These days, Ruth Baumann is all about Joy, both figuratively and very literally. She’s working on her PhD in Creative Writing at Florida State University and her dissertation will focus on lighter themes than those for which she has been known in the past. And then there’s Joy, her tortoiseshell cat.
“She’s just perfect (side note: did she mean purrfect?),” laughs Baumann. “I’ve had her since she was about three days old and we’re very bonded. I’m obsessed.”
Baumann’s earlier body of work has been heavily influenced by trauma, primarily because for her, writing has been an outlet and a way to process her life experiences. She says she can only write about what she’s dealing with and growing through, and she had to write about difficult things to confront them. Fortunately, life hasn’t been that heavy lately.
“I wrote Parse about three or four years ago and by now I feel very differently,” she says. “I’m writing more about love and gratitude…and joy!”
Much of her gratitude and joy stems not only from her cat, but also from having a good community of friends around her in Tallahassee. Baumann is originally from northern Virginia and earned her Masters Degree from Tennessee, but she says the Creative Writing program at Florida State was the best to which she applied and she’s glad she’s here, with people around her who have become like family and who have taught her the values of love.
When I ask her why she writes poetry, she doesn’t hesitate.
“Poetry seems exactly like how I think and communicate: in blunt, clear bursts,” she says. “It’s a form of meditation for me, an honest self-reflection.”
However, she cautions, poetry is not for everyone.
“You have to really, really need poetry to follow it as a path, because it’s not practical. You have to feel very called to it.”
This article was first published by Midtown Reader.