Hi Ellyn,

Hi backatcha!


Tell us about your background.

As an incredibly shy kid growing up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I expressed myself through writing early in life. I scribbled stories about going to California and meeting Barry Manilow, I never imagined reading this work aloud.  I mean, I was too timid to order in restaurants or even to ask where the bathroom was.  My shyness, in part, stemmed from having a hyper-critical father (luckily my mother was loving and supportive), a proverbial dysfunctional family in general, and from enduring classmates’ criticism that I was “an unusual-looking girl.”


By Ellyn Maybe


I wanted to feel the music of your shoulders
Watch the tension of C.D. turn to 8 track
I read your nonfiction – if that’s not a crush, what is.

You live twenty years away from Richie Havens turning up at a café.
I watch the liner notes of your wrists like a fortune teller.
Jerome Robbins choreographs your neighborhood with a pale peony.

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s official.

The Nervous Breakdown’s Literary Experience will be taking place at The Echo on Saturday, April 10th, 2010.  Celebrating National Poetry Month.

Many thanks to our friends at Stories Bookstore in Echo Park for their help in making it all congeal.

The details:

Do You Fear Me?

By Ellyn Maybe


Do you fear me cause I wear
          a purple friendship bracelet?
Do you fear having me as a friend?
Are you afraid to introduce me
          to your grandparents?
The only perfect thing about me
          is my perfect lack of confidence.
Does that freak you out?
I’m fat.
How does that sit with you?
I wear political pins.
Does that bother you?
I’m a bookworm.
Does that depress you?
Are you terrified
          cause I’ve been bas mitzvahed?
Are you scared
          cause I think spiders are sacred?
I’m left handed.  ooooooooooooo  No comment.
Do you worry about me cause I’m a virgin
Cause I’m loud and sometimes embarrassing,
          are you wary of spending time with me?
I know where the feminist bookstores are
          in a whole bunch of states.
Does that make you tremble?
People think I’m younger
          and older than I am.
Does that reflect badly on you somehow?
I don’t always comb my hair.
Can you hear it coming?
Is it my ugliness or beauty that
          frightens you the most?
Are you afraid of me cause I’m human?


Hi, Ellyn.

Hi, me.

Who are some of your inspirations?

I love show tunes, Stephen Sondheim, Gershwin, Lerner and Loewe. There are so very many great ones! Irving Berlin, Kander and Ebb, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Rodgers and Hart, Cole Porter, Leonard Bernstein. I recently saw a great documentary on Johnny Mercer. I love Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Phil Ochs, Joni Mitchell, Dan Bern, Duke McVinnie. I also love film scores, Bernard Herrmann, Georges Delerue. I love film so very much, I went to film school in Prague for two years, amazing city. Some filmmakers I love include Billy Wilder, Francois Truffaut, Martin Scorsese, Stanley Kubrick, and Milos Forman.

When did you start writing?

When I was a little girl I wrote stories, being of low self-esteem; it was too fun so I stopped ’til I moved to NYC when I was 20 and the poems just arrived.  I haven’t stopped since.

Can you say something about your process?

Something tends to spark a poem and it gels quickly. It has been this way since I began whether the source of inspiration is a photograph, an event, work or love. I don’t edit much at all but sometimes things get tweaked, often though they are left alone. I’m grateful for the process as I think with imagery just letting it come when it’s ready seems to be working. I trust it and know that any period of my life might be more prolific or not but I am very exuberant about other artists and enjoy watching movies, listening to music, etc. These are very nourishing activities to me and I don’t feel pressure to write every day or anything like that.

How did you get your name?

When I first started reading I was extremely shy and didn’t know if I’d be up to reading when my name was called so after Ellyn I put in parentheses (Maybe I’ll read…) and it stuck. I also like how the y in Ellyn goes with the y in Maybe but that just is pure serendipity! 🙂

What are you up to now?

I recently completed a poetry/music CD, Rodeo for the Sheepish.  I have the most amazing collaborators, Harlan Steinberger and Tommy Jordan.  The feedback for the album has been stellar.  And we’re turning the CD into a movie, and hopefully a live show too.

If anyone out there has any ideas, as Tommy would say, we are delighted to hear them!

Thanks for your time, Ellyn.

Absolutely, my pleasure!