Publication Date:  May 1, 2020
Paperback, 48 pages
ISBN:  978-1-937968-63-2

Booksellers:  Available from
Small Press Distribution

$18.00 retail, or
when you order directly from
Broadstone Books, below
Lynnell Edwards is author of three
full-length poetry collections,
Covet, The
Highwayman’s Wife
and The Farmer’s
, and the chapbook Kings of
the Rock and Roll Hot Shop
. Her short
fiction and book reviews have appeared
New Madrid, Connecticut Review,
Cincinnati Review, Pleiades, and
elsewhere. Her poems have been
featured on Verse Daily. As associate
professor of English at Spalding
University in Louisville, Kentucky, she
directed and taught first-year writing as
well as other creative writing and
literature courses. Awards include the
2007 Al Smith Fellowship. She is a
founding member of Louisville Literary
Arts, serving as its president 2008-2013;
she currently serves on its advisory
board. She served on the Kentucky
Women Writers Conference Board of
Directors 2012-2017. Edwards holds the
PhD in Rhetoric and Composition as well
as the MA with Creative Writing Thesis,
both from the University of Louisville.
Genius loci.  The pervading spirit of a place. This little book from Lynnell Edwards is
all about the spirit of a very specific place, in this case the environs of central
Kentucky, and she writes about this place in two very different times, in two very
different styles. So different, in fact, that one might first wonder what the two parts of
the book have in common.  The answer, of course, is
genius loci.

In the original Roman use of the term, “spirit” meant the protective deity of a place.  
And in pioneer Kentucky, a place that Edwards’s McAfee ancestors helped to settle,
that deity could be cruel. The historical narrative poems in the first part of the book
recount many instances of hardship and violence, both as experienced by white
settlers, and as dealt by them upon the Native Americans from whom they
“conquered” this place. So harsh a place, in fact, that Governor Patrick Henry (when
this land was still part of Virginia) begged his own sister, “Pray don’t go to Kentuckie
to live.”  But many did, and endured.

In the more contemporary sense, “spirit” means the unique sense and feel of a place,
and in the second part of this book Edwards captures that spirit through her lyrical
recollections of boating on the Kentucky River with her family, in her childhood,
when she could imagine herself a

mermaid, my hair loosed
                    and living as tall field grass
    drifting in the summer air,
            white hands luminous
                    and slow, parting
      the water below, open eyes
                    into silence, the dark distance.

In effect she becomes, in this moment at least, the spirit of the place. A part of its
deep past.

The violence of history, and the beauty and peace of nature.  Edwards understands
that both are present in the story of Kentucky, and of our nation as a whole, and she
expresses both eloquently through the poetry here.  Her love of this place is palpable,
but it is no naïve love.  She knows what it has cost, and she knows that it is fragile.  
Like the ancient limestone palisades along the Kentucky River, she words serve as a
“record of what our great green Earth once was, and where, if we can keep it, we
might still find our place.”

Praise for Lynnell Edwards & This Great Green Valley

One of poetry’s oldest purposes is to tell the story of the tribe. The story of the
struggle for 18th century Kentucky is one of violence and sacrifice: land-grabbing
schemes, broken treaties, a child’s body committed to the water, heroic rescues, a
massacre averted.  Lynnell Edwards skillfully layers incidents from this turbulent past
upon her own childhood’s “summer days snug / and certain in the great green valley”  
that was once a place of so much hardship.
This Great Green Valley is a fine chapter
in that story.
                                    —Joe Survant, former Kentucky Poetry Laureate

In these poems, Lynnell Edwards lights a path through the “great green” wilderness
of Kentucky across the centuries. By weaving folklore with archive, and pastoral
landscape with personal lyric, Edwards reckons with the seeming contradictions of
history. These brave poems face the confounding tangle of desire, visionary
imagination, and, yes, violence that characterized Kentucky's frontier era, ending
with a moving meditation on one poet's relationship to a single river. In language of
warning and wonder, Edwards invites us to think, in complex ways, about the “fossil
bed[s] and shale flint[s]” we call home.
                                    —Kiki Petrosino, author of
White Blood: a Lyric of Virginia
Poetry by