ruth weiss was born to a Jewish family in Berlin, and her family fled the rise of Nazism to Vienna, and then New York City. She spent World War II in Chicago, returned to Germany after the war, and in 1948 returned to Chicago, went to New Orleans in 1950, and later hitchhiked to San Francisco, where she became involved with the Beat scene in North Beach. There she met Kerouac, Cassady, and a host of others. She held regular poetry and jazz sessions at The Cellar, and was the first to perform poems onstage with a jazz band (though she says, “The boys took the credit.”) Herb Caen dubbed her the “Goddess of the Beat Generation.” In 1959 she published Gallery of Women, and in 1960, finished “The Brink,” which Paul Beattie adapted for the screen, and they filmed in 1961. weiss’ self-described masterpiece is Desert Journal. She lives in California, and travels frequently between San Francisco and Vienna, Austria.