Mules of Love: Poems


Ellen Bass, 2002

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Balancing 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. Her poem “Insomnia” concludes: “may something/ comfort you–a mockingbird, a breeze, rain/ on the roof, Chopin’s Nocturnes, the thought/ of your child’s birth, a kiss,/ or even me–in my chilly kitchen/ with my coat on–thinking of you.”

Praise for Ellen Bass

“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

“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

About Ellen Bass

Ellen Bass is the author of three books of poetry. Her collection Mules of Love (BOA, 2002) won the Lambda Literary Award. Among her other awards are a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Elliston Book Award for Poetry from the University of Cincinnati, Nimrod/Hardman’s Pablo Neruda Prize, the Missouri Review’s Larry Levis Award, a fellowship from the California Arts Council, and two Pushcart Prizes. Bass currently teaches in the low-residency MFA program at Pacific University. For more information about Ellen Bass, visit

Additional information

Weight5.5 oz
Dimensions6.0 × .3 × 9.0 in

Publication Date

April 1, 2002

Page Count

96 pages