by Sarah Ruhl
Forthcoming in February 2020
Playwright Sarah Ruhl’s first book of poetry, 44 Poems for You, offers poems that form a subtle, personal meditation on family, motherhood, and loss. With a finely tuned ear for language, Ruhl’s poetry sings with a humbling honesty about what it means to share our lives with others and with those who form our hollows: a miscarriage, a close friend lost to cancer, and the sublimity of nature. She delves into womanhood through the physical reality of the everyday, and shows us life through her hands?making terrariums or jam with her husband, holding a child, grasping the counter as she bleeds. Succinct and contemplative, generous and wise, Sarah Ruhl--one of the greatest contemporary playwrights working today?addresses these poems to you.
In 2012, Sarah Ruhl was a distinguished author and playwright, twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Max Ritvo, a student in her playwriting class at Yale University, was an exuberant, opinionated, and highly gifted poet. He was also in remission from pediatric cancer.
Over the next four years—in which Ritvo’s illness returned and his health declined, even as his productivity bloomed—the two exchanged letters that spark with urgency, humor, and the desire for connection. Reincarnation, books, the afterlife as an Amtrak quiet car, good soup: in Ruhl and Ritvo’s correspondence, all ideas are fair, nourishing game, shared and debated in a spirit of generosity and love. “We’ll always know one another forever, however long ever is,” Ritvo writes. “And that’s all I want—is to know you forever.”
Studded with poems and songs, Letters from Max is a deeply moving portrait of a friendship, and a shimmering exploration of love, art, mortality, and the afterlife co-authored by Sarah Ruhl and Max Ritvo.
“Tender . . . A strange and beautiful volume made up of Ruhl’s correspondence with Ritvo.”-New Yorker
“Moving and erudite . . . devastating and lyrical . . . Ruhl draws a comparison between their correspondence and that between poets Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop, and indeed, with the depth and intelligence displayed, one feels in the presence of literary titans.”-Publishers Weekly
“Immediate comparisons will be made to Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Artist . . . this book is a nuanced look at the evolution of an incredible talent facing mortality and the mentor, never condescending, who recognizes his gift. Their infectious letters shine with a love of words and beauty.”-The Observer
The Porous Fabric Between Life and Death: Sarah Ruhl Interviewed by Elizabeth Metzger in Bomb Magazine
The New Yorker: The Poetry I Was Grateful For in 2018
100 Essays I Don't Have Time to Write: On Umbrellas and Sword Fights, Parades and Dogs, Fire Alarms, Children, and Theater*
*Please consider these essays as starting points. Consider them starting points for someone else to finish.
These essays were written over a period of about five years, a period in which I also gave birth to three babies. In a way these essays were my best defense against the vaporous lack of memory that comes with very little sleep. As an exercise, I would see, if I happened to have had a thought in the morning, if I could hold it, and write it down by nightfall, after the kids had gone to sleep. Those thoughts, held fast against sleeplessness and various other forms of domestic chaos, became this collection of short essays.
In an episode of the podcast The Catapult, Sarah reads from her collection of essays 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write: On Umbrellas and Sword Fights, Parades and Dogs, Fire Alarms, Children, and Theater. Click here to listen or download from iTunes.
Sarah's poems “Summer, Rhode Island,” “Miscarriage,” and “I Wanted Music” have now been published in Narrative Magazine.
100 ESSAYS... was selected as one of the 100 Notable Books of 2014 by the New York Times.
Now available for purchase at