into the subsequent sections. The good news–as I want to leave you with good news–is that the rawness faded, the period of almost violent internal suffering ended, & I hope the existence of these poems speaks to that truth, that it is possible (in my experience) to look squarely at what you have been running from, what you have been burying the deepest, that you can feel it all & you will live.


Broadest Daylight
I let go of one language.
I threw it into a pool.
It threw me
into the world, then.
Over & over I ask. What more
can I do to speed
through emptiness?
This is real sobriety says
the crowd of birds, herons
maybe, flocked & free
around a Florida winter’s blue-eyed sky,
able to love
or at least to peck
a dead creature’s eyes
That Kind of History
I want to chisel new tools from anger, from body, those slow wrong feasts. When I was myself I
struck a deal: I knew the handcuffs, but only by mind, that faulty, spider of a compass.
Gods of Unreasonable Reality I ask. I own merely the language of fight but I ask for that chair
across from my actual self ten years ago. The stars like ringworm in the sky but I ask. The stars like
little selves disassociated from dark beds but I ask. I close my limbs I do not belong to what I’ve
given myself to, time & time again, my this self a soil tilled & tilled, raw earth red & without core:
do you see, I’d ask, if I got that chair. Do you see what you don’t have to do?
Ars Poetica
when my father said it’s your fault
you were raped the black in his eyes
was big enough to put a fist in
but instead I chose colors I chose
flags I cooked so much poison
I set a place for myself
at my own table

Poems herein previously published in Fog and New South