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  Kentucky Arts Council

Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet

Feb. 15, 2016
Media Contact: Tom Musgrave
Communications Director
502-564-3757, ext. 489

Tell your Kentucky story: ‘Where I’m From’
project deadline is March 7

FRANKFORT, Ky. — In 1993, Kentucky poet George Ella Lyon wrote these words to open her now internationally acclaimed poem “Where I’m From”:

“I am from clothespins,
from Clorox and carbon-tetrachloride.
I am from the dirt under the back porch.”

Those words and the proceeding stanzas tell the story of Lyon’s Harlan County upbringing. The Kentucky Poet Laureate is encouraging residents from each of the state’s 120 counties to use her poem as a model to tell their own stories via the Kentucky Arts Council’s project titled “Where I’m From: A Poetry of Place.”

“This project is about connecting to your own voice,” Lyon said. “We need to demonstrate that art speaks from every county in Kentucky, that poetry speaks from every county in Kentucky. It’s alive and well, and needs to be nourished.”

“Where I’m From” has resonated with students at all levels, from elementary school classrooms to university lecture halls. One example is a writing teacher Lyon met at a conference in Murray.

“She taught in the Purchase Area Writing Project, and told me she had started college twice in her life and not been able to make any headway or connect with it. She said it didn’t seem like college was for her,” Lyon said. “When she tried a third time, she had a class where the first assignment was to write a ‘Where I’m From’ poem. For the first time she was able to experience connection with her place and her voice. She said that helped her turn a corner and she wouldn’t quit this time.”

People interested in participating in the “Where I’m From” project can do so by emailing their county contact. If there is no contact listed for your county or you are interested in being the county contact, email Tamara Coffey, individual artist director, at

The deadline for submitting poems for the “Where I’m From” Web page is March 7. In addition to written poems, video and audio interpretations of poems will be accepted via online hosting platforms like YouTube and SoundCloud.

“We are shooting for 100 percent participation in this statewide project. For us to have the opportunity to showcase work from each Kentucky county on Kentucky Writers’ Day in 2016 would be an outstanding way to celebrate the arts council’s 50th anniversary,” said Lori Meadows, arts council executive director. “I encourage all Kentuckians to look within yourselves and your communities and find something that inspires you to express your pride of place.”

The Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency, fosters environments for Kentuckians to value, participate in and benefit from the arts. Kentucky Arts Council funding is provided by the Kentucky General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts. The arts council is celebrating 50 years of service in 2016.

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