Ellen Bass’s poems might best be described as transcendental incidentalism. In Like a Beggar, her prose moseys along, skillfully detailing tightly framed shots, one right after another, and then “a boy on a bicycle rides by.” Hopalong happenstance.
She writes of Jewish habits, atheism, Lucretius, her son and daughter and ex-husband, and rolling naked down dunes in Death Valley with a same-sex lover: “the perfect cones of her breasts, dusted with grains of sand.”
Bass is sexy maternalism (is that redundant?), exposing herself with a nod to a natural sense of modesty. A Pushcart Prize and Pablo Neruda Prize winner, as well as the author of five acclaimed collections of poetry, she is fun to be around.
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