In stock

ISBN: 978-1-62557-986-7
Reviews & Media KIRKUS Starred Review
Categories Poetry

Mosaic of the Dark

Publication Date: January 2018



Mosaic of the Dark is a portrayal of one woman’s journey to wholeness and addresses the psychological harm that can arise from restrictive societal expectations for women. As the speaker in these poems examines her own early experiences as a closeted lesbian trying to fit her life into the prescribed script of heterosexuality, she grapples with her mother’s possibly non-heterosexual orientation and eventual death from alcoholism. In the end, the speaker successfully sheds familial and cultural expectations in favor of her true self and, in the process, experiences a spiritual re-visioning that allows her to move beyond the confines of a male-centered Christianity to a more expansive, mystical way of experiencing the divine.


Mosaic of the Dark is a portrait of a young woman emerging from the constrictions of family and cultural expectations into her own authentic self. But these poems do not stop there. Lisa Dordal empathizes with the grouchy cashier at the toy and candy store of her childhood: how can I not/ admire her for her refusal/ to feign contentment; she crouches at the bars of a boy’s prison cell: I hear him breathing, telling him:/ it is a beautiful sound; she wonders if houseflies might be sent by the angels: their thousands and thousands of eyes-make a mosaic of the dark. While this collection is well-rooted in personal experience, the poems branch out with an empathetic and precisely observant heart to give us a glimpse of the mysterious world that threads through us all.

– Ellen Bass

Lisa Dordal’s Mosaic of the Dark is actually a book of light. Dordal means to illuminate the quotidian until it is as luminescent as any spiritual experience: “I dream of flight. A sun/that can hold a million earths/and a mouth that swallows its fire.” This is the eye of a poet looking to her work for redemption and grace. Mosaic of the Dark is a beautiful book.

– Jericho Brown

In Lisa Dordal’s Mosaic of the Dark, desire transfigures the world we believe we know. The boy at the center of the poem is a stand-in for God. A mother is a place we’ve left. Two black horses in a cave are manifest, and what cannot be undone is as plain and secret as history itself. Here a bird drags its universe of feathers across the yard, and Dordal is the breath that sends them aloft like prayer.

– Traci Brimhall

About the Author

Lisa Dordal

Lisa Dordal holds a Master of Divinity and a Master of Fine Arts (in poetry), both from Vanderbilt University, and teaches in the English Department at Vanderbilt. She is the author of Mosaic of the Dark, which was a finalist for the 2019 Audre Lorde Award for Lesbian Poetry, Water Lessons (April 2022), and Next Time You Come Home (forthcoming 2023), all from Black Lawrence Press. She is a Pushcart Prize and Best-of-the-Net nominee and the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize, the Robert Watson Poetry Prize, and the Betty Gabehart Poetry Prize. Her poetry has appeared in The Sun, Narrative, Image, The New Ohio Review, Best New Poets, Greensboro Review, RHINO, Ninth Letter, and CALYX. Her website is lisadordal.com.

Visit Author Page