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George Ella Lyon, Writer and Teacher; For All Our Voices
Issue No. 16 September 2015
George Ella and Gurney Norman

Circles & Celebrations

My summer has been joyful. In May my younger son got married, and I now have a beautiful, brilliant, artistic, funny, and compassionate daughter-in-law. At the beginning of July, I attended a family reunion--replete with Wilder cousins--and at the end, I taught at the Appalachian Writers Workshop at Hindman Settlement School, as I have almost every year since my dear friend and mentor Gurney Norman (photo at right by Ann W. Olson) took me there in 1980. If youíre looking for welcome, community, and exciting workshops, all woven with stories and music, come join us next summer at the Forks of Troublesome Creek.

Now the circle turns again as notebooks go on sale and school bus engines are revving up. Iím looking forward to cooler days and Poet Laureate travel from the mountains to the Mississippi. May we all learn and laugh together.

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Voices from the March on Washington, 1963


Voices from the March on Washington, co-written with J. Patrick Lewis (WordSong), won the Social Justice Literature Award from ILAís Literature and Social Responsibility Special Interest Group. (The International Literacy Association was formerly the International Reading Association.)

Many-Storied House, a memoir in poems set in the house where I grew up, will be adapted as readersí theater by the Falcon Theater in Newport, Ky. Show date is January 15, 2016 at the Newport Branch of the Kenton County Library.

Videos of my Poet Laureate induction speech and reading (complete with washboard-accompanied song) are available through the Kentucky Arts Council at http://artscouncil.ky.gov/KentuckyArt/Poet.htm.

Many-Storied House

Picture Books:

Boats FloatBoats Float!, co-written with my son Benn and illustrated by Mick Wiggins, launched September 1, and has received a starred review from Publishers Weekly.


A Kentucky Christmas, the multi-genre anthology I edited, is being adapted by James W. Rodgers and directed by Patricia Clark at the Woodford Theater in Versailles, KY. Performances are December 4-6, 11-13, and 18-20.

QUOTATIONS recently copied into my journal

"Perfectionism is not a quest for the best. It is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves, the part that tells us that nothing we do will ever be good enough."—Julia Cameron, The Artistís Way

Simple is not easy; itís elegant."—Carrie Newcomer, songwriter



Mine is not spotted.
Mine is not striped.
Mine is hand-lettered.
Mine is not typed.
Mineís not on vellum.
Mineís not on cloth.
Mine has no rick-rack.
Mine is no sloth.

Mine might be foolish
Mine can be bold
Mine has been burnished
Mine might be gold
All that I wanted
All I have claimed
Promises this:
Mine will be named.


Choose something you feel drawn to write about and make a list of other things it is like. Play with the arrangement of these images till you feel a quickening, some energy that arises from combining them. More lines may occur to you as you do this. Welcome them. Keep playing until the poem settles. Voilŗ! The joy of the maker is yours.

Happy poetry! Happy spring!

George Ella Lyon

It All Connects

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