who wrote the dash poem

Who Wrote the Dash Poem?

The Dash, a poem about life and living for today, is a poem that was written by Linda Ellis in 1996. She had been writing poems since she was a child, but The Dash became Linda’s most well-known piece of work. This specific poem became famous after she sent a copy of the poem to a syndicated radio show based out of Atlanta. After being read on-air, the poem blew up in popularity, changing Linda’s life forever.

Linda was inspired to write this poem while working in corporate America. Looking around, she started to see how many people struggled to prioritize what was important in their lives. The bosses in her company spent far too much time worrying about inconsequential things. Linda was also moved by the wife of an employee who had recently found out she was dying. The employee sent a letter around to members of the company. In the letter, the woman reflected on her life and her regrets. These factors all ultimately lead to Linda writing her famous poem, The Dash.

Here is the poem:



by Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend. He referred to the dates on the tombstone from the beginning… to the end.

He noted that first came the date of birth and spoke of the following date with tears, but he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time they spent alive on earth and now only those who loved them know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own, the cars… the house… the cash. What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard; are there things you’d like to change? For you never know how much time is left that still can be rearranged.

To be less quick to anger and show appreciation more and love the people in our lives like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect and more often wear a smile… remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.

So when your eulogy is being read, with your life’s actions to rehash, would you be proud of the things they say about how you lived your dash?



After The Dash poem started gaining popularity, Linda knew that she needed to leave corporate America in hopes to continue touching lives with her poetry. The Dash poem has since been published hundreds of times and has affected millions of people. The poem serves as a reminder for each individual to make the most of their time on this earth, for we never know which day might be our last.

Linda Ellis partnered with Mac Anderson to co-author a book, The Dash: Making a Difference with Your Life. In this book, Mac Anderson adds nine simple truths about what each one of us can do to enrich our lives. The book is a beautiful read for everyone, from recent graduates as a source of inspiration to retirees who wish to reflect on the experiences they have had.

The Dash Poem is copyrighted material owned by Southwestern Inspire Kindness, Inc. (“Inspire Kindness”). Inspire Kindness is expanding the awareness of the poem and its message through partnerships and new products that embody the essence of The Dash. Now more than ever, our world needs more kindness, compassion, and people who are willing to make a difference, both big and small.

who wrote the dash poem

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