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Like a Beggar Paperback – March 25, 2014


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Like a Beggar + The Human Line + Mules of Love (American Poets Continuum)
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

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. In contemplation of slaughtered chickens, a fly, jellyfish, and the “thousand-pound heart” of the blue whale, Bass arrives at the truth of human carnality rooted in the extraordinary need and promise of the individual. Through Bass’ eyes, a pearly orchid is not unlike the milky thighs of a woman—“blood blooming through her veins”—and the thorax of the wasp “expanding and contracting” has the power to make us aware of our “own shallow breath.” In the exoskeleton of a wasp and in the earth that once fell “ever so slightly . . . toward the apple,” 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 end—following her musings on suicide and generosity, desire and repetition—it becomes lucidly clear that Bass is not only a poet but also a philosopher and a storyteller. --Briana Shemroske
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 70 pages
  • Publisher: Copper Canyon Press (March 25, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 155659464X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556594649
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #166,151 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

A pioneer in the field of healing from child sexual abuse, Ellen Bass currently teaches in the MFA program at Pacific University in Oregon. Her poetry books include Mules of Love and The Human Line.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By David Curry on April 12, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you have given up on contemporary American poetry as something you too often simply can't connect with, please consider taking up this non-alienated, non-perplexing, life-accepting-and-enhancing book of poems from Ellen Bass.

I have a friend who easily tires of things she's experienced "too many times" and actually uses expressions such as "the dread Mozart" and "the dread Beethoven." I wonder how she would respond to Bass's "Ode to Repetition," which I will happily type out here as stronger recommendation for the book than anything I might say:

ODE TO REPETITION

I like to take the same walk
down the wide expanse of Woodrow to the ocean,
and most days I turn left toward the lighthouse.
The sea is always different. Some days dreamy,
waves hardly waves, just a broad undulation
in no hurry to arrive. Other days the surf's drunk,
crashing into the cliffs like a car wreck.
And when I get home I like
the same dishes stacked in the same cupboards
and the unstacked and then stacked again.
And the rhododendron, spring after spring,
blossoming its pink ceremony.
I could dwell in the kingdom of Coltrane,
those rivers of breath through his horn,
as he forms each phrase of "Lush Life"
over and over until I die. Once I was afraid
of this, opening the curtains every morning
only to close them again each night.
You could despair in the fixed town of your own life.
But when I wake up to pee, I'm grateful
the toilet's in its usual place, the sink with its gift of water.
I look out at the street, the halos of lampposts
in the fog or the moon rinsing the parked cars.
Read more ›
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By LefthandedLeo on March 29, 2014
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I read a lot of contemporary poets, and these days Ellen Bass is the absolute tops. She writes with the sweetness and accessibility of a Billie Collins, combined with the power and profundity of an Adrienne Rich. Her words penetrate, and the rhythm of her language carries the reader with an assurance that is a delight to experience. It is impossible to read these poems without a deepening sense of the richness of life. Through her exquisite, often comic, observations of the fine details of daily experience she takes the reader -- sometimes gently, sometimes fiercely, but always vividly -- into the ground zero of life: love, mortality, and memory. If you read no other book of poetry this year, read this one. It is a true gem.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By NotAGreenFreak on April 9, 2014
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Ellen Bass writes accessible poems that read like like intimate stories -- never pretentious, always pulling the reader in with surprising twists and turns. I'm not one for random poetry, but Bass' writing is both provocative and comforting. Her sense of humor and irony are revealed in her work, as well as her humility. She also defies stereotypes -- a master writer and workshop leader, Bass isn't the type to stay holed away at her desk, even though her work is often achingly intimate. I agree with the reviewer who said she is more than a poet -- she's a philosopher in the best sense of the word.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Teddy Norris on May 19, 2014
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If you already know Ellen Bass's poetry, you'll love this collection. If you haven't made her acquaintance, you should treat yourself.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ms Muffintop on May 23, 2014
Format: Paperback
This woman can turn a phrase to curl my toes or make me spontaneously burst out laughing, even when I'm alone, reading to myself. Wow. I would call her a poet's poet, but you know what? That doesn't really do her justice. She's more like a "non-poet's poet." If you think you don't like poetry, if you think it's all like bad high school haiku, or Hallmark greeting card angst - then you've never known the delight of a contemporary word-smith. Read Ellen Bass, and you'll be smiling ear to ear. Namaste Ms Bass!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Crook on May 18, 2014
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I'm not a fan of poetry. But after attending one of Ellen's workshops, I decided to give it a try. As I read these poems, words seemed to sometimes almost blossom on the page. I smiled and cried reading "Ode to Repetition." I've become a fan.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rolland Vasin on May 23, 2014
Format: Paperback
Your older sister just came home in tears, sat on your bed, and between sobs and moans tells you a story about her adventure gone wrong that breaks your heart so that you cry along with her. You are a Marine Captain and are not prone to tears, yet there you are. That’s the power the artistry of Ellen’s poems in Like A Beggar contain. If your psychic defensive wall has at least one brick missing this book is for you.
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