Traverse City Record-Eagle

March 26, 2012

Terry Wooten: Max Ellison, Rascal Poet

By Terry Wooten, Poet Bard

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Max Ellison has cancelled

all speaking engagements.

The creator called his bluff"¦He had a pair of deuces

against a full house.

These were the last lines of poetry Max Ellison wrote. The blank was filled in May 2, 1985. The headline of The Detroit Free Press read, "Poet took His Art to the People." At the top of the front page of The Record- Eagle, Loraine Anderson wrote the story of her good friend's death, and his obituary. She called him The Rascal Poet.

Last week, March 21, Max would have turned 98 years old. It doesn't seem possible that he's been away 27 years.

The Rascal Poet had a serious side. He served two years with the Michigan Seventh Cavalry Division in the South Pacific, and was wounded twice. Stars and Stripes did a tribute to Ellison after his death. Two of his best poems are for his two nephews that were killed in Vietnam.

Max blazed a trail by taking his poetry and stories into schools. He also recited at Gov. Milliken's inauguration. Meeting Max in 1980 and hearing him recite his works by memory was an awakening for me. I've been memorizing poems and saying them in schools ever since.

Max Ellison is the Godfather of Stone Circle, and his poetry is spoken there often. Below are some rascal prose poems I wrote using Max's words during the last year of his life.

Happy birthday, Max! Thanks again.

Poet Bard Terry Wooten has been performing and conducting writing workshops in schools for 28 years. He is the creator of Stone Circle. Learn more about him at