Black Lawrence Press



The first time I put meth up my nose I thought Oh.
Well that’s a line crossed. Of course
it’s that easy, becoming more than I thought possible,
in any direction—Oh. I have this theory,
that hell & family slink in like that, not
on baby cat feet, but
in one normalized Oh after another.


  • Compression has always been one of the poet’s most powerful and intoxicating tools, their process of sculpting the poem until it advances for inspection only its most essential mysteries and delights. In Ruth Baumann’s fearless, commanding debut collection, Parse, it becomes something more—the strategy more spiritual than aesthetic, with the stakes being nothing less than the poet’s own soul. It’s rare to see a debut poet build such alluring density, or such incantatory silence. Baumann’s is a devastating, urgent music: “Above the frame bells toll. / All blood out of / focus. Can you hear?”

    —Kaveh Akbar
  • It is necessary, at times, for the reader’s heart to be wrenched loose from its safe chamber where it doesn’t have to look at lives shattered by violence. Parse is an impossibly unflinching work of insight by a poet who has “heard/ a bird cry in the middle of the night// like it needed dawn now.” With unparalleled intellectual and artistic honesty, Ruth Baumann articulates a childhood ransacked by familial havoc and an adolescence undone by sexual violence. Like our very best poetry, Parse is written for others, and literature’s human truth is broadened by its presence. Here is an injured, unsettling and, yes, a living song.

    —Katie Ford
  • Ruth Baumann's Parse is a gorgeous mosaic of the fractured pieces of trauma, the glittering jagged shards of memory and annihilation, adoration and loathing, utter darkness and divine light. This is a journey into the soul's dark night, but one that is illuminated by the lantern of art. A beautiful and touching debut collection.

    —Barbara Hamby

Ruth Baumann

Ruth Baumann is a PhD student at Florida State University & holds an MFA from the University of Memphis. She is also a co-editor of Nightjar Review. She's the author of four chapbooks: A Thousand Are Poeticas (Sixth Finch), Retribution Binary (Black Lawrence Press), wildcold (Slash Pines Press), & I'll Love You Forever & Other Temporary Valentines (Salt Hill). Poems are published in Colorado Review, Sonora Review, Sycamore Review, The Journal, Third Coast & others listed at  

Baumann © Kenneth L. Johnson Author page

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