"Where I'm From" by Billie Quesenberry

Adaptation of George Ella Lyon's "Where I'm From"

First place poetry prize

Chrysalis Literary and Arts Magazine
Ferrum College, Spring 2015

You can read George Ella Lyon's poem "Where I'm From" on her web site, and listen to her read it. She was inspired by another great Appalachian writer, Jo Carson, and the people in her book of poems Stories I Ain't Told Nobody Yet (Poem 22 includes the lines "But honey, where are you from?" and "You're not from here are you?," and lines that begin "I am from....") Lyon's Student literary magazine prize winnersweb site provides ideas for using this poem to inspire your own writing, and links to poems and videos by students in different places and many Kentuckians.

The poem below was written by a student in Tina Hanlon's Appalachian Literature class at Ferrum College in Fall 2015. Billie Quesenbery, class of 2017, is from Floyd, Virginia. Her poem is reprinted here with permission after being published in the Spring 2015 issue of Chrysalis Literary and Arts Magazine, where it won a first-place prize for poetry. (Billie is second from left in photo at right of prize winners.)

See others from this poetry tradition on the page "Where I'm From" Poems by Ferrum College Students. Some poem excerpts from Ferrum's Appalachian cluster students and Dr. Rathin Basu's Business Communications class were presented at the Appalachian College Association Summit in October 2009 (pdf copy of one PowerPoint slide at this link).

Another poem that Billie Quesenbery wrote about her hometown,"More than a Map Dot," is also reprinted in this web site.

Where I'm From

By Billie Quesenbery

Where I'm from
One stoplight functions
for the entire 382 square miles
of Floyd County.

Where I'm from
the cows outnumber the people
by a longshot.

Where I'm from
Little River flows across the county
and in your blood, because that's
where you spend your days in the summer
when you're not working or fishing.

Where I'm from
My Momma and Daddy
are the best in the world.
They work their tails off so that
us kids could have everything we need.

Where I'm from
you know everyone in the county.
and their brothers. and sisters.
and even the name of their dog.

Where I'm from
Your best friend in the whole world has
been your best friend since pre-school when
You chased kittens together.

Where I'm from
you don't miss church.
And Revivals are a big celebration.
You don't miss a Revival either.

Where I'm from
it's not the people you would think
who get crowned Homecoming King and Queen.
People like me do,
Where I'm from.

People like me love with all they got,
trust with all they got,
respect with all they got,
and cherish all they got,
Where I'm from.

Image of poem from Chrysalis

copyright 2015 Ferrum College
all rights reserved

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Complete list of AppLit pages on Poetry
Bibliography of Books by George Ella Lyon
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Contact Tina L. Hanlon with questions or comments on this page.