Jim Ellis

“I’ve loved, studied, and written poetry most of my life.  I really don’t know how that happened.  I do know it’s helped keep me afloat.

I love tracing the amazing connections and parallels between poets of radically different eras and societies.  I love poetry because it doesn’t recognize borders.  It’s as uncategorizable as humanity itself, yet flows from the most elemental human emotions and experiences – grief, anger, desire, despair, love, awe, hope, home, gratitude, remorse.  Lasting poetry transcends styles, schools, fads, cultures, and eras.  It grieves me that so many people are scared of poetry, and as I see it that’s for two reasons:  first, a few poets do seem to enjoy intimidating the reader, and second, poetry is sometimes taught by those who don’t really love it.

I believe we’re in the midst of an unprecedented international blossoming of poetry.  Thank god for all the wonderful translators today who allow us to widen our horizons!  Getting to know great poets from around the world is a sublime privilege – it’s like joining an unbroken, unpredictable, radically honest conversation about what it means to be alive today.

Maybe such a positive thought seems quaint, since hatred of The Other is so in vogue across the planet at the moment.  The powerful have gotten really clever at teaching people to unknow and eventually despise each other.  Poetry is a science of empathy.  We need it now more than ever.”