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Tongue Lyre

Tongue Lyre

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Tyler Mills


E-book (Other formats: Paperback)
6 x 9

Crab Orchard Series in Poetry


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About the Book

In Tongue Lyre, Tyler Mills weaves together fragments of myth and memory, summoning the works of Ovid, Homer, and James Joyce to spin a story of violence and the female body. Introducing the recurring lyre figure in the collection—a voice to counter the violence—is Ovid’s Philomena, who, while cruelly rendered speechless, nonetheless sets the reader on an eloquent voyage to discover the body through music, art, and language. Other legendary figures making appearances within—Telemachos, Nestor, Cyclops, Circe, and others—are held up as mirrors to reflect the human form as home. In this dynamic collection, the female body and its relationship to the psyche traverse mythic yet hauntingly familiar contemporary settings as each presents not a single narrative but a progressive exploration of our universal emotional experience.


Tyler Mills’s poems have received the Crab Orchard Review’s Richard Peterson Poetry Prize, the Third Coast Poetry Prize, and the Gulf Coast Poetry Prize. Her work has also appeared in AGNI, Best New Poets 2007, New Letters, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. Mills received a BA from Bucknell University and an MFA in creative writing from the University of Maryland. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in the Program for Writers at the University of Illinois–Chicago.


"Taken as a collection, Tongue Lyre weaves a new mythology for our contemporary lives, one based in ancient story but resonating with contemporary problems and settings, with continued attention to voice, body, violence, and song. This is an exciting, imaginative, lyrically charged debut."—American Book Review

“From violins to ossuaries, Tongue Lyre is a lovely debut humming with the gift of a lyric ear. Tyler Mills composes a musical odyssey of the human soul where ‘flames ice the grass.’ Whether riding a bicycle ‘the length of an island,’ cleaning a lyre with rice, or caring for ‘a child / found in an empty factory,’ Mills wisely reminds us that ‘when language fails, there is sound.’ A beautiful collection, refreshing in its allusive and tonal valences.”—Karen An-hwei Lee, Author of Phyla of Joy

"There is an aural intelligence in Tongue Lyre that tests its lines as if they were part of an instrument, which, indeed, they are. It is no accident that much of the matter in Tyler Mills’ poems involves the subject of music—honoring it, evoking it, making it. But the poet’s vocal skills are easily matched by her rich visual brilliance—in so many ways Mills’ poetry is the example of how the imagination becomes a narrative less told than sung."—Stanley Plumly

“In fractured lyrics, Tongue Lyre circles an absence, an epicenter, a wound. Through the sensibility of a postmodern Philomela, the nature of unspeakable trauma is simultaneously interrogated, evaded, and—ultimately—recovered and given voice to in artifactual narrative fragments and shards. Palimpsest with myth and dangerous memory, Tongue Lyre is part tapestry, part song—unutterably powerful in its fierce reclamation of music and broken beauty out of flames, collapse, shattering, violence, disaster. Moving with an assured, tumbling associational momentum and flecked with scalpel-chiseled images, virtuoso passagework, these poems will thread their way through your head like a piercing silvered needlework where they will linger. And sing.”—Lee Ann Roripaugh, Author of On the Cusp of a Dangerous Year