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Like a Beggar

Like a Beggar by Ellen Bass
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Featured on NPR's The Writer's Almanac

Ellen Bass’s new poetry collection, Like a Beggar, pulses with sex, humor and compassion.”The New York Times

Bass tries to convey everyday wonder on contemporary experiences of sex, work, aging, and war. Those who turn to poetry to become confidants for another's stories and secrets will not be disappointed.”Publishers Weekly

In her fifth book of poetry, Bass addresses everything from Saturn’s rings and Newton’s law of gravitation to wasps and Pablo Neruda. Her words are nostalgic, vivid, and visceral. Bass arrives at the truth of human carnality rooted in the extraordinary need and promise of the individual. Bass shows us that we are as radiant as we are ephemeral, that in transience glistens resilient history and the remarkable fluidity of connection. By the collection’s endfollowing her musings on suicide and generosity, desire and repetitionit becomes lucidly clear that Bass is not only a poet but also a philosopher and a storyteller.”Booklist

Ellen Bass brings a deft touch as she continues her ongoing interrogations of crucial moral issues of our times, while simultaneously delighting in endearing human absurdities. From the start of Like a Beggar, Bass asks her readers to relax, even though "bad things are going to happen," because the "bad" gets mined for all manner of goodness.

From "Another Story":

After dinner, we're drinking scotch at the kitchen table.
Janet and I just watched a NOVA special
and we're explaining to her mother
the age and size of the universe
the hundred billion stars in the hundred billion galaxies.
Dotty lives at Dominican Oaks, making her way down the long hall.
How about the sun? she asks, a little farmshit in the endlessness.
I gather up a cantaloupe, a lime, a cherry,
and start revolving this salad around the chicken carcass.
This is the best scotch I ever tasted, Dotty says,
even though we gave her the Maker's Mark
while we're drinking Glendronach...

Ellen Bass's poetry includes  Like A Beggar (Copper Canyon Press, 2014), The Human Line  (Copper Canyon Press, 2007), which was named a Notable Book by the San Francisco Chronicle, and Mules of Love (BOA, 2002), which won the Lambda Literary Award.  She co-edited (with Florence Howe) the groundbreaking No More Masks! An Anthology of Poems by Women (Doubleday, 1973). Her work has frequently been published in The New Yorker, American Poetry Review, The New Republic, The Sun  and many other journals. She is co-author of several non-fiction books, including The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse (HarperCollins, 1988, 2008) which has sold over a million copies and been translated into twelve languages. She is part of the core faculty of the MFA writing program at Pacific University.

Copper Canyon Press; October 2015
70 pages; ISBN 9781619321328
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Title: Like a Beggar
Author: Ellen Bass
  • News
Weekly Poem: Ellen Bass wants you to eat that strawberry - PBS NewsHour
Mon, 25 Aug 2014 14:01:39 -0700
PBS NewsHourWeekly Poem: Ellen Bass wants you to eat that strawberryPBS NewsHourDuring the seven years that Bass worked on ...
Readorama: Poet Ellen Bass captures life up close, personal - Kansas City Star
Fri, 26 Feb 2016 09:01:21 -0800
Kansas City StarReadorama: Poet Ellen Bass captures life up close, personalKansas City StarBesides The New Yorker, Bass' ...
The Small Country - The New Yorker
Sun, 16 Aug 2015 21:06:49 -0700
The Small CountryThe New YorkerUnique, I think, is the Scottish tartle, that hesitation when introducing someone whose name ...
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