Ellen Bass


Ellen Bass’s most recent collection, Indigo, was published by Copper Canyon Press in 2020. Her other poetry books include Like a Beggar, 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. Source

Ode to Fat

Tonight, as you undress, I watch your wondrous

flesh that’s swelled again, the way a river swells

when the ice relents. Sweet relief

just to regard the sheaves of your hips,

your boundless breasts and marshy belly.

I adore the acreage

of your thighs and praise the promising

planets of your ass.

Oh, you were lean that terrifying year

you were unraveling, as though you were returning

to the slender scrap of a girl I fell in love with.

But your skin was vacant, a ripped sack,

sugar spilling out and your bones insistent.

Oh, praise the loyalty of the body

that labors to rebuild its palatial realm.

Bless butter. Bless brie.

Sanctify schmaltz. And cream and cashews.

Stoke the furnace

of the stomach and load the vessels. Darling,

drench yourself in opulent oil,

the lamp of your body glowing. May you always

flourish enormous and sumptuous,

be marbled with fat, a great vault that

I can enter, the cathedral where I pray.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:


Body & Body Image


Joy & Praise

Love & Relationships


Literary Devices:


the repetition of the same letter or sound at the beginning of words appearing in succession


a comparison between two unrelated things through a shared characteristic


a lyric poem in the form of an address to a particular subject, often elevated in style or manner and written in varied or irregular meter