Ellen Bass

Ellen Bass

About Ellen Bass

Ellen Bass is an American poet, essayist and scholar born in Philadelphia in 1947. She is known, among other things, for her defense of women and children victims of abuse and LGBT victims of discrimination. She began to write poetry in the 1970s, but it was with her essays and collection of testimonies taking up the cause of victims of pedophiles, homophobia and women victims of violence that she became to know. Gradually she became a figurehead of feminism. The themes of feminism, mistreatment in its various forms, intolerance towards homosexuals and ecology, underpinned by a deep humanism run through all of her work.
Bass’s most recent collection, Indigo, was published by Copper Canyon Press in 2020 which was a finalist for The Paterson Poetry Prize, The Publishers Triangle Award and The Northern California Book Award. Her other poetry books include Like a Beggar which was a finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize, the Publishing Triangle Award, the Milt Kessler Poetry Award, the Lambda Literary Award, and the Northern California Book Award, The Human Line, and Mules of Love. Her poems appear frequently in The New Yorker, American Poetry Review, and many other journals. Among her awards are Fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, The NEA, and The California Arts Council, The Lambda Literary Award, and three Pushcart Prizes. She co-edited the first major anthology of women’s poetry, No More Masks!, and her nonfiction books include the groundbreaking The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse and Free Your Mind: The Book for Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Youth. A Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, Bass founded poetry workshops at Salinas Valley State Prison and the Santa Cruz, California jails, and teaches in the MFA writing program at Pacific University.

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