Poetry: Ruin & Beauty

Ruin and Beauty: RuinBeautyCover

New and Selected Poems

by Deena Metzger
Red Hen Press, 2009



What They’re Saying about Ruin and Beauty

Peter Levitt - From the Introduction to Ruin and Beauty

To dedicate one’s passion for the sentient and beautiful of our world, while maintaining the courage and love to attempt a transformation of all that would destroy it, is the life of this poet. Poem after poem makes clear her conviction that the purity of being found in the beginning, “when all beings partook / and drank of beauty / as if it were pure water” still remains, despite the ruin our species has rained down against it. As such, her poetry not only acknowledges primal beauty as the nature of life itself, it seeks to rekindle it through the power to name.

Dennis Nurske - The Border Kingdom, Burnt Island, The Fall

“Did you think The Presence would fail to leave a scar?” asks Deena Metzger in Ruin and Beauty. She’s a poet of visionary questions: “Can the world/heal/in this body?” And the stakes she plays for are high. Her new and much-anticipated book is tense with numinous presences: Neruda, Georg Trakl, the Chumash. But the arc is Metzger’s alone: the hard-won serenity and desperations of an exemplary life. She’s a poet who has faced contingency and lives in a world of final things–a deeply earned knowledge underpins this book, “that we should be met this way/that our appetitite/should be rewarded/with such grace….”

Ed Tick - War and the Soul

Deena Metzger has spent a life in fierce devotion to the words and action that cut through to where spirit still resides in the ruins of our shattered world. In RUIN AND BEAUTY, Deena gifts us with poems that serve as life preservers. This is a singular vision honed over a lifetime of devotion to words and action, love and wisdom. I can imagine seekers carrying this book 5 centuries from now and reciting these poems, much as we do Kabir and Rumi and Hafiz, to keep the spirit alive under daunting conditions.

Marc Kaminsky - Shadow Traffic

To what the poet witnesses, Deena Metzger adds nothing but the light of her imagination, whose like has not visited the West since Lawrence encountered snakes there. In her, imagination is the practice of holy recognition of each thing she observes and the act of discovering and communicating the hidden order of things.

Ariel Dorfman - In Case of Fire in a Foreign Land, Death and the Maiden

This collection is as much a gathering of souls as it is an array of soft and dazzling poems. Deena Metzger is a sentinel against silence, reminding us with each offering how blessed we are to be able to die of beauty, how we can have rain in the midst of the rubble, how to have rain and begin again.


This extraordinary collection of poems is written by a woman who has spent a lifetime traveling to the center of the unconscious. Deena Metzger enters the darkest of moments and always comes back singing. She is teacher and healer, she is both guide and woman warrior.

Ruin and Beauty is an extraordinary book. Here, Metzger listens to animals, trees, rocks, oceans–she has learned their language well. She converses with other poets. She walks with sorrow and joy as companions, over deserts, through thickets, woods, and fields.

Judith Minty - Lake Dog Journal, Yellow Dog Journal, In the Presence of Mothers, and Dancing The Fault

I am awestruck by what she knows. This is a prayerbook, a long letter to the gods, a secret conversation with the animal kingdom. She is trying to save us all. The passion in these poems burns holes in my mind. Metzger opens the door through which a multitude can enter. If you follow her, you will be changed by this journey, but you will learn many secrets of the universe, and perhaps you will find hope for the future as well.

Susan Griffin - Wrestling with the Angel of Democracy and A Chorus of Stones

You will be surprised. Deena Metzger’s poetry is well known in California, but it ought to be known throughout the world. And hopefully now with this extraordinary volume it will be. Here are beautiful poems, nuanced and yet in their own way, ferociously truthful, with a wonderful music, both plain speaking and spell binding. I recommend this magic. If as a poet I have long believed that poetry can save the world, what I want to say now is: this poetry can save the world.



4 part series of Deena reading from her poetry book “Ruin & Beauty

Ruin and Beauty: New and Selected Poems is now available from Red Hen Press, 818-831-0649 or visit their website at www.redhen.org or Bookshop.org or order through your favorite independent bookstore.