About

Ruth Forman The Quick:

Ruth Forman is the author of three award-winning books: poetry collections We Are the Young Magicians (Beacon, 1993) and Renaissance, (Beacon, 1997) and children’s book, Young Cornrows Callin Out the Moon (Children’s Book Press, 2007). She is the recipient of the Barnard New Women Poets Prize, The Pen Oakland Josephine Miles Literary Award, The Durfee Artist Fellowship, a DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities Artist Fellowship, the National Council of Teachers of English Notable Book Award, and recognition by The American Library Association. She provides writing workshops at retreats, schools and universities across the country and abroad, and has presented in forums such as the United Nations, the PBS series The United States of Poetry and National Public Radio. Ruth is a former teacher of creative writing with the University of Southern California and June Jordan’s Poetry for the People program at UC Berkeley and a thirteen-year faculty member with the VONA-Voices writing program. Also an MFA graduate of the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television, she frequently collaborates on film, music, dance, theatre, art and media projects. Her latest collection is Prayers Like Shoes (2009) on Whit Press. When not writing and teaching, she practices a passion for martial arts: classical Yang family style tai chi chuan, tai chi sword, bo staff and karate. Ms. Forman currently lives in Washington, DC.

 

 

The Long:

Ruth Forman is a highly acclaimed writer and poet, as well as a former teacher in June Jordan’s Poetry for the People program at UC Berkeley.  Her first poetry collection, We Are the Young Magicians (Beacon Press, 1993), won the 1992 Barnard New Women Poets Prize and wide acclaim for its fresh approach to poetry, as well as a listing by the American Library Association as a 2001 Popular Paperback for Young Adults.  She was welcomed by QBR The Black Book Review as a writer who “not only upholds the traditions of the ’sistapoets’ in whose steps (she) follows—Audre Lorde, Alice Walker and Sonia Sanchez—but also boldly blazes brand new trails.”  In its starred and boxed review, Booklist said Forman’s “poems are alive and kicking; they pound and pulse with a hard-won sense of self, beauty, femininity, strength and righteous indignation….Forman is sexy, bittersweet, funny, feisty and real.”

Her second poetry collection, Renaissance (Beacon Press, 1997), fulfilled the promise of her debut and won the 1999 Pen Oakland Josephine Miles Award as well as a nomination by Beacon Press for the Pulitzer Prize.  Of this collection Sonia Sanchez noted, “Hers is a commitment to the possibilities of life.  Joy.  Beauty (though terrible at times on this earth).  What an impressive rich song she sings.” Forman’s first children’s book, Young Cornrows Callin Out the Moon (Children’s Book Press, 2007), celebrates the Philadelphia summers of her youth, and received a 2007 National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Notable Book Award in the Language Arts.  Forman is also the recipient of The Durfee Artist Fellowship, a DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities Artist Fellowship and recognition by The American Library Association.

Ms. Forman’s latest poetry collection, Prayers Like Shoes (2009), is published on Whit press as the next in the Hedgebrook Writers’ series.  Of this collection, Peter Sellars says, “Here is the new era proclaimed in strong, clear, African-American voice…It is arriving on schedule for the new America.”  Her work is widely anthologized.

While attending Berkeley, Ms. Forman studied with poets Paula Gunn Allen, Opal Palmer Adisa, Yusef Komunyakaa, and June Jordan, who fostered in her a commitment to poetry and the African American literary tradition. Through poetry, what June Jordan expressed as “the utmost precision in the use of language, hence, density and intensity of expression,” she is committed to the call to inspire others.  Ruth is a former teacher of creative writing with the University of Southern California and June Jordan’s Poetry for the People program at UC Berkeley and a thirteen-year faculty member with the VONA-Voices writing program.  She provides writing workshops at retreats, schools and universities across the country and abroad and has presented in forums such as the United Nations, the National Black Arts Festival, the PBS series The United States of Poetry and National Public Radio.  Also an MFA graduate of the USC School of Cinema-Television, she frequently collaborates on music, dance, theatre, art and media projects.  When not writing and teaching, she spends her free time practicing another passion, tai chi sword.

Ms. Forman currently lives in Washington, DC.

Photo: Christine Bennett – cbimages.org