Sunday, May 1, 2016

celebrating Harlan, Kentucky's, hometown hero, George Ella Lyon

post #282
               Greetings from Harlan, Kentucky! I have been here this weekend for the home town celebration of Kentucky's current poet laureate, George Ella Lyon. Despite plentiful rain, the 3 - 8 p.m. gathering worked out so well.  Congratulations to Robert Gipe and all the folks who worked so hard to making this proclaimed George Ella Lyon Day a beautiful one for her and us all.  There was a one day art exhibit, that took weeks to organize and pull together. There was a short play based on one of George Ella's [45] books, readings by students of her poems and of "Where I'm From" poems, music from an amazing adult choral group and from The Troubadors, as well as tributes that included George Ella's 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Unthank, and the previous Kentucky poet laureate and mentor Gurney Norman.  The community provided a delicious potluck dinner as well!
       I hope these photos I made will give a further feel for what the occasion was like.  Don't worry, I am just able to show about 30 of them. The light in the big room was challenging for me, as was my wanting to visit with everyone. [Please remember this post was prepared the morning following the George Ellabration, and added to throughout the day as I returned home 5 hours away.]
A rainy, foggy Saturday in Harlan, Kentucky

which we left to enter into a large room of light and food and art and music and celebration of a hometown writing girl who has made a big difference.

George Ella with Mrs. Unthank, longtime fan, former GEL teacher

more art show panels

Kentucky art -- with a heart (Harlan County)

GEL and Bruce Florence

on-going art work at the event, by hard workers!
       Two young actors were impatient last night for their play to start, though I am sure they may often be impatient. The whole group did a great job. The book they are acting out is George Ella's Five Live BongosAnd the mannequin arm that was part of their show became a feature in many of the future photos of folks using the podium.  Love it.

   Sunday morning: These are only some of the photos I will be posting - this motel is not equipped with the fiber optic I am used to at home, in northeastern Kentucky, and the time fast approaches to START for home so this is the first version of this post. 
    ....And now it is later, and I am at home, so here are some more photos!!

The Troubadors

George Brosi, books, books, books!

Jillean came from Berea, Richard Hague from Cincinnati!
Bravery in action to read a poem to a crowd of strangers - bravo to all! 
waiting to be the next to read

a moving reading of George Ella's poem "She Let Herself Go"

a commissioned painting by Skye Brosi

a reading by Misty Skaggs, who did the major share of gathering up art for the show!


surround sound at its best
Ann Schertz, musical director

memories of illustrator and artist Paul Brett Johnson

Gurney Norman, former poet laureate, and an early supporter of George Ella (shown with that reaching mannequin arm....)

Thank you, Mrs. Unthank, for letting me take your photo during this happy occasion. And thank you for your early support of George Ella and her poetry, in the fourth grade!


  1. Great job, Ann! And so wonderful of all those who participated.
    I saw Sky at our Spring Retreat recently at Pine Mountain.

  2. George Ella ... You have done marvelously well! Congratulations!!! I always hope our paths will cross again one day soon. Veronica