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January 2016

A New Year - New Opportunities


Lewis 1 16

This first month of the new year has been filled with new projects and new opportunities. During the annual writers' retreat I wrote a new poem, two chapters in a new book, a new essay that explores why Meriwether Lewis deserves another look, and an article that is next month's cover story for Peoria Magazines' iBi. I am three steps closer to publishing my long-awaited series of History…In Person biographies AND there are three new projects in the works I cannot tell you about just yet… but I hope to have big news for the next newsletter! So watch these pages, and please forward or share the poetry and articles with a friend!




A Story: Seven Sacred Stories of the Peoria Falcon 


The Peoria Falcon is an ancient copper plate used as an ornament, possibly as armament, and worn by a Native American dancer in the Illinois River Valley more than a thousand years ago.Every historic artifact tells stories. It holds the stories of the earth, the raw materials from which it was made. It holds the stories of the culture and the craftsman, the people who made it and how it was made. It tells a story of purpose, how it was used. Every historic artifact holds within it the clues of provenance, where it went and how it got there. This copper falcon is the key to seven sacred stories, stories of geology, the earth’s history, plate tectonics and glaciations. It tells the stories of the first people of the Illinois River, a story of ancient trade routes, the story of the river itself. This beautiful bird is a glimpse into the culture, their arts, religious beliefs and the astounding craftsmanship of the First Nations. It tells the story of the coming of the European, America’s migration west and early economic development. It holds within it the story of museum politics and the rebirth of a culture.  (Read more)


Within the long list of men and women who have had the courage to step off the map and into unknown worlds Meriwether Lewis is arguably one of the most important yet least appreciated. Beyond a brief blip of national attention during the bicentennial of the Corps of Discovery there has been little public discussion except the all too frequent scholarly debates that still troll the ideas of manifest destiny and cultural imperialism. Meriwether Lewis deserves our attention. His troubled, tragic, yet heroic and epic life deserves another look!  (Read more)

1280px Lewis and Clark Expidition Map copy


A Poem: An Early Morning Vignette in Seven Haiku*

awaken to the sound

of the snow plow, 

followed by the school bus

childish dream dashed

two inches of snow

enough to cover autumn’s debris

everything sparkles

on this crystalline morning

blue sky, bright sun,

snow sparkles appear mid-air

early morning walk 

to the office, subzero, a crow

and chickadee accompany me

smudge of a feather

on the frozen window pane

speaks of wounds unspeakable

ice on the window

sun rising casts a glare

a wintery rainbow

swing laptop open

workday must begin, first

wipe the mist from the screen  

Brian “Fox” Ellis


*Haiku Renga, linked verse, is a traditional Japanese form, a parlor game, in which party guests take turns making up spontaneous poetry using an image from the participant who went before them. Each haiku needs to stand on its own, but relate to the one before it. If done well, it often builds a spontaneous scene or story, a small vignette within several haiku.

As you gear up for the rest of the year and plan events for your students, please allow your local storyteller and author to help add a healthy dose of enthusiasm to learning and teaching:

If you would like to create a family literacy night that is inspiring and builds positive relationships within the community, then give me a call. We can work together to focus on family stories and family history OR create a specially themed math literacy or science literacy night.

With testing just around the bend, storytelling is a special treat after the last test is taken. In what might appear to be an exciting distraction, I can put together a performance that reinforces your school improvement goals and introduces new curriculum that the teachers will be covering.  (Read more)




Touring with Several Souls



In the next few weeks I will be performing in Atlanta, GA, Greenville, SC, and Denver CO as Audubon, Lewis and Darwin. Please visit my calendar to see when I might be coming to a town near you or drop me an e-mail to invite me to your hometown!


January 29, 2016

Join Fox as he performs with live birds of prey at the Illinois Waterway Visitor's Center across from Starved Rock as part of one of the largest and oldest eagle watching festivals in Illinois. With programs at 10:00, 1:00 and 3:00 both Saturday and Sunday. Sponsored by Illinois Audubon, Illinois Raptor Center, Ameren Illinois, Starved Rock Audubon, Starved Rock Lodge and US Army Corps of Engineers. Click here for a full schedule of events!

February 02, 2016

Join Fox for a Lunch and Art Program as he performs as John James Audubon at The Booth Museum of Western Art. The program begins at 12:15 and is free with a paid museum entrance.

February 05, 2016

Fox will present three performaces as Meriwether Lewis to help kick-off The Greenville Chautauqua Winter series with programs Friday night at 7:30, Saturday and SUnday at 2:00.

February 10, 2016

Fox will perform as Darwin at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.  Performances are at 6:00 and 8:00 pm.

February 18, 2016

Fox will perform "William Herndon Speaks of Lincoln the Lawyer" in Springfield, IL.