She attended Goucher College, where she graduated magna cum laude in 1968 with her bachelor’s degree. She pursued a master’s degree at Boston University and graduated in 1970. From 1970—1974, Bass worked as an administrator at Project Place, a social service center in Boston . She currently is teaching in the low residency MFA program at Pacific University in Oregon and has been teaching Writing About Our Lives workshops since 1974 in Santa Cruz, California .
Her poems have appeared in hundreds of journals and anthologies, including The Atlantic Monthly, Ms., The American Poetry Review, The Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, and Field.
Her nonfiction books include I Never Told Anyone, Free Your Mind, and The Courage to Heal, which has sold over a million copies and has been translated into twelve languages.
She lives in Santa Cruz, California, where she has taught poetry and creative writing since 1974.
She was awarded the Elliston Book Award for Poetry from the University of Cincinnati, Nimrod/Hardman’s Pablo Neruda Prize, The Missouri Review’s Larry Levis Award, the Greensboro Poetry Prize, the New Letters Poetry Prize, the Chautauqua Poetry Prize, a Pushcart Prize, and a fellowship from the California Arts Council.
The Human Line (Copper Canyon Press, 2007) was named a Notable Book of 2007 by the San Francisco Chronicle and Mules of Love (BOA Editions, 2002) won the 2002 Lambda Literary Award for Poetry.