Isaiah Vianese of Rattle praises Ellen Bass' Mules of Love (BOA, 2002), calling it a "collection about love, family, and empathy told in (mostly) first-person narratives. Bass' voice in these poems is warm and kind, as she considers how to be caring and gentle." Vianese admittedly finds "comfort" in Bass' honesty, especially in her ties to love, sex, and religion. "Many of the poet's pieces focus on sex ... she sometimes uses the erotic as a way to understand larger questions about religion, love, and mortality. This use of sex as a lens for viewing grand subjects is best seen in 'God and the G-Spot,' during which she ties the supernatural, romantic, and erotic... This celebration is important because it is an example of a contemporary woman in her fifties owning and extolling the beauty of the aging female body and being sexually empowered—something that still occurs too rarely." Also impressive, according to the review, is Bass' ability to delve deeply into her own sexuality and same sex relationships. The poems "reveal the healthy and loving sexual relationships gay couples can have ... Though it may not be en vogue for poems to proffer hope so transparently these days, this optimism can be of great value to readers. It certainly was to me." "Mules of Love holds a special place on my bookshelf," says Vianese. "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." To purchase your own copy of Mules of Love, visit the BOA Bookstore. Click here to read the entire Rattle review.
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