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The WORK of Art

Found Poem [THE GRACE OF KENTUCKY] - Jay McCoy



by Jay McCoy

A found poem is the literary equivalent of a visual collage made from existing text such as newspaper articles, letters, signs, stories, or other poems. The poet may choose to blackout or erase words from a single text or lift words, phrases, or sentences from a variety of sources and join them together. The newly-crafted poem takes on its own meaning. In these poems, I chose the erasure method, removing certain words to create a more appropriate representation of Breathitt County than what the original New York Times article suggested. 



                Is evident 

                                                                                                In Breathitt 

County                                                                                                 represented 




                                                                the public peace 





                                freely to                               the 


behaved and talked like 

                                                                                a ruffian 


                                                                                never rebuked 

                                                                had the courage to 

                                                save                       the Commonwealth 


                from beginning to end                                   curious 

                                communities                                                      made 


                                                safe                                                                       in 

Breathitt County. 

[found in The New York Times, 18 June 1903] 


How does Breathitt County represent “the grace of Kentucky” to you? How have its people showed courtesy, courage and other positive qualities in difficult times? 

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