Gov. Steve Beshear appointed poet Frank X Walker the 2013-14 Kentucky Poet Laureate today.
Walker is a native of Danville and a graduate of the University of Kentucky and Spalding University, where he earned his Master of Fine Arts in creative writing. He is well known as the originator of the term “Affrilachia,” which describes Appalachian African Americans and their work and culture, and a founder of the Affrilachian Poets, a collective of writers of color with Appalachian ties.
Walker is the first African American writer to be named to the post; he’s also the youngest.
His work has earned the Lannan Literary Fellowship and the Lillian Smith Book Award. He is the author of five collections of poetry: “Isaac Murphy: I Dedicate This Ride,” “When Winter Come: the Ascension of York,” “Black Box,” “Buffalo Dance: the Journey of York” and “Affrilachia.” He is the editor of the anthology “America! What’s My Name?” and the founder of “Pluck!,” a journal of Affrilachian art and culture.
A former executive director of the Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts, Walker is an associate professor of English at the University of Kentucky, where he directs the African American and Africana studies program.
“Frank X Walker’s deep roots in the Kentucky writing community and his contributions to the state’s rich literary history led to a new movement in the arts – one that defined and gave voice to a specific population of Appalachian residents,” said Gov. Beshear in a release. “Our state and region are better for it.”
Walker will be inducted to the office in a public ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort on April 24, Kentucky Writers’ Day. The nomination and selection process for the Kentucky poet laureate office is administered by the Kentucky Arts Council and an independent review board.