Arts and Culture

Kentucky’s new poet laureate will be freelance writer and teacher who is originally from Harlan County.

George Ella Lyon will succeed Frank X Walker, who was appointed by Gov. Steve Beshear in 2013.

Lyon has written more than 40 books, including the poetry collections “Mountain,” which won the Lamont Hall Award in 1983, and “Catalpa,” which was named Appalachian Book of the Year in 1993.

She will be inducted on April 24 at a ceremony in Frankfort.

WFPL interviewed her following the announcement.

What do you consider to be the role of the state’s Poet Laureate?

“There’s stories and poetry and in everybody’s life. And it’s a matter of helping them connect with their stories and their voices  and realize that those matter, that they have something inside of them that wants to be expressed. Whether I am doing a reading or a workshop I hope to help people feel that and experience the power of their own voice.”

What does poetry do for you?

“It makes me more alive. It brings my inner life and my outer life together in a way that is energizing and healing I think.”

As a poet, is Kentucky a unique place to write about?

“We’re a cross roads of North and South and East and West and we used to be a frontier and now people may think we’re away from the center of things. But in fact so many things converge here. I think it’s a powerful place and a vary varied place…from the mountains in the eastern parts all the way to the flatlands and the Mississippi and the Ohio along the top of Kentucky.”

In 2010, Lyon spoke with Dr. Chad Berry, director of the Appalachian center at Berea College, as part of the school’s Head of the Hollar program: