In the summer of 1993, Kentucky poet George Ella Lyon started working on the piece that would become her award-winning and internationally acclaimed poem “Where I’m From.” It has since become one of the foremost poetry writing models in the world.
Lyon, Kentucky poet laureate for 2015-16, is using “Where I’m From” as the central theme of a project that will touch all 120 of Kentucky’s counties.
Corbin Public Library has agreed to be the “Where I’m From” organizer for Whitley County, and will be collecting submissions of “Where I’m From” poems to be included on the Kentucky Arts Council’s “Where I’m From” Web page. Poems may be submitted as Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF documents.
Don’t panic! A “Where I’m From” poem is just a memory poem written by those of us who live here, and a memory poem isn’t as difficult as you may think. A “Where I’m From” memory poem is simply a list of what’s important to you. Go to George Ella Lyon’s website to see a copy of her “Where I’m From” poem to get an idea of how the poem might be.
The project idea came about as Lyon was mapping out her mission as poet laureate for the next two years.
“When I tried to think what I might contribute as poet laureate that goes beyond visiting schools, I thought of my poem ‘Where I’m From,’ which has been used so widely as a writing model,” Lyon said. “I’ve gotten poems from all over the world and I thought ‘wouldn’t it be fascinating to have a poem from every county in Kentucky.’”
Lyon hopes the project sparks creativity among all Kentuckians.
“There are multigenerational possibilities. There wouldn’t just be poetry from high school or college students, but people in senior centers, nursing homes, other adults, a multitude of voices,” Lyon said. “It gives the opportunity for a community to have celebration of poetry, and gives an opportunity for all those voices to express themselves about their places and people.”
“I am hopeful that many people of all ages in Whitley County will take advantage of this opportunity to document where they’re from which will be specifically different for each and yet the same. This is a wonderful memory project and I am grateful to George Ella Lyon for the idea.” Diane Mitchell, Friends of Corbin Library member who will be working with the library on the project.
The deadline for submitting poems to be considered for the “Where I’m From” Web page is March 7 but poems will be accepted until a later date for the April display.
For more information on the “Where I’m From” project see
“Where I’m From”Project web page: http://artscouncil.ky.gov/KentuckyArt/WhereFromAbout.htm
“Where I’m From”poem: http://www.georgeellalyon.com/where.html