Ellen Bass

Ellen Bass. Courtesy WordTemple.

Ellen Bass (born 1947) is an American poet, and co-author of The Courage to Heal.



Courtesy Peony Moon.

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Bass grew up in Margate City, New Jersey (where her parents owned a liquor store). She attended Goucher College, where she graduated magna cum laude in 1968 with a bachelor’s degree. She pursued a master’s degree at Boston University, where she studied with Anne Sexton, and graduated in 1970.

From 1970 to 1974, Bass worked as an administrator at Project Place, a social service center in Boston.[1] She teaches in the low residency M.F.A. program at Pacific University in Oregon, and has been teaching Writing About Our Lives workshops since 1974 in Santa Cruz, California.[2]

Her poems have appeared in hundreds of journals and anthologies, including The Atlantic Monthly, Ms., 'the' American Poetry Review, the Kenyon Review, Ploughshares,[3] and Field. Much of her earlier writing is confessional poetry.

Her non-fiction 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.[4]


Bass has been 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.[5]

The Human Line (Copper Canyon Press, 2007) was named a Notable Book of 2007 by the San Francisco Chronicle,[3] and Mules of Love (BOA Editions, 2002) won the 2002 Lambda Literary Award for Poetry.



  • I'm Not Your Laughing Daughter. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1973.
  • Of Separateness and Merging. Brookline, MA: Autumn Press, 1977.
  • For Earthly Survival: Poems. Santa Cruz, CA: Moving Parts Press, 1980.
  • Our Stunning Harvest: Poems. Philadelphia: New Society Publishers, 1985.
  • Mules of Love. Rochester, NY: BOA Editions, 2002.
  • The Human Line. Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, 2007.


  • The Courage to Heal: A guide for women survivors of child sexual abuse (with Laura Davis). New York: Harper & Row, 1988, 1994; London: Cedar, 1996; 20th anniversary edition, New York: Collins, 2008.
  • Beginning to Heal: A first book for men and women who were sexually abused as children (with Laura Davis). HarperCollins 1993; New York: Quill, 2003.
  • Free Your Mind: The book for gay, lesbian and bisexual youth — and their allies (with Kate Kaufman). New York: Harper Perennial, 1996.


  • I Like You to Make Jokes with Me, but I Don’t Want You to Touch Me. Chaepel Hill, NC: Lollipop Power, 1981; Durham, NC: Lollipop Power / Carolina Wren Press, 1993.


  • No More Masks! An Anthology of Poems by Women (edited with Florence Howe). Garden City, NY: Anchor, 1973.
  • I Never Told Anyone: Writings by women survivors of child sexual abuse (edited with Louise Thornton and others). New York: Harper & Row, 1983; New York: Harper Perennial, 1991.

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[6]

See alsoEdit

Ellen Bass If You Knew

Ellen Bass If You Knew

Ellen Bass Don't Expect Applause

Ellen Bass Don't Expect Applause


External linksEdit

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