Photo Credit: Alan Rhinesmith

Ellen Sazzman

b. 1951

Current City, State, Country

Rockville, Maryland, USA

Birth City, State, Country

Cleveland, Ohio, USA


Ellen Sazzman is a Pushcart-nominated poet whose work has been recently published in Peregrine, Delmarva Review, Another Chicago Magazine, PANK, Ekphrastic Review, Women’s Studies Quarterly, Sow’s Ear, Lilith, Moment, Beltway Quarterly, Connecticut River Review, Common Ground, Comstock Review, Miramar, and CALYX, among others. Her poetry collection, The Shomer (Finishing Line Press 2021) was selected as a finalist for the 2020 Blue Lynx Prize and a semifinalist for the 2020 Elixir Antivenom Award and the 2019 Codhill Press Poetry Award.

Her poem “Learning to Swim” is a 2023 Pushcart nominee. She was awarded first place in the 2022 Dancing Poetry Festival, was a finalist in the 2022 Ekphrastic Review Fifty Shades of Blue contest, received an honorable mention in the 2019 Ginsberg poetry contest, was shortlisted for the 2018 O’Donoghue Prize, was awarded first place in Poetica’s 2016 Rosenberg competition, was a first place winner in the 2016 Moving Words competition, won the Northern Virginia Review’s 2012 Outstanding poetry award, was a 2012 Pushcart nominee, and was a 2010 Split This Rock Poetry contest finalist.

Her work has also been included in several anthologies including Proposing on the Brooklyn Bridge (Grayson Books 2003), Covenant of the Generations (Women of Reform Judaism 2013), Such Friends As These (2019), Mizmor Anthology (Poetica Publishing 2020), Never Forgotten (North Sea Poetry Scene Press 2020), and Tiferet Spiritual Poetry Anthology (Tiferet Press 2022), Fifty Years of The Moose (2022). Ellen Sazzman has lived in Washington, D.C. and Montgomery County, Maryland, for the last forty years where she raised her family and practiced law for the federal government.

What is the relationship between Judaism and/or Jewish culture and your poetry?

I did not set out or plan to become a Jewish poet. However, images from my Jewish upbringing, family stories I have been told, and history I have studied find their way into my poems. My full length poetry collection The Shomer evolved around the concept of witnessing. In Jewish tradition, the Shomer serves in the role of watchman charged with safeguarding the body of the deceased before burial and guiding the spirit on its journey. More generally the term Shomer describes a guardian who acts as a witness and protects those who can no longer protect themselves. Many of my poems including those in The Shomer attempt to explore the vigil we all keep as witnesses to our own lives and the lives of others, and to expand upon the stories we share to safeguard love, hope, history, and a belief in the spirit’s power to heal.

Published Works

The Shomer (Finishing Line Press, 2021)

Links to Sample Works

Video Reading

Current Title

Writer and recovering lawyer


University of Chicago, A.B., 1973; Degree with Honors
University of California at Berkeley, J.D., Boalt Hall School of Law, 1976
Writing Workshops, 1996 –2022, David Baker, Sandra Beasley, Frank Bidart, Michelle Brafman, Susan Coll, Geraldine Connolly, Moira Egan, Rod Jellema, David Keplinger, David Kirby, Yusef Komunyakaa, Sally Wen Mao, Faye Moskowitz, Gregory Orr, Stanley Plumly, Rose Solari, Henry Taylor, Monica Youn

Subject Matter