Kentucky Poet Laureate’s first year…in verse


Monday, April 25, the Kentucky Arts Council celebrated Kentucky Writers’ Day, honoring all Kentucky writers, with a ceremony at the State Capitol. The current and past Kentucky poets laureate shared their thoughts on the literary arts in the Commonwealth and read from their own poetry and prose. George Ella Lyon shared her experiences over the past year as Kentucky Poet Laureate in a reflection that began with her new “Where I’m From” poem.

POET LAUREATE, YEAR ONE                       4/3-13/16


I’m from the Mountain,



and Western Kentucky Parkways

from the Dixie Highway, I-64, I-75, 25-E:

Eleven thousand miles last year, not counting sky.

(Calculate miles per poem.)

From Warsaw to Whitley City

the mountains to the Mississippi

I’m from giving workshops that give back

from Read it again. I missed the last line.

Slower.                 Louder.                           Wow!


I’m from sixty-eight jobs

in seven states

and thirty-one cities.

I’m from my family, my cats, and my writers group.

I’m from four journals—

fat with tickets, leaves, dreams–

from rejection and acceptance.


I’m from school halls papered with poems.

From the Arts Council

and from the common wealth

of teachers and librarians

helping writers find their voices.

I’m from amazement in a woman’s face

when she said, “I don’t like writing but I loved this.”


I’m from coffee urns and Keurigs

from yellow food formerly known as eggs

kept curdled on the breakfast bar.

I’m from third grade poets

who burst into applause

when they discovered how old I am:

“You’ve been writing poems for fifty-eight years!”


I’m from round table revelations

and pot luck celebrations,

from silence.

I’m from poems that got out of prison

though the poet did not.


I’m from “My Mamaw was bad to write”

and “All I wanted was a washing machine

and a trip to Woodstock.”


I’m from where you’re from:

branches and creeks of your Kentucky poems–

Big Goose, Little Reedy, Beargrass.

They find their confluence here.

I’m from the lines you’ve written

and the welcomes you’ve given


from the poems we haven’t made yet

the truth that waits to be told.


— George Ella Lyon


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