Max Ritvo began as my student. I met Max when he was a senior at Yale. This is how he began his application to get into my playwriting workshop: Dear Professor Ruhl, Thanks for reading this application. My name is Max Ritvo—I’m a senior English major in the Creative Writing Concentration. All I want to do is write. His application said that he was a poet and a comedian, part of an experimental comedy troupe. A poet and he’s funny? Huh. I reread his application, which had been left to stew in the “no” pile because he’d never written a play before. And because funny poets are a rare and wonderful species of human being, I moved Max to the “yes” pile, despite his lack of experience writing plays. It is hard to imagine now that Max’s application could ever have remained in any other pile—a strange parallel universe in which I never met Max.
Blog Posts tagged with "Max Ritvo"
Max Ritvo was a prodigiously gifted poet; toward the end of his life, he was also volcanically productive. Nothing he wrote was without flashes of brilliance, but many of these late poems would surely have been revised or jettisoned; it was slow work to sift out the very best. This he asked me to do—it seemed to me an essential labor lest the weaker poems dilute the stronger. What follows, obviously, reflects my judgment. Nothing has been revised; Elizabeth Metzger, Max’s designated literary executor, suggested one minute cut. Cancer was Max’s tragedy; it was also, as he was canny enough to see, his opportunity. Poets who die at twenty-five do not commonly leave bodies of work so urgent, so daring, so supple, so desperately alive.
Authors / News
Less than two years ago, Max Ritvo came into the Milkweed family like a ball of fire. We’re thrilled to share with you his next two books: Letters from Max, a book of correspondence between Max and the playwright Sarah Ruhl; and The Final Voicemails, a second collection of poems edited by Louise Glück.
Authors / Awards & Prizes
Milkweed Editions, in partnership with Riva Ariella Ritvo-Slifka and the Alan B. Slifka Foundation, is pleased to announce that Grady Chambers is the winner of the inaugural Max Ritvo Poetry Prize. For his manuscript, North American Stadiums, chosen by acclaimed poet and judge Henri Cole, Chambers will receive $10,000 and publication by Milkweed Editions in June 2018.
Authors / News
We are delighted to announce the acquisition of a second collection of poems by the late Max Ritvo, the celebrated author of Four Reincarnations, which the New York Times Book Review called “good-humored, appealingly sly, and surprisingly whimsical.”
Authors / Watch & Listen
A year ago today, Max Ritvo passed away after a long battle with cancer. Here are just a few of the most wonderful interviews, reviews, and remembrances of Max available on the internet.
News / Awards & Prizes
Milkweed Editions, in partnership with Riva Ariella Ritvo-Slifka and the Alan B. Slifka Foundation, is pleased to announce the inaugural Max Ritvo Poetry Prize. The winning poet will receive publication by Milkweed Editions in April 2018 and $10,000, making the Max Ritvo Poetry Prize the most lucrative first-book prize.
Authors / News
We are thrilled to announce the acquisition of Letters from Max, a book including the correspondence between Max Ritvo and Sarah Ruhl. Letters from Max tells the story of the relationship between a young poet diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma and a celebrated playwright who began as his teacher and became, over the course of an extended correspondence, his friend, and finally, his student.
"Gratitude compels the recognition that we exist because of the gifts of others, that we are all connected. And gratitude reminds you that you already have everything you need, and is thus a restraint on consumption. Practicing gratitude in a consumer society is a powerful act of resistance." —ROBIN WALL KIMMERER
In many respects, 2016 feels like a year that has mostly taken: from the notable artists we've lost—including two of our own, Max Ritvo and Phebe Hanson—to the countless assaults on the bodies and fundamental rights of our brothers and sisters, our environment, and our democracy. At this moment, when the losses are so tangible and when consumerism is at its height, we offer our deepest gratitude for all you have given in 2016.
Authors / News
One Friday afternoon this past May, I received an email from Martha Collins. She asked me to consider a manuscript by a young poet named Max Ritvo. Jean Valentine had selected his work for a chapbook competition, Martha explained, and Lucie Brock-Broido had selected some of the poems in the manuscript for publication in the Boston Review. Martha added only that there was some urgency, as an illness had thrust this young man into what would become the final stage of his life.