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Mules of Love 2016-10-26T19:07:55+00:00

Mules of LoveBalancing heart-intelligent intimacy and surprising humor, the poems in Ellen Bass’s Mules of Love illuminate the essential dynamics of our lives: family, community, sexual love, joy, loss, religion and death. The poems also explore the darker aspects of humanity—personal, cultural, historical and environmental violence—all of which are handled with compassion and grace. Bass’s poetic gift is her ability to commiserate with others afflicted by similar hungers and grief.

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In Praise of the Book

“The sudden intimacy of these poems of Ellen Bass will hold you to the page. She knows an awful lot and is ready to tell it all. Her poems will quicken the pulse, and as you read you will become anxious to discover more and more, but she can only tell you so much, one good line at a time, and that is more than enough.” —Billy Collins

“Reading Mules of Love gave me great joy. I found the poems striking, full, complete, and beautifully crafted. Ellen Bass is a poet writing about quintessential beauty, and these poems are swollen with it in the same way she describes her heart: ‘like a suitcase you need to sit on to close’. These radiant poems emerge from her Santa Cruz garden of life. Bass writes with a Dionysian ecstasy, yet infuses it with the calm energy of a gardener’s earthy hands.” —Diane Wakoski

“Mules of Love holds a special place on my bookshelf. It is a book I return to regularly when I need to be calmed or soothed because it is an openhearted volume of confessional, intimate work that continues to reward my effort. The more the poems reveal, the more endearing they become, and the more I read them, the richer they get.” —Isiah Vianese, Rattle

“Ellen Bass’s voice is direct and unambiguous. These are intimate, confessional poems, yet in almost every instance they go beyond the specific details to strike a universal chord. A highly readable and touching book.” —Maxine Kumin

“Ellen Bass writes of ordinary life with a fierce and loving passion. Her honesty, her insights, and her mastery of language, particularly metaphor, make this book compelling reading.”—Linda Pastan

“Ellen Bass sees into the life of things with a quiet power, creating a poetry that goes straight to the heart. Bass is a poet of the elemental, always struggling to manage the science and biology of life with the mysteries of religion, philosophy and consciousness. In doing so, she helps us to appreciate the small miracles of this common life that we often take for granted.  It’s as if she is so startled to be alive, she can’t help asking every moment to stop and let her examine it, ask it a question. In this age of violence and disconnection, as we spend more and more time looking for a technological fix, this kind of poetry is a necessary reminder of who we are, why we’re here and where we are going, each day bountiful, spacious, precious. It is a poetry that opens our eyes so that we see our lives as a continuum of such days. Ellen Bass has created a woman who stands on the edge of her life, looking for the moment that might change us all.” —Dorianne Laux

“With Mules of Love, Bass has returned to her poetic roots, and we as readers are much richer for it. It has become something of a cliché to say that a poet mixes the ordinary with the extraordinary, but Bass does just that—in extraordinary ways. . . . Bass takes all of it, the guts and glory of life, and transforms her experiences into remarkable poetry that is beautifully written, easy to understand, and complex in meaning and implication. . . . She is one of the most honest poets I have ever read and her poems are incredibly intimate. . . . I will turn to the poems in Mules of Love over and over again, for their beauty, comfort, wisdom and power.” —Lesléa Newman, Windy City Times