Written by: Elizabeth Kramer
Kentucky’s new poet laureate is Frank X Walker, the poet, author and teacher who helped found the Affrilachian Poets literary movement and coined the word Affrilachia, which means relating to an African American who lives in Appalachia.
The Kentucky Arts Council announced today that Gov. Steve Beshear had appointed the Danville native to the position for 2013-14.
Walker, 51, is the state’s first African-American poet laureate and the youngest to be named to the position.
Walker, an associate professor in the University of Kentucky’s English department and director of the African-American and Africana Studies program, has written five collections of poetry as well as plays.
The release of his sixth collection of poetry, “Turn Me Loose: The Unghosting of Medgar Evers,” is scheduled in the spring from the University of Georgia Press.
He has received accolades for his work, including the Thomas D. Clark Literary Award for Excellence and a $75,000 Lannan Literary Fellowship in Poetry.
Walker’s career also illustrates a dedication to community involvement via his roles as founder/executive director of the Bluegrass Black Arts Consortium, board positions for the Kentucky Humanities Council, Appalshop and the Kentucky Writers Coalition and a government appointment to the Cabinet for Education, Arts & Humanities and the Committee on Gifted Education. He has served as vice president of the Kentucky Center for the Arts and executive director of Kentucky’s Governor’s School for the Arts.
Walker is a University of Kentucky graduate with a master of fine arts degree in writing from Spalding University.
In his role as Kentucky poet laureate, Walker is responsible for promoting the literary arts through readings of his work across the state. He succeeds outgoing poet laureate Maureen Morehead.
He will be formally inducted during a ceremony April 24, which is Kentucky Writers’ Day, at the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort.
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