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Walker to talk poetry at library

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Lexington resident is prolific writer and advocate of the arts

By Lisa King

Shelby County Public Library officials say they are excited about tonight’s speaker, Frank X. Walker, who was named poet laureate for 2013-14.

“He is a poet laureate, so we wanted to invite him, especially since he is the first African-American to receive the award, so that’s very exciting,” said Linda Mahone, the library’s marketing director.

Walker, a Lexington resident, is a native of Danville and a graduate of the University of Kentucky, where he is an associate professor in the English department. He serves as writer in residence and lecturer of English at Northern Kentucky University.

He is also the editor and publisher of PLUCK!, the new journal of Affrilachian art and culture.

“As a co-founder of the Affrilachian Poets and the creator of the word Affrilachia, I believe it is my responsibility to say as loudly and often as possible that people and artists of color are part of the past and present of the multi-state Appalachian region extending from northern Mississippi to southern New York,” Walker wrote on his Web site, www.frankxwalker.com.

He is a 2005 recipient of the Lannan Literary Fellowshipin Poetry, and Mahone said she was very impressed with hiswork, which includes four poetry collections, When Winter Comes: the Ascension of York (2008), Black Box (2005), Buffalo Dance: the Journey of York (2003), which won the Lillian Smith Book Awardin 2004; and Affrilachia (2000).

Said Walker: “I choose to focus on social justice issues as well as multiple themes of family, identity and place.”

He has lectured and conducted workshops, read poetry and exhibited at over 300 national conferences and universities in the United States and Ireland and has appeared on television in PBS's GED Connection Series, Writing: Getting Ideas on Paper, and in Performance At the Governor's Mansion and in Living the Story: The Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky.

He also co-produced a video documentary, Coal Black Voices: the History of the Affrilachian Poets, which received the 2002-2003 Jesse Stuart Award presented by the Kentucky School Media Association.

Mahone said that so far, poet laureate appearances at the library have been well attended – the facility has featured two others – and she thinks that Walker could turn out to be the biggest yet.

 “We had to reschedule him, because he had to go to an award ceremony in Los Angeles,” she said. “We are looking forward to having him, because we think he’ll be very popular.”

Poet Laureate

at library

WHO: Kentucky Poet Laureate Frank X. Walker

WHEN: 6-7 p.m., today

WHERE:Shelby County Public Library, 309 8th St., Shelbyville

MORE INFO:633-3803, ext. 11