Back to the Light
Published by: The University Press of Kentucky
Imprint: The University Press of Kentucky
Acclaimed poet George Ella Lyon returns with a brilliant new collection that traces the arc of a woman's life from girlhood to mature womanhood. In answer to the first poem, "Little Girl Who Knows Too Much," Lyon embarks on a journey from a child who was silenced to "Some Big Loud Woman" who claims the right to a voice. Along the way she meets allies and guides including Dickinson, Woolf, Mary Travers, Grace Paley, and the giver of dreams. As sailors once navigated by the stars, so Lyon navigates by these luminaries. They are not distant, though. Their light is always near.
Alternately witty, tender, shocking, and visionary, Back to the Light reveals the reunion of body and spirit, truth and story. In the process, it demonstrates the power of poetry to liberate and to heal.
This work is as strong and fine as anything I have read, and I would hope to write such poems myself. Back to the Light will be welcomed by many kinds of readers. It is visionary, highly accessible, and highly teachable.~Diane Gilliam, author of Kettle Bottom
Back to the Light is a girl's song, is a big loud woman's song, is a country girl who has seen the blood of many things high note, is a woman who foolishly buys shoes she can't run in elegy, is a growling great mother's dirt road aria, is a terrified 5 year old's courageous chant to the world. George Ella reminds us, in elegant George Ella style, how the country located just below the nose and just above the chin of a woman's face is a sparkling cave of galaxies.~Nikky Finney
For nearly four decades, George Ella Lyon's poetry has shown us the healing power of writing about place. Hers is a music where the self and community meet, and she has empowered countless others to sing their songs of their places. I know I am one of the countless, having found my way thanks to Lyon's humble, radical, enduring life's work. For me, she walks in the lineage of other luminaries like Joy Harjo, Alicia Ostriker, and Sonia Sanchez, those women writers who refuse to leave others behind, and though I can't imagine being without any of Lyon's books, if I could own only one, it would be this one. In Back to the Light George Ella Lyon turns her courage inward, sharing the hard fact that she is not only from 'clothespins' and 'Clorox' but also shame and silencing. As the book moves through the years, each poem lifts the poet's inner-child out of trauma, holding her close, tenderly giving the fierce love she always needed to sing her own freedom song. Back to the Light is a pivotal new piece to Lyon's oeuvre, a road map to that place all too often abandoned: ourselves. I wish I could buy this book for every woman I know.~Rebecca Gayle Howell
Through the 46 moving poems in Back to the Light, George Ella Lyon takes readers on a journey with her. The specificity with which she re-creates a moment in each—whether noticing a third-grader at one of her school visits, or the moment at age five when an older boy sexually assaults her, or the way a stone she finds puts her in mind of Virginia Woolf's suicide—adds up to a cumulative epiphany by the collection's end, and offers an overriding sense of hope.~Shelf Awareness
These poems help us realize what is truly important and give us some deep thoughts to consider.~Appalachian Mountain Books
In exploring the course of the narrator's life, George Ella Lyon crafts poems that are by turns tragic and humorous, inspirational and oppressive, puzzling and enlightening. This collection beautifully highlights the healing power of poetry and the strength that each individual carries within themselves.~Seattle Book Review