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About the Author
Elana Bell is a poet, sound practitioner, and sacred creative. Her debut poetry collection, Eyes, Stones (Louisiana State University Press 2012), was selected by Fanny Howe as winner of the 2011 Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets. Her writing has appeared in Harvard Review, Massachusetts Review, AGNI, Barrow Street, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of grants and fellowships from the Jerome Foundation, the Edward Albee Foundation, the Brooklyn Arts Council, the AROHO Foundation, and the Drisha Institute. She was a finalist for the inaugural Freedom Plow Award for Poetry & Activism from Split This Rock, an award that recognizes and honors a poet who is doing innovative and transformative work at the intersection of poetry and social change.
Elana leads creative writing workshops for women, seniors, educators and youths in Israel and Palestine, and throughout the five boroughs of New York City. She has taught her acclaimed Writing Toward Peace curriculum internationally with Seeds of Peace, the Tent of Nations, and Encounter, offering transformative creative writing workshops to support dialogue and peacebuilding for educators and community members from regions in conflict. Elana currently teaches poetry to actors at The Juilliard School, and sings with the Resistance Revival Chorus, a group of women activists and musicians committed to bringing joy and song to the resistance movement. She lives with her husband and son in Brooklyn.
"Mother Country is in large part about the body. The body, like a country, holds so much, and all at once. So much doubt, joy, pleasure, power, uncertainty, pain, family, beloveds, the individual, the collective. There is life; there is loss; there is miracle. The collective has power to sustain the individual. The individual also harness their own power."
"Mother Country is a breathtaking and mythical account of the complex, everyday, and porous realms of death and birth. With lyrical, imagistic intelligence and unwavering precision, Bell writes the deaths of her unborn children, her grandmother, versions of herself and of her mother. The result is a steadfast and achingly clear record of a woman's mother-route, which, among other things, traces the shape of her own mother's life and illness. She writes: 'Through the dark I feel my mother's wild eye.' And: 'My mother was a dead doll I held her / hand in the land of the dead / and did not turn away...' Gravid with loss, Bell's is a haunting, vital, songful work, and it does not turn away."
--Aracelis Girmay, author of Kingdom Animalia, finalist for the National Book Critic's Circle Award
"Mother Country provides us passage through the many portals of what it means to be, alternately, dependent upon or responsible for another's nurture. And like the experience itself, these poems are both comforting and terrifying. Elana Bell has put to language an experience so intrinsic to its moments, I did not know how it might be brought to life in a poem. One leaves these poems changed, even healed, by their beauty and deep humanity. This book is not just for mothers. It's for everyone.
--Cate Marvin, author of Oracle and co-founder VIDA: Women in Literary Arts