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The Human Lineby Ellen Bass
Synopses & Reviews
Ellen Bass's fifth collection, The Human Line, startles with its beauty, depth, and range. Her poems carry us through the longing and uncertainty, the joy and grief of the human condition, surprising again and again with their intimate images and stunning metaphors. While Bass can delight us with life's endearing absurdities, she also takes on many of the crucial moral dilemmas of our times. Even when facing global issues, her touch is deft, her voice is sure and precise. Offering homage to each transient moment, she reminds us to treasure the small, the plain, the surprising — all the experiences of life that lash us to The Human Line.
"Ellen Bass's frighteningly personal poems about sex, love, birth, motherhood and aging are kept from mere confession by the graces of wit, an observant eye, an empathetic heart, and just the right image deployed at just the right time. The Human Line is full of real stunners." Billy Collins
"Ever since her first book, I have admired the tough, urgent, and wildly human poems of Ellen Bass. The Human Line deepens my regard for her necessary and indelible voice." Thomas Lux
"There are some lovely poems in The Human Line, poems that live up to the splendid title, with all that it implies of our continuity in grief and joy. There are poems that cut deep into our sense of self and of primal relationships." Carolyn Kizer
"Ellen Bass is such a trustworthy guide — awake to the certainty of death, to the irreconcilable losses, and to the daily imperfect reprieve of love. These are poems of quiet joy and true comfort. I read the book to the end, and then started, from the beginning, again." Marie Howe
Bass--co-author of million-seller Courage to Heal--says poetry is where she "grieves, rages, prays."
“Poetry,” writes best-selling author Ellen Bass, “is the way I pay attention, appreciate, give praise, struggle, grieve, rage, and pray. It’s the way I embody my love for the world.”
The Human Line, Bass’ seventh book of poems, startles with its precise detail, intimate images, and wild metaphors. Bass brings attention to life’s endearing absurdities, and many of the poems flash with a keen sense of humor. She also faces many of the crucial moral dilemmas of our time—genetic engineering, environmental issues, continuous war, heterosexism—and grounds her vision in the small, private workings of the heart.
. . . When I get home,
my son has a headache, and though he’s
almost grown, asks me to sing him a song.
We lie together on the lumpy couch
and I warble out the old show tunes, Night and Day . . .
They Can’t Take That Away from Me . . . A cheap
silver chain shimmers across his throat
rising and falling with his pulse. There never was
anything else. Only these excruciatingly
insignificant creatures we love.
Ellen Bass is co-author of the million-selling book Courage to Heal. She lives and teaches in Santa Cruz, California.
About the Author
Ellen Bass is co-author (with Laura Davis) of The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse (Harper Collins 1988, 1994), which has sold almost two million copies and has been translated into ten languages. She co-edited (with Florence Howe) the groundbreaking No More Masks! An Anthology of Poems by Women (Doubleday, 1973), has published several volumes of poetry, including Mules of Love (BOA, 2002) which won the Lambda Literary Award. 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. 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. She teaches widely nationally and internationally, as well as at Pacific University's MFA Writing Program.
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