Ruth L. Schwartz was born in Geneva, New York in 1962, and spent her childhood and early adulthood moving around the country. She left home at 16, received her B.A. from Wesleyan University and her M.F.A. from the University of Michigan, then made the San Francisco Bay Area her chosen home. She has also traveled extensively in Latin America, and speaks Spanish fluently. For many years, Schwartz made her living as an AIDS educator. She has taught creative writing at Cleveland State University and Goddard College, and currently teaches at California State University Fresno.
Schwartz' other books are Edgewater (Harper-Collins, 2002; National Poetry Series winner, 2001) and Accordion Breathing and Dancing (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1996; Associated Writing Programs Competition Winner, 1994). She has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ohio Arts Council, and the Astraea Foundation for Emerging Lesbian Writers. Her poetry has won numerous national prizes, including Nimrod's Hardman/Neruda Award (twice), the Chelsea Editor's Prize (also twice), the New Letters Literary Award, the North Carolina Writer's Network Randall Jarrell Prize, and the Kalliope Sue Saniel Elkin Award.
Schwartz' poems have been anthologized in The World in Us: Lesbian and Gay Poetry of the Next Wave, American Poetry: Next Generation, The New Young American Poets, and elsewhere. In addition, she has published creative nonfiction in The Sun, the Utne Reader, and several anthologies.
About her work, Schwartz writes:
The theme of the body and its transformations -- through eros, illness, disability and death -- figures prominently in my work. My ten years in AIDS and cancer education, and my close personal experience with kidney failure and transplantation, have profoundly informed my writing; so has my visceral awareness of the violence and alienation so prevalent in urban American life at the close of the twentieth century. Still, my belief in joy -- and in the redemptive capabilities of sexuality and love -- are at the core of my poetry.