Smile: The Story of a Face

by Sarah Ruhl


will be published October 5, 2021

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At the height of her career, with her first play opening on Broadway, and a happily married mother of three, Sarah Ruhl had just survived a high-risk twins pregnancy when she discovered the left side of her face completely paralyzed. She is assured that ninety percent of Bell’s palsy patients see spontaneous improvement and experience a full recovery. Like Ruhl’s own mother. Like Angelina Jolie. But Sarah is in the unlucky ten percent. And for a woman, wife, mother, and artist working in theater, the paralysis and the disconnect between the interior and exterior brings significant and specific challenges. So Ruhl begins an intense decade-long search for a cure while simultaneously grappling with the reality of her new face—one that, while recognizably her own—is incapable of accurately communicating feelings or intentions.

In a series of piercing, witty, and lucid meditations, Ruhl chronicles her journey as a patient, wife, mother, and artist. She explores the struggle of a body yearning to match its inner landscape, the pain of postpartum depression, the story of a marriage, being a playwright and working mom to three tiny children, and the desire for a resilient spiritual life in the face of illness.

Brimming with insight, humility, and levity, Smile is a triumph by one of America’s leading playwrights. It is an intimate examination of loss and reconciliation, and above all else, the importance of perseverance and hope in the face of adversity.




44 Poems for You

by Sarah Ruhl


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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.

Watch the Cooper Canyon Press Launch Party 


Tithe Poem, Read by Sarah Ruhl


Summer Rhode Island, Read by Sarah Ruhl






Letters from Max: A Book of Friendship

by Sarah Ruhl


 
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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

An audio recording of Max Ritvo, beloved former student and friend, introducing me at a poetry reading 


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*

by Sarah Ruhl

 

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*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.

 

Read a randomly selected essay