Multidisciplinary artist Frank X Walker is a native of Danville, Ky., a graduate of the University of Kentucky, and completed an MFA in Writing at Spalding University in May 2003. He has lectured, conducted workshops, read poetry and exhibited at over 300 national conferences and universities including the Verbal Arts Centre in Derry, Northern Ireland; Santiago, Cuba; University of California at Berkeley; Notre Dame; Louisiana State University at Alexandria; University of Washington; Virginia Tech; Radford University; and Appalachian State University.
A founding member of the Affrilachian Poets, he is the editor of America! What's My Name? The "Other" Poets Unfurl the Flag (Wind Publications, 2007) and Eclipsing a Nappy New Millennium and 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, winner of the 35th Annual Lillian Smith Book Award; and Affrilachia (Old Cove Press, 2000), a Kentucky Public Librarians' Choice Award nominee.
A Kentucky Arts Council Al Smith Fellowship recipient, Walker's poems have been converted into a stage production by the University of Kentucky Theatre department and widely anthologized in numerous collections; including The Appalachian Journal, Limestone, Roundtable, My Brothers Keeper, Spirit and Flame: An Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry and Role Call: A Generational Anthology of Social and Political Black Literature and Art. He is a former contributing writer and columnist for Ace Weekly and the first Kentucky writer to be featured on NPR's This I Believe.
Other new work appeared recently in Mischief, Caprice & Other Poetic Strategies (Red Hen Press), Tobacco (Kentucky Writers Coalition), Kentucky Christmas (University Press of Kentucky), Cornbread Nation III, Kudzu, The Kentucky Anthology: Two Hundred Years of Writing in the Bluegrass (University Press of Kentucky) and the Louisville Review.
He has appeared on television in PBS's GED Connection Series, Writing: Getting Ideas on Paper, in In Performance At the Governor's Mansion and in Living the Story: The Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky. He contributed to Writing Our Stories: An Anti-Violence Creative Writing Program Curriculum Guide developed by the Alabama Writer's Forum and the Alabama Department of Youth Services. He 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, and produced a documentary exploring the effects of 9.11 on the arts community, KY2NYC: Art/life & 9.11. His visual art is in the private collections of Spike Lee, Opal Palmer Adisa, Morris FX Jeff, and Bill and Camille Cosby.
He is the recipient of the 2006 Thomas D. Clark Literary Award for Excellence, Actors Theatre's Keeper of the Chronicle Award and a 2005 Recipient of a $75,000 Lannan Literary Fellowship in Poetry.
He has held board positions for the Kentucky Humanities Council, Appalshop and the Kentucky Writers Coalition as well as a government appointment to Cabinet for Education, Arts and Humanities and the Committee on Gifted Education. He has served as vice president of the Kentucky Center for the Arts and the executive director of Kentucky's Governor's School for the Arts.
Walker regularly teaches in writing programs like Fishtrap in Oregon and SplitRock at the University of Minnesota; currently serves as Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of Kentucky; and is the proud editor and publisher of PLUCK!, the new Journal of Affrilachian Art & Culture.
I have accepted the responsibility of challenging the notion of a homogeneous all-white literary landscape in this region.
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.
As a writer/observer/truth teller, I choose to focus on social justice issues as well as multiple themes of family, identity and place.
I also accept the dual responsibility of existing as a teaching artist and making a commitment to the identification and development of the next generation of young writers and artists.
"Finally, a gathering of words that fiercely speaks to what it truly means to grow up African-American in Appalachia. These are not stories of those of us transplanted conveniently into the territory for whatever reason. These poem-stories are from a native Affrilachian heart, more specifically, from the man who first created the word in order to define and not be rendered invisible. This personal poetic narrative is a historic valuable offering, one man's unapologetic truth, granting us an eagle eye view into what it means to be young, Black, artistic, and male in America as one century comes to an end and another begins. His poetry looks you in the eye, in plain-spoken unembellished, heartfelt language. Anyone who knows about the human heart and human nature can read it."
-- Nikky Finney, author of Rice, Sister Vision Press.
"The poems in Affrilachia are funny and sad, tragic and hopeful, angry and determined, and as filled with generosity and love as poetry by any American writer in a generation. This book is powerful and beautiful. It is honest and true."
-- Gurney Norman, author of Kinfolks, The Wilgus Stories, Gnomon Press
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