Frank X Walker, Kentucky’s first African American poet laureate, won the 2014 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in Poetry for “Turn Me Loose: the Unghosting of Medgar Evers,” a collection of persona poems that explores the life and assassination of the civil rights pioneer, who was murdered in Mississippi by Byron de la Beckwith 50 years ago last summer. “Turn Me Loose” was published by the University of Georgia Press in 2013.
The NAACP Image Awards honor outstanding achievements and performances of people of color in the arts (television, recording, literature, motion picture writing and directing), as well as individuals and groups who promote social justice through creative endeavors.
Walker was one of five nominees in the highly competitive poetry category. “Turn Me Loose” bested five-time Image Award winner and Grammy nominee Nikki Giovanni’s “Chasing Utopia: a Hybrid,” A. Van Jordan’s acclaimed love letter to filmmaking “The Cineaste,” newcomer Jamaal May’s debut full-length collection “Hum,” and the posthumous “Collected Poems” of AI, the legendary poet who died in 2010.
The awards were broadcast live Saturday on TV One.