Flatlands, my first full-length poetry collection, published by Black Lawrence Press in 2018, explores how my perspective has been indelibly shaped by my state of birth, Nebraska.
Some writers approach the Nebraska plains as a big, empty other into which they may imagine. I understand the appeal of that mythology. But in Ruth Williams' gorgeous new collection, Flatlands, the landscape is as alive as the plains truly are, and serves as both a generating place and quixotic companion to Williams' subtle, precise speaker. [...] I think Willa Cather, the collection's genius loci, would admire Williams’ work, recognizing its fundamental truthfulness. Which is about the highest compliment I have to give.
-Erin Belieu, author of Slant Six, Co-founder VIDA
Ruth Williams' Flatlands starts from the premise of emptiness and uncovers resources for what can be found and what's to be made. Landscape, identity, desire, the past and the moment--the distinct constellation of her concerns is thrown into focus by a taut, understated craft. These seemingly casual observations break out in bursts of insight flaring against the broad horizon.
-Don Bogen, author of An Algebra
Written in the key of Willa Cather and in kinship with the spare and located writing practice of Lorine Niedecker, Ruth Williams’ Flatlands could very well be a continuation of the Prairie Trilogy. [...] Williams works through what it means to be from and in a place, understanding we are shaped by land and language. In an era of platitudes, I admire the reluctance in these poems, balanced by awe that our bodies may be our best souvenirs—“I don't mean to make more of it/ than I should.// We are all envelopes/ of loose teeth.” Reading Williams’ poems, I feel a little less weary about being a packet of debris, about being, in general.
-Kristi Maxwell, author of That Our Eyes Be Rigged
In Flatlands, Ruth Williams turns her surroundings into well-crafted poems that deeply explore the physical and metaphorical landscape. We glimpse youth growing into maturity through a lens of desire and the elusive nature of love. [...] Her poems wisely lead us up to the edge, to the sense that there’s more beneath what is said. A fine collection.
-Twyla M. Hansen, Nebraska State Poet 2013-2018,
author of Rock • Tree • Bird
Available for purchase from Jacar Press.
Conveyance, a poetry chapbook, published by Dancing Girl Press in 2012, contains poems inspired by the time I spent working as an English teacher in Seoul, South Korea. As such, the poems chart both the pleasure and peril of cross-cultural exchange.
Nursewifery, winner of the 2019 Jacar Press Chapbook prize, is written in the persona of a military nurse, a woman whose job and gender prime her to view acts of nurturing as the highest of callings. Like the sutures that close a wound, this collection seeks to find a new way to envision acts of care, healing, and a woman’s capacity.
“Ruth Williams’ Nursewifery contains beautiful lyrics from the persona of a war nurse. I was astonished at the blood melt and rattle of death, the red weather of repairing a body, how tenderness can heal. Williams tight control of her lines always yields lovely and devastating leaps, opening up poems with each turn–the weight of a coat becoming a kind of company, parentheses serving as empathetic fences, the storage of nightmares from war serving as ‘a mirror to the skull’s interior coolness.’ These gorgeous poems had me reconsidering the kind of halo hands can make, the respect a wound requires, and all the sutures it takes to understand exactly what a body needs. Here, to cut with intention is like being held. Let each incisive poem hold you.”
-Traci Brimhall, author of Saudade
Available for purchase from Dancing Girl Press.