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,
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