Ellen Bass

Ellen Bass Poems

Bring me your pain, love. Spread
it out like fine rugs, silk sashes,
warm eggs, cinnamon
and cloves in burlap sacks. Show me
...

Finally, morning. This loneliness
feels more ordinary in the light, more like my face
...

For months my daughter carried
a dead monarch in a quart mason jar.
To and from school in her backpack,
...

The women in my family
strip the succulent
...

5.

Bad things are going to happen.
Your tomatoes will grow a fungus
and your cat will get run over.
Someone will leave the bag with the ice cream
...

Ellen Bass Biography

Ellen Bass (born 1947, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is an American poet and co-author of The Courage to Heal. She grew up in Margate City, NJ, where her parents owned a liquor store. She attended Goucher College, where she graduated magna cum laude in 1968 with her bachelor’s degree. She pursued a master’s degree at Boston University, where she studied with Anne Sexton, and graduated in 1970. From 1970–1974, Bass worked as an administrator at Project Place, a social service center in Boston. She currently is teaching in the low residency MFA program at Pacific University in Oregon and has been teaching Writing About Our Lives workshops since 1974 in Santa Cruz, California. Her poems have appeared in hundreds of journals and anthologies, including The Atlantic Monthly, Ms., The American Poetry Review, The Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, and Field. Much of her earlier writing is confessional poetry. Her nonfiction books include I Never Told Anyone, Free Your Mind, and The Courage to Heal, which has sold over a million copies and has been translated into twelve languages. She lives in Santa Cruz, California, where she has taught poetry and creative writing since 1974. She was awarded the Elliston Book Award for Poetry from the University of Cincinnati, Nimrod/Hardman’s Pablo Neruda Prize, The Missouri Review’s Larry Levis Award, the Greensboro Poetry Prize, the New Letters Poetry Prize, the Chautauqua Poetry Prize, a Pushcart Prize, and a fellowship from the California Arts Council. The Human Line (Copper Canyon Press, 2007) was named among the notable books of 2007 in the section poetry by the San Francisco Chronicle[6] and Mules of Love (BOA Editions, 2002) won the 2002 Lambda Literary Award in the category lesbian poetry.)

The Best Poem Of Ellen Bass

Basket Of Figs

Bring me your pain, love. Spread
it out like fine rugs, silk sashes,
warm eggs, cinnamon
and cloves in burlap sacks. Show me

the detail, the intricate embroidery
on the collar, tiny shell buttons,
the hem stitched the way you were taught,
pricking just a thread, almost invisible.

Unclasp it like jewels, the gold
still hot from your body. Empty
your basket of figs. Spill your wine.

That hard nugget of pain, I would suck it,
cradling it on my tongue like the slick
seed of pomegranate. I would lift it

tenderly, as a great animal might
carry a small one in the private
cave of the mouth.

Ellen Bass Comments

ellen gilman 04 May 2019

Both of my children are celebrating wedding anniversaries in the next two weeks. I'm sending the older couple GATE C22 and the younger couple THE MORNING AFTER because I can't think of anything more gorgeous to give them. I adore your poems! ! ! Thank you.

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