Olivia Simpson Ellis: The Work at Hand: Selected Poems

Olivia Simpson Ellis reads from her selected poems in The Work at Hand.

Set in the village of Academy, California, the author's birthplace, readers find themselves "in the center of a pioneer family whose long walk across the Santa Fe Trail took them in the 1800s to a place they named after the school they built, The Academy, known throughout California as an exceptional place to learn, where classical poetry was the foundation for education."

OLIVIA SIMPSON ELLIS was born and raised on a large ranch in the San Joaquin Valley and began formal studies in poetry writing workshops in 1960 at California State University in Fresno with Peter Everwine, Philip Levine and Robert Mezey, continued writing as a post doc at Western Reserve in Ohio translating Russian, Spanish and French poets. Her Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate University was under the direction of poet Richard Barnes and screenwriter Barry Morrow (Rain Man). She taught creative writing at Pomona College, founded the Claremont Public Library Poetry Series, published an anthology of Children's Peace Poems Blessed Are They Who Work for Peace presented to Nane Lagergren, wife of Kofi Annan at the Centennial Hague Peace Conference in May, 1999, and sent to 184 member states of the United Nations, receiving citations from Ambassador Richard Holbrooke for "promoting peace throughout the world, especially through the work of young people who offer to all of us hope for the future." Partnering with David Rust, CNN photographer for Christiane Amanpour, and the Children's Embassy in Sarajevo, Ellis facilitated mass mailings of pen pal letters to and from the war torn children locked in basements. After creating a multi-lingual publishing house for immigrant children from around the world to provide a bridge for their families to a new world, she gave workshops at schools throughout Southern California and in Washington D.C. and Prague's illustrious Language School, demonstrating how multilingual books authored by children dictating their stories created almost instant literacy in both English and their Mother Tongue.
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