She meant so much to so many. Through Ellen I learned that poetry is for everyone. My times with her at Green Lake were precious and won't be forgotten. When I see a gossamer dragonfly I will think of Ellen and smile.
I first really met Ellen when picked my poem for first place in a Barnes & Noble poetry contest over a decade ago. I have heard from others that this is how they also got to know Ellen as well. In the years after our first meeting, Ellen taught me lessons about grace and healing pain through writing. Every interaction with Ellen was a cherished one and you could not escape into artificial conversation as you looked into her deep and knowing eyes. She was one of the few truly authentic people I have ever known. She truly was a light force on this earth and I miss her.
When I listened to her poems it gave me the courage to start my own.
Ellen shared her powerful spiritual and creative energy and I am grateful and honored to have sat down to lunch with her and participated in her teachings. On this past Tuesday morning, while riding to work I had very clear recollections and musings of her life. Later that day we learned the had made her transition. I took this as only one of many examples of her spiritual connection and her ability to communicate and reach out to others. You are still with us dear Ellen!
I don't know how anyone couldn't love Ellen Kort.
So many who knew her counted her as a confidante, a sounding board, a muse. She made those connections with ease, without trying to impress or being the loudest or trying to be the center of attention.
Ellen Kort lived a genuine, authentic, honest, amazing life.
For a long time, we had breakfast every so often, usually at the Queen Bee, on E. College Avenue. We swapped stories, updated each other on family stuff, compared notes on our professional lives.
She told me a joke every time. Some were innocent. Some didn't reach that level.
She urged me to write a book. It's been started.
She knew her audience.
She knew how to reach the people within the sound of her voice, or the people who were holding her words in front of them. She could make us smile, or wipe tears off our cheeks. It was seldom in-between.
She could make us remember the silliest of our decisions or the gravest of our worries, and she could move us forward.
She got that. And she got us.
Among the things she loved most, I think, was making us laugh. From what I could see, she was unafraid and undaunted in that mission.
Yes, Ellen not only had the soul of a writer, she WAS the soul of a writer. Willing to tell us truths we don't always want to confront. Helping us understand that who people are in person aren't always who they are inside their head. Challenging us to consider bigger pictures, and smaller pictures.
And other pictures that you'd never seen, or wanted to see.
I loved her for that.
But there were other times √¢‚Ç¨‚Äù when Ellen was just the smartest, wittiest person in a very big room √¢‚Ç¨‚Äù that she made me giggle or howl in a very loud, very obvious way.
Here's one. It's an Ellen poem called "The Stream of Life":
To be great, art has to point somewhere.√¢‚Ç¨‚ÄùAnne Lamott
Point and shoot is what I told my sons
when they were little Lift the lid
and they did circling it in rhythmic yellow
One floated a toy plastic boat in the toilet ocean
a perfect aim could make it spin One tried
writing his name on the wall stopping
and starting in a valiant attempt to dot the I
I caught them peeing yellow rivers in their sandbox
watering my flowers the oak tree in the backyard
My Uncle Pete said some of the best conversations
he ever had some of the best business deals
he ever made took place while standing in front
of a urinal He liked the simple sense of truth
the zipping up the closure the handshake
I dressed as a man once for a Halloween party
Trench coat hat and shoes from Goodwill
a Richard Nixon mask and one cut-off leg of pantyhose
stuffed and sewed to the front of a pair of trousers
After the party we went to a bar and my friends
dared me to go into the men√¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢s restroom I took the dare
I pictured all the men I√¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢ve ever known standing
in front of those urinals Mr. Success and his perfect aim
full stream ahead The jokester who talks non-stop
I stayed long enough to read the carefully printed sign
above the row of urinals
"Please do not splash
The guy next to you might be barefoot"
√¢‚Ç¨‚ÄùEllen Kort, Appleton, WI
Love you, Ellen. Thanks for all that you gave, and all you meant, to all of us..