Photo Credit: Frank Siteman

Ron Slate

b. 1950

Current City, State, Country

Aquinnah, Massachusetts, USA

Birth City, State, Country

Quincy, Massachusetts, USA


Ron Slate was born in Quincy, Massachusetts in 1950. His mother was a Holocaust survivor in France and his father flew in the U.S. Air Force during WWII. He earned a masters degree in creative writing from Stanford University but left academia to work for many years in high tech marketing communications. His first poetry collection, The Incentive of the Maggot, received several prizes and was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle poetry prize. It was followed by The Great Wave. His new book is Joy Ride (Carnegie Mellon Univ Press). He is the publisher/editor of the online literary arts magazine On The Seawall. He and his wife Nancy lived for 40 years in Milton Massachusetts and now reside in Aquinnah, Massachusetts on Martha’s Vineyard.

What is the relationship between Judaism and/or Jewish culture and your poetry?

My work has reflected on my maternal family’s experiences as French Jews in hiding from 1940-1945, and also on the lives of my immigrant grandparents and parents. Topically speaking, my poems have touched on many Jewish subjects—my days in Hebrew school, the Kaballah, the rituals of mourning, and Jewish literary figures. Edmond Jabes wrote, “Judaism warrants that the written belongs to the unwritten as well as the unwritten to the written, because Utterance means book to the Jew, and book, an ever-resumed reading of his fate.” For me, poetry arises from memory but unfolds as vision—it envisions the world within our world. There is severity in this speech and imagery—but also a comedic impulse, a certain strangeness of expression. The historical exile of the Jews taught that there is a life elsewhere—and for the artist, the elsewhere exists within the world directly in front of us.

Published Works

Joy Ride (Carnegie Mellon Univ Press, 2023)
The Great Wave (Houghton Mifflin, 2009)
The Incentive of the Maggot (Houghton Mifflin, 2005)

About The House; with Jenny Slate (Concord Free Press, 2017)

Links to Sample Works

Current Title

Editor at On The Seawall


University of Massachusetts, B.A., 1968
Stanford University, M.A., Creative Writing, 1973

Subject Matter