Poet and teacher Ellen Bass grew up in New Jersey. She earned an MA in creative writing from Boston University, where she studied with Anne Sexton. Bass’s style is direct; she has noted, “I work to speak in a voice that is meaningful communication. Poetry is the most intimate of all writing. I want to speak from me to myself and then from me to you.” Bass’s collections of poetry include Mules of Love (2002), which won the Lambda Literary Award; The Human Line (2007), named a Notable Book by the San Francisco Chronicle; and Like a Beggar (2014). She helped edit the feminist poetry anthology No More Masks! An Anthology of Poems by Women (1973).
Bass has also written works of nonfiction, including, with Laura Davis, The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse (1988) and Beginning to Heal: A First Book for Men and Women Who Were Sexually Abused as Children (2003, revised edition 2008). With Kate Kaufman, she wrote Free Your Mind: The Book for Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Youth—and Their Allies (1996). Bass’s honors and awards include a Pushcart Prize, a Pablo Neruda Prize, a Larry Levis Reading Prize, and a New Letters Literary Prize. She is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, and she teaches in the MFA program at Pacific University. Bass lives in Santa Cruz, California.