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Words for the People: Where do you call home?


Where do you call home?

In this episode Kentucky Poet Laureate Crystal Wilkinson explores the many sides of home and invites us to tap into the deeper stories that make us who we are.

George Ella Lyon, former Kentucky Poet Laureate and author of the acclaimed poem “Where I’m From,” recalls the shame she experienced being from the hills of Kentucky. “As a young writer, I tried very hard not to sound like where I was from.”

George Ella eventually found pride in the place where she’s from, and her writing encourages others to do the same. From kindergarteners to senior citizens, her “Where I’m From” poem has resonated with people all over the world because it captures a sense of place, of home.

“Place is sort of a head word, but home and the idea of where you’re from involves the gut and the heart,” Crystal concludes during their conversation.

George Ella explains that our sense of place is always changing as we move through life. During the increased division in our country in 2018, she created the I Am From project that encouraged people to write their own I Am From poem to advocate for unity and equality.

While discussing writing advice, George Ella shares a seminal quote by Grace Paley: “Every time you speak the truth you’re making justice in this world.”

George Ella was recently inducted into the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame. You can learn more about her here.

The emerging writer featured in this episode is NitaJade.

As she does with each guest, Crystal asks NitaJade how being a Kentuckian has informed their writing. “I know that I didn’t realize I was Appalachian before I got to Kentucky," NitaJade says. "So without being a Kentuckian and moving here, I wouldn’t recognize a whole part of my identity that now I claim proudly: Affrilachian.”

NitaJade, currently a second-year MFA Poetry candidate at the University of Kentucky, lived in many different places growing up. They write poems that transcend the physicality of place, and speak powerfully to our connection to family. “Wherever my mama goes, that’s where I’m calling home.”

NitaJade has written for the stage and the page. You can find more here.

On this episode we hear writing submissions from Lubrina Burton and Sarah Disney, on the theme of where we’re from. Listen for next month's writing prompt at the end of the episode and submit your writing here!


“Words for the People” is made possible by the Kentucky Foundation for Women, the Snowy Owl Foundation and people just like you.

Sally co-produces the podcast "Words for the People." Email Sally as sevans@lpm.org.