Russell County participating in statewide ‘Where I’m From’ project
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 statewide call for poetry submissions that will represent each of Kentucky’s 120 counties.
The Russell County Public Library is designated as the project organizer for Russell County, and will be collecting submissions of “Where I’m From” poems to be published on the Kentucky Arts Council’s website. The Kentucky Arts Council requires that all submissions be written following the structure and style of Lyon’s original poem, and must include the writers’ names, communities or schools, and counties.
The “Where I’m From” structure explores the Commonwealth through memory poems, and in many cases, is simply a list of what is important to you about a particular place. Poems may be submitted to the Russell County Public Library via email as Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF documents to firstname.lastname@example.org, or dropped off in hardcopy format at either RCPL location. Deadline to submit poems to the Library is Monday, November 28, 2016.
“This is a hands-on learning opportunity for teachers and students to get involved in reading and writing poetry by submitting poems that embody what is important to them about Russell County,” said Library Director Lindsey Westerfield. “It is also a great outlet for local writers who are inspired by their local roots and want to share their craft with others in Kentucky. We certainly want to be sure that Russell County has a great submission and is included among the other 119 Kentucky counties.”
The idea for the “Where I’m From” project 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.”
To read George Ella Lyon’s original poem, visit http://www.georgeellalyon.com/where.html.
For more information on the “Where I’m From” project, visit http://artscouncil.ky.gov/KAC/Vibrant/WhereFromAbout.htm.