Ask Anyone (2016)

ask anyone is the record, think disk, of Ruth Lepson's encounters with some of the musicians she has taught at Boston's New England Conservatory of Music. For twenty years, she has worked in a world where words meet music and the results lead, often as not, to performance. At the Conservatory she befriended her colleague, the great soprano saxophonist and lover of poetry, Steve Lacy, who long collaborated with her poet-hero Robert Creeley. Creeley is ask anyone's guiding spirit, but the book's looseness, stretching out and swing is all Lepson. In ask anyone Lepson honors her lineage by bringing it into the here and now. Lend an ear.


The gift of Lepson’s poetry lies in the degree of attention she pays the world. Like the painter in “the painter’s turning his head,” Lepson believes that “in talk in art two things going on//two languages one of love and one of noticing//each a pleasure they happen together.” ask anyone offers its pleasures the way a musician builds a chord, each line a distinct note that resonates in fresh and harmonious ways.
— Joyce Peseroff
I have this theory (burp) that every poet, including me, wants to write like the proverbial “ancient Chinese” one on a mountain top; to write clearly, whether passionate or wise or both (can one be both?), to simply tell. Well, you’re a model of that. Only Joe Ceravolo of my generation came anywhere near.
— Bill Berkson
Ruth Lepson is the real deal. Always thrilling to find signs of life on a dying planet.
— August Kleinzahler
And, oh yeah, did I mention how much I love Ruth Lepson’s “ask anyone”? I like it so much I keep giving it away to people I think deserving of its freshness & smack gravity. Good lord!
— David Rivard
One reason I enjoy Lepson’s work is that she does things I wouldn’t think of on my own. She’s interested in the interstitial spaces between language and music, between words loose in our head and words fixed on the page, and in the synergy between language and visual art. She’s influenced by her concision, her rhythms, and her deployment of rhyme as occasional punctuation.
— Joyce Peseroff (Read the full review)
There are ways to paint, it’s said, while attending to other things, other senses, for example, listening carefully to sax improvisation, feeling thirsty. If you keep mixing enthusiasms you’ll be taking from one medium, giving to another as well as yourself—this sensual, sensible give-and-take seems the core of Ruth Lepson’s ask anyone....Seeing painting, teaching, writing, performing in this manner lets Ruth make her point with sweeping economy of means and argument....The writing here is provocative, agnostic, uncloying, like a good amount of the music she hears and contributes to the at New England Conservatory.
— Jack Kimball (Read the full review)
ask anyone is a book of quiet gestures and fleeting words. It is modest, as I noted earlier, though perhaps a better word would be unassuming. I think of Creeley, or Lorine Niedecker, among others, in the same way. And that reserve is valuable; Lepson’s book is not bombastic, the sinkhole which claims so much contemporary verse. She shows a subtle care for lines and enjambments; she knows that poetry should invite readers to ask questions, be confused, leap at ideas, and look around. I found myself doing those things and more on every page of Lepson’s ask anyone.
— Allen Bramhall (Read the full review)

Box Lunch

A musical accompaniment to Ask Anyone came to life with the band Box Lunch. 14 compositions were written and recorded for the project featuring Ruth reading and performing on each piece. It was performed at various clubs and galleries in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Boston, and Lowell, MA. Noah Preminger on sax and Masa Kamaguchi on bass improvised to a few of these poems in our collaboration at Sala Ramona in Barcelona.

You can listen to the music full length and without interruption by clicking on the link below. We hope you enjoy it and thank you for your support and interest.


Paperback:  68 pages
Publisher: Pressed Wafer
Published: 2016
Language: English
ISBN 13:978-1-940396-17-0
Cover Photo: Alberado Morell
Design: Michael Russo