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Ruth Dickey

Poet, Writer, Community Builder

Mud Blooms was selected for the MURA Award from Harbor Mountain Press and awarded a 2019 Silver Nautilus Book Award and a 2020 IPPY Award.

 “In an age of social and political divisiveness, Ruth Dickey’s poems of loss, hunger and survival are not only vital but necessary. In her debut, Mud Blooms, the poet deftly weaves together three stories: reckoning with her mother’s “winding down” from age and illness, working at Miriam’s Kitchen with a menagerie of sympathetic and unruly characters, and her travels and discoveries in Latin America. In her capable hands, people who might have been portrayed as maudlin or pandered to are made real; she has given a voice to the vulnerable and overlooked and they are feisty, complicated, dirty, poetic and deserving of love. Like all of us.”

– Sjohnna McCray, author of Rapture, winner of the Walt Whitman Award

“These are clear eyed poems, carefully, beautifully, constructed and informed by years of being in communion with homeless folks… Ruth Dickey uses form and content to great effect reminding us that we are all fallible and flawed, that we are all in search for “The comfort of what is familiar,” and more importantly, that not one of us “gets to wear a white hat.”

Claudia Castro Luna, Washington State Poet Laureate

 “In Ruth Dickey’s Mud Blooms a world builds around us from everything we neglected to admire: a starfish’s “unfurling arms, anemone undulating,” the “bathing…[of] shoeless, cracking feet,” or “the frenzy of petals.” Dickey shines a light both on the beauty of the everyday and on the extraordinary, placing them on equal ground. With the patience for beauty of an origami artist, Dickey takes time to develop the shape of her scenes and the music of her lines. She’s a poet with the rare gift not only of the line that sings but also of a song that bears truth. “

 —A. Van Jordan, Author of Rise, PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Award, Guggenheim Fellow

Updates & news

So grateful to get to talk with Susan Kirby-Smith about what it means to create welcoming spaces, why I’m grateful for UNC-G and their MFA program, and why I hope every struggling writer keeps writing.

Huge thanks to the team at Poetry Northwest for giving a home to this extended conversation with the extremely generous and brilliant Gabriela Denise Frank about Mud Blooms, SAL, home, & what’s ahead.

I’m also grateful for this conversation on the SAL blog with Gabriela Denise Frank about poems & hungers & gardens & grief & writing & rejection and so much more.

And I’m over the moon that I get to follow in the footsteps of Lisa Lucas and join the National Book Foundation!

Recent readings

Virtual Salon with Lesley Wheeler, May 2020

I was thrilled to be in conversation with Dr. Michele Harper, author of The Beauty in Breaking at the Portland Book Festival on November 5, 2020 – you can listen free on the festival archive, and also on The Archive Project Podcast.


About Me

Ruth Dickey has spent 25 years working at the intersection of community building, writing, and art.  The recipient of a Mayor’s Arts Award from Washington DC, and an individual artist grant from the DC Commission and Arts and Humanities, Ruth’s poems and essays have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and won three Larry Neal Writing Awards.  She is the author of the full length collection Mud Blooms (Harbor Mountain Press 2019), and the chapbook, Paper Houses, Sky Ceilings (Pudding House Press 2006); her poems and essays have appeared widely, including in AlimentumThe Baltimore Review, Cave Wall, Cincinnati Review, Ocean State Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, The Potomac Review, Sonora Review, and StorySouth.  Ruth holds an MFA in poetry from UNC-Greensboro, and a BS in Foreign Service and an MA in Latin American Studies from Georgetown University.  She is a voracious reader, an ardent fan of dogs and coffee, was a co-founder of mothertongue in DC, and has taught poetry workshops in soup kitchens, drop in centers and the DC Public Schools.  


In conversation with Isabel Allende about In the Midst of Winter, love, writing and life – watch on C-Span or listen through SAL/ on Air podcast.


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