Ellie Altman’s poems have appeared most recently in Gyroscope Review, The Shore, and The Broad River Review. Her first chapbook, Within Walking Distance, was released in early 2023 and she is currently seeking publication for a second chapbook, Thin as Air. A finalist for ESWA’s 2021 Crossroads Writing Contest, Altman has attended workshops taught by Barbara Crooker, Meredith Davies Hadaway, Ishion Hutchinson, Nancy Mitchell, and Sue Ellen Thompson, among others.

She began writing poetry in 2014, after retiring as director of Adkins Arboretum. She lives on Maryland’s Eastern Shore with her husband Richard and her beloved Viszla pup Lucy.

author photo by Kris Kelley

Working at Home: Blog

Through the Windshield

September arrives with peak weather of cooler, clearer days and I am feeling urgency to tackle—it being fall, the season for football—yet not literally tackle a pigskin leather sphere with knees and shins slamming into the sod and dirt, but to tackle my self-imposed deadline for this short blog post to circulate into the stratosphere…

Procrastination Reframed

By pushing your dreams further down the road, yet again, are you truly procrastinating? If this concept has been plaguing your life, then I have a gift for you. The word “procrastination” cannot define a truth or be the guide that your behavior actually represents, unless drill-sergeant-berating fosters your growth, creativity, curiosity, and an adventuresome…

The Fork in the Road of Emotions

In October last year, I began to see Brené Brown’s promos for her new book, The Atlas of the Heart, which was just published on November 1. This romp through the spectrum of feeling holds no appeal for me in its promise to dive into all 87 human emotions. Absolutely terrifying. Do we even need…

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Poetry in Progress

Thin as Air, by Ellie Altman. (chapbook manuscript)

In Thin as Air, the poet confronts her underlying fear that, one day, she will become so slender and spare, take up so little space, that she might just disappear. These poems deal with the emotional complexities around body image, aging, eating habits, and womanhood. But there is joy here in the idea of smallness too—the small moments and little things that make each day worth the trouble of dancing through. On the underside of every struggle, every questioning, is the soft, persistent glow of hope as these poems embrace twilight as the perfect time for rebirth—her slow unraveling and shrinking making way for a metamorphosis.



Within Walking Distance (chapbook), with illustrations by Emily Kalwaitis. Released January 31, 2023. ORDER HERE

This chapbook manuscript examines the intricacies of small-town living from the perspective of a poet and her faithful dog. The poems grapple with an aging woman’s sense of belonging in her environment, as she oscillates between feeling at home and feeling like an outsider. The themes are compelling for their familiarity as common occurrences in every neighborhood—aging at home, encounters at the dog park, conversations over coffee, and welcoming the change of seasons. Within Walking Distance is an artistic collaboration between the poet and a local visual artist, both of whom live in the same small town. Through pairings of poem and painting, this chapbook manuscript captures a vivid sense of place with equal parts sincerity and irony, foreboding and wonder.


“After Dark,” forthcoming in The Keeping Room, Minerva Rising Press (2023).

“How I Became a Stewing Chicken,” Gyroscope Review, Issue 21-4 Fall Crone Power (2021).

“Inventory,” The Shore Poetry (Fall, 2021).

“How to Peel an Egg,” The Broad River Review, 50th Anniversary Issue (2018).


Ellie is available for readings! To book her, send a message via the contact page.

July 29, 2021

Eastern Shore Writer’s Association’s Crossroads Writing Contest, Finalists Reading. Finalist poem: “After Dark.”

April 2019

Chestertown RiverArts, Annual Environmental Art Exhibit, Finalist, Poetry Reading.

April 2019

The Book Plate Bookstore, Chestertown, MD, Poetry Reading.

April 2018

Chestertown RiverArts, Annual Environmental Art Exhibit, Finalist, Poetry Reading.

Creatives & Collaborators

Naomi Dalglish and Michael Hunt are Bandana Pottery. Of all the artist I support by collecting their work, Naomi and Michael’s work is my largest collection. Their work encapsulates the best of traditional, primitive, contemporary, whimsy and practical where heaven and heart meet. Bandana Pottery is located in Western North Carolina, a stone throw from Penland School of Crafts.

Artist Evie Baskin paints (pastels, oils, mixed-media, and silverpoint) stunning portraits of children and adults, as well as beloved pets. Her work evokes emotion, contemplation, and strength not limited by the two-dimensions of her medium. Her landscape paintings will transport you to natural areas near and far.

Chestertown is located on the Chester River, a major tributary of the Chesapeake Bay, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Art, theatre, music, literary arts, shopping, and dining fill this Colonial town that is home to America’s oldest college, Washington College, chartered in 1782. It is where Ellie’s lives and the inspiration of her favorite theme, small town life.

My house’s walls are graced with two of Kelly’s abstract oils. The colors, the layers, the texture, and the strokes are pure energy ready to jump from this 2-D work. They will make you want to take a two-punch into the world to standup and shout your truth. I love Kelly.

Living in Cockeyville, MD, north of Baltimore, Julia explores the natural areas that abound in Northern Maryland to practice her stunning plein air painting depicting meadows, wetlands, and woodlands in all seasons. I have collected her work for two decades and remain as awed by their beauty today as I was when they first captivated me.

Ellie’s major philanthropic gifts are made annually to Penland School of Crafts and Key West Literary Seminar.

Dreams, fairytales and childhood memories greatly influence my images, which often evolve from an impression left by a dream or suddenly recalled early experience.  Emily’s interest in fairytales comes mostly from deeply connecting to them as a child, especially those in which the main character is female who, faced with limitations, prevails because of her purity and endurance.  Kiki Smith, Joseph Cornell and Virginia Woolf have inspired Emily. Emily is the illustrator for Ellie’s first chapbook, Within Walking Distance.

Key West Literary Seminar, established in 1983, promotes the understanding and discussion of important literary works and their authors; recognizes and supports new voices in literature; and preserves and promote Key West’s literary heritage. Key West has long been the home of many prominent American writers.

Among other things, Lindsay is a poet, editor, writing coach, letterpress printer, and graphic designer. She loves horror movies, fairy tales, and all the fabulous names for wildflowers. Contact her for freelance services, including: poetry coaching & consultationsbroadsides, & graphic design for poets (& writers). Lindsay is the author of the poetry collection Catechesis: a postpastoral (The University of Utah Press, 2019), winner of the Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Prize, judged by Kimiko Hahn. She is also the author of two chapbooks, Blackbird Whitetail Redhand (Porkbelly Press, 2018) and Imago (dancing girl press, 2014), and the winner of the 2015 Fairy Tale Review Poetry Contest. Lindsay has been coaching, editing, designing, and guiding Ellie into and through her late-in-life poetry gig.

Shari is on a crusade. I don’t know a more principled and generous person. She is a former Maryland Secretary of the Environment, who has gone from policy to all-hands-on-deck advocacy for growing native plants to restore habitat for wildlife and our overall health. She is spreading stunning beauty throughout Maryland by as a indefatigable educator and resource for homeowners and gardeners with her smart weekly blog. She is an authority you can trust. Click HERE to read Shari’s blog about Ellie’s garden.

Kris Kelley is an amazing Chestertown-based photographer who is responsible for all the fantastic new author photos on this website! She is also the Arts Education Coordinator at RiverArts.