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Frank X Walker Advance January 2014
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Kentucky Poet Laureate Frank X Walker to Give Reading Jan. 28

Posted on Monday, January 27, 2014 [12:53 PM]

Frank X Walker

COLUMBIA, Ky. --
Kentucky Poet Laureate Frank X Walker will give a reading Tuesday night at Lindsey Wilson College.

Walker will speak at 7 p.m. CT on Tuesday, Jan. 28, in the W.W. Slider Humanities Center Recital Hall. His reading is free and open to the public.

 

Walker is a co-founder of the Affrilachian poets, and he is for creating the term "Affrilachia,"  which is used to describe African-American culture in Appalachian regions.

 

"My definition of Affrilachian is married to people of color not included in traditional narratives and definitions of Appalachia even though they may inhabit the same or similar geographical space. I see heritage and race as equal influences," Walker said.

 

Walker has dedicated his life to educating others about his craft and the history of his culture.

 

"I think the negative caricatures and stereotypes of the region have driven people's negative perceptions of the region," he said. "I believe a broader cultural definition that included Negro League Baseball, August Wilson, Nina Simone, Roberta Flack, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Bill Withers, Henry Louis Gates and others would allow people to celebrate the positives. My poetry reflects family, social justice, identity, place and history."

 

While seeing himself as a truth teller and observer, Walker's writing often draws on his own experiences.

 

"My writing is often fairly autobiographical. I at least draw from what I know even when writing fiction," he said. "Some of my most defining moments from childhood include learning to read, getting my first pair of glasses and time spent on the bookmobile."

 

Walker is the author of four poetry collections: When Winter Come: The Ascension of York (University Press of Kentucky, 2008); Black Box (Old Cove Press, 2005); Buffalo Dance: The Journey of York (University Press of Kentucky, 2003), which won the Lillian Smith Book Award in 2004; and Affrilachia (Old Cove Press, 2000).

 

A 2005 recipient of the Lannan Literary Fellowship in Poetry, Walker is also writer in residence and lecturer of English at Northern Kentucky University, and he is editor and publisher of PLUCK!, a journal of Affrilachian art and culture.

 

Installed as Kentucky's poet laureate for 2013-14 by Gov. Steve Beshear, Walker is responsible for promoting literary arts and leading statewide literary events. Although Walker may be best known as a writer, he is also very much a teacher.

 

"I don't think that I have reached a point where I've decided that writing is what I want to spend the rest of my life on. I certainly hope to write the rest of my life, but teaching is my first love," he said. "And when I grow up I'd like to make movies."

 

LWC Library Services Director Phil Hanna, who chairs the committee responsible for bringing Walker to campus, said the poet laureate brings literature to life.

 

"The co-curricular cultural events, seen in visits by persons like Frank X Walker, provide exposure to voices that had not previously been identified, in this case, that of black Appalachia," Hanna said. "What you learn in class comes to life when you hear real people talk about a tradition that they are part of. It is also important to see examples of what society recognizes as persons of achievement.

 

"In the past, when we've had regional writers, I always observe students speaking to them after their presentation indicating they have things they would like to write about from their youth. If Frank X Walker can do it, perhaps I can as well. Within the Lindsey Writes project, it also exposes students to persons for whom writing is their livelihood."

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