Lexington, KY, writer George Ella Lyon grew up in Harlan, KY, coal mining country. Her unusual name came from her mother, who named George Ella after her brother George and sister Ella.
Lyon started writing poems when she was in third grade, and soon became interested in music as well. She studied both music and writing at Centre College, in Danville, KY, where she met her husband Steve Lyons, a musician and writer. The two married in 1972.
It was in college that she decided the she loved writing most. Lyons went on to graduate school and began a life of teaching, writing and raising a family. She and her husband have two grown sons. She began writing poetry for adults, but over the years has begun writing for kids as well as adults, and now teaches through workshops, conferences, and author visits.
George Ella Lyon’s Appalachian roots figure into many of her more than 40 books. Lyon strives to make poetry accessible, to encourage people to recognize the poetry in everyday speech.
Lyon was named Kentucky's Poet Laureate for 2015-16. In making the appointment, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear praised Lyon's work as a poet and teacher as "a portrait of Kentucky heritage and tradition.” Lyon’s publications have won numerous awards.