“Poetry is the most intimate of all writing. I want to speak first from me to myself and then from me to you.” ~ Ellen Bass

Ellen Bass

Our Keynote Speaker for the AWA Professional Development and Writing Retreat 2023


We’re delighted that Ellen Bass, celebrated American poet and author of The Courage to Heal, has agreed to be our keynote speaker for this year’s conference.  The title of her address is “Transforming Trauma through Art”.

Ellen will be joining us via zoom, and all attendees (in-person and online) will have the opportunity to attend her talk and the question and answer session.

Please read on to learn more about Ellen and her poetry, workshops, and her groundbreaking book, The Courage to Heal, co-authored with Laura Davis.



Ellen’s book list includes nine collections of poetry, including the recent Indigo (2020), Like a Beggar (2014), The Human Line (2007), and Mules of Love (2002), which won The Lambda Literary Award.

Her nonfiction includes The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse (1988, 2008), which sold over a million copies and was translated into twelve languages.

She is also a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, teaches at Pacific University, and hosts practical and inspiring Living Room Craft TalksThese craft talk sessions are also available now as recorded workshops of six weeks each.

One can use a long line of adjectives to describe Ellen’s writing and teaching (direct, heartfelt, invigorating, funny, thoughtful, compassionate, insightful). The New York Times once remarked her writing “pulses with sex, humor and compassion.”

Together we’ll discuss, imagine, and explore how our writing can heal both the individual and the bigger world.

We are delighted to welcome Ellen Bass to this year’s writing retreat – and we’re also so excited to welcome you!

If you are not an AWA Affiliate and therefore not attending the conference in person or online, you can still REGISTER HERE FOR JUST THE KEYNOTE TALK by Ellen. 

“What would people look like / if we could see them as they are,

soaked in honey, stung and swollen, / reckless, pinned against time?.” ~ Ellen Bass