I am not sure whether George Ella believes that she – or we – are destined to go “back to the light.” I think these poems more likely indicate that, to the extent that “the light” exists, it is transitory, not back or forward. Mostly, I think George Ella likes to get us to think about it. The title poem actually takes place underground, a place known for being bereft of light – of course she sets it there - she’s George Ella, and she plays with her words and plays with us. Yes, that poem does end with her and her late mother walking “back to the light,” providing more food for thought. George Ella has always been up-front with us. And these, frankly, are senior citizen poems since George Ella is not about to hide from us the fact that she has lived and learned for a long time and now does some old woman things, like look back on her sources of inspiration. She also still does the kind of things she has done all her life ever since she was a little girl growing up in Harlan, Kentucky, and ever since she was middle-aged living in Lexington, Kentucky, where she still resides. Like before, these poems help us realize what is truly important and give us some deep thoughts to consider. She’s in double figures now with poetry collections, as well as the children’s books she mostly wrote when she and her husband had a couple of their own children at their home. George Ella was a Kentucky Poet Laureate which was perfect because she has always been an ambassador for poetry. "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. "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.
Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2021. 105 pages. Trade paperback.