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A Breathitt County Sonnet - Jay McCoy


A Breathitt County Sonnet

by Jay McCoy

North Fork Kentucky River, Wolverine, 

Hurricane Fork, Inverness, Paxton, Press, 

Shoulderblade, Elkatawa, Chenowee, 

Rousseau, Daisydell, Robinson Forest. 


Flat Branch, Fivemile, Big Caney Creek, Lambric, 

L & N Railroad, Barwick, Ned, Gentry, 

Chesapeake & Ohio, Rye, Rock Lick, 

Macedonia, Altro, Keck, Saldee. 


Widecreek, Stidham Fork, Orchard Branch, Wilhurst 

Portsmouth, Kragon, Gas Well Hollow, Taulbee, 

Jett’s Creek, Strong Branch, Deadening Hollow, Curt, 

Mountain Valley, Crocketsville, Vail, Vancleve. 


Sewell, Sugar Camp Branch, Decoy, Roosevelt, 

Fletcher Fork, Hunting Creek, Haddix, Hardshell. 


What are some of your favorite place names in Breathitt County? Do you have any information about how these names came to be? 

Jay McCoy is a Lexington-based poet and visual artist with deep roots in Eastern Kentucky. Currently, he fills his days as a contract editor, writer, bookseller, and writing instructor. 


This column is brought to you by Our Breathitt, a community arts and health experience bringing together artists and Breathitt Countians from across Kentucky. Project is organized with IDEAS xLab (an artist-led nonprofit), and supported by the National Endowment for the Arts. Starting in August 2019, five collaborating writers, each with their own perspectives and ties to the county, will offer weekly columns and audio stories for radio and podcasts. Contact us at 859-397-1317 to join this conversation by leaving a voicemail with your response to the questions we raise and adding thoughts of your own! You may hear your responses incorporated into future posts and narratives! You can also email at We hope you will mark your calendars and join us at the Our Breathitt Summit, October 11-12 in Jackson, Kentucky. Information at