ruth weiss is an internationally famous poet, artist, actress, and filmmaker. Born in Berlin, Germany, on June 24, 1928, ruth weiss spent her childhood exploring nature, reading, and writing. In 1938, her news editor father, mother, and ruth fled Nazi Germany and arrived in The United States. After moving around to find a stable home in New York and Iowa, the family settled in Chicago, Illinois. ruth wrote a poem about how America saved her life, and she sent it to President Roosevelt and received a heartfelt response. At a young age, the already lyrical and rebellious writer ruth changed the spelling of her name from Ruth Weiss to lowercase ruth weiss as a protest of the law-and-order ethos of her birthplace in Germany, where nouns are capitalized.
ruth graduated from Sullivan High School in Chicago in 1946 at the top of her class. She later attended Neuchâtel College in Switzerland. In 1949, ruth moved back to Chicago and lived at the Art Circle, a house on Chicago's near north side that rented to artists and poets, including Gwendolyn Brooks, who mentored ruth. It was there where painter Earnest Alexander pulled her poem out of the typewriter and chanted for her to read it to the musician friends hanging out in their living room. And like magic, the musicians started to jam to her poetry. ruth then hitchhiked to New Orleans and performed with musicians in watering holes, and painted her hair green to raise awareness of war orphans.
In 1952, ruth heard about the magnificent fog in San Francisco and hitchhiked to see it for herself, making the Bay Area her stomping grounds for decades. ruth contributed to American literary history as a poet associated with word jazz or reading poetry to improvisational jazz music. She is also considered a member of America's Beat Generation (mid-1950s – mid-1970s) and at the forefront of women's rights. ruth weiss has written more than twenty-three books and has performed across Europe and America. She has also directed films such as the Brink, a muse in Stephen Arnold’s films in the 60s-70s, modeled in art schools, wrote theater plays, painted watercolor haiku, and loved to dance!
Later ruth settled in the redwood forest of Albion, California, in Mendocino County. She was married to artist Paul Blake for forty-one years. They had no children. Some of her most notable books are Can't Stop the Beat, Desert Journal, Steps, Single Out, Light, Full Circle, a Fool’s Journey, and many more.
Known for her sparse poignant writing, ruth weiss won the 2020 Cinequest Maverick Spirit Award for her innovations in literature and the arts. She is the subject of a film called ruth weiss, the beat goddess by filmmaker Melody C. Miller. The film premiered at the Asolo Art Film Festival in Italy, won Best Documentary at the Peekskill Film Festival, won Visionary Women In Film Award at the Santa Cruz Film Festival, and is nominated for Best Documentary at 10 other film festivals nationwide.
ruth weiss is also well-known for her long-time environmental activism, often writing about the plight of whales and redwood trees, issues concerning the deep ecology of our planet and her California coastal regions. ruth loved spending time with friends, reading her poems at gatherings, walking in the redwood forest, and always loved to write.
ruth weiss, 92, passed peacefully of natural causes on July 31, 2020 in Albion, California, in her home in the redwoods, surrounded by friends.
(biography from the ruth wiess foundation)