BACK may be obtained from your local
bookstore, from on-line vendors such as Amazon
or Barnes&Noble, or from the publisher.
George Ella Lyon is a master storyteller. In this collection of poetry, the voice of each poem’s narrator is as close as a companion’s breath in our ear. The lives she offers up in the chalice of this book are a communion of spirits with all their laments and stark truths, a part of the liquor of life from which we all drink
– bitter, ephemeral, beautiful.
— Normandi Ellis, author of Fresh-Fleshed Sisters and
Dreams of Isis: A Woman’s Spiritual Sojourn
"I contain multitudes," Walt Whitman wrote. He didn't know the half of it. George Ella Lyon's new poems,
Back, contain the voices of girls and boys, women and men from other times and places. "I is someone else," Rimbaud wrote, but miraculously George Ella Lyon is both herself and "someone else"
– in detail, with heart, in songs that are utterly convincing and always sonorous. This collection is a visionary work, taking us out of our petty and narrow selves, transporting us into the stream of what it means to be human
– from within other souls and skins. In tribal cultures, George Ella Lyon would have been a shaman or a medicine woman with these healing songs. In our culture, she's a poet
– a real poet, one whose song liberates us from the confines of the ego, This ability to live in mystery is Positive Capability, and George Ella Lyon possesses this genius in spades.
— Marilyn Kallet, author of Packing Light: New and Selected Poems
and director, creative writing program, University of Tennessee.
In Back poet George Ella Lyon conducts us on a journey of spiritual exploration and transcendence, convincingly invoking the anonymous voices of our recent and ancient tribal
past – among them a Gypsy, a Buddhist boy, a Sioux woman – in a series of monologues that embody our common experience as humans. In this mosaic she finds a composite voice that recreates our shared destiny of mystery and hope, "a web," as one of her voices tells us, "of my life's weaving." These are fine poems.
— Richard Taylor, author of Stone Eye and Girty.
Words of praise for George Ella's
previous work —
Lyon is never trivial; she writes of things that matter – birth,
death, family, community...her metaphors are always vivid and fresh, and
often brilliant.... Lyon's poems are visions to which art has given voice.
— Jim Wayne Miller
Modest and unpretentious.... Whether she
is describing her forebears, her children, or the life of her beloved
Virginia Woolf, her ear is perfect, impeccable, full of lyric music.
— Ruth Whitman
Lyon's poems offer many gifts, but a
focus on the search for ancestry seems to me the unique gift of Catalpa.
This searching begins locally and reaches beyond the bonds that unite us
all, Appalachian and non-Appalachian, man and woman, to the essence of
our common humanity. Here we discover lives brought forth in words,
"no waste and no hurry ... tough as a poem for the burden that
outlasts us, for a heart leaved with words like a tree.”
Catalpa will read you the
riddle of family, of memory, of Oaksie Caudill and Virginia Woolf, of
Red Bird Mission and the Air Force Museum, of searching 'way up the
chromosome chain' for your mothers and fathers.... Like leaves on a tree,
these gentle, accurate poems will delight eye and ear; like leaves on a
tree, they are both seeming-simple and intricately veined, each one
individual yet part of a whispering, mantic whole.
— Jane Wilson