Danville native, UK graduate, and Affrilachian poet co-founder Frank X Walker has been named Kentucky’s poet laureate. Walker is the author of five poetry collections: Isaac Murphy: I dedicate this ride; When Winter Come: the Ascension of York; Black Box; Buffalo Dance: the Journey of York, which won the Lillian Smith Book Award in 2004; and Affrilachia. His sixth book is due out later this Spring.
In a 2002 Ace essay, Walker described himself as the “self-appointed poet laureate of the projects.”
In 1999, Walker was Ace’s “This Year’s Model,” a model citizen making a difference in Lexington. The introduction read:
“Frank X Walker has been in on the inception of so many Lexington cultural institutions, grassroots efforts, and community mainstays that it’s easy to lose track of his many contributions over the past decades.”
He responded by deflecting credit:
“I was kind of like a farmer. There are a lot of things that I was a part of at the genesis. I’m not claiming to be a catalyst… every time something is being born, I seem to be around… like a midwife.”
Walker will be formally inducted during a ceremony on Kentucky Writers’ Day, April 24, at the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort. He is Kentucky’s first African-American poet laureate, and the youngest Kentuckian to be given the honor.
He currently serves as a University of Kentucky associate professor in the Department of English and director of the African American and Africana studies program.
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Ten years ago in Ace, Walker wrote: “More intercultural communication will occur between blacks and whites over the next few weeks than anytime during the rest of the year. The month will also allow us a clear look at who is committed to presenting arts programming further illustrating the need to distinguish the all important artist activist from well-publicized entertainers. I choose to define artist activists as those utilizing their artistic gifts and talents as vehicles of social change or to positively impact and educate others, while entertainers are more self absorbed and interested in their own personal benefit, primarily financial. Fortunately for us and thanks to the number of local top tier artist activists, there are numerous opportunities to experience the arts at its highest form while simultaneously broadening our own education. The outcome is maximized when institutional cooperation is part of the formula. When it happens well, it’s easy to forget that the Education, Arts, and Humanities cabinet is actually part of state government. The cabinet houses the Kentucky Arts Council, Department of Education, Governor’s School for the Arts, KET, and many other agencies whose combined focus is directed at the overall quality of life of all Kentuckians.”
Isaac Murphy: Everybody Reads 9.18.2010
Love and (UK) Basketball by Frank X Walker 3.27.2003
That’s Edutainment: Black History Month by Frank X Walker 2.13.2003
Kentucky’s Criminal Mischief by Frank X Walker 1.30.2003
I Dare You to Dream, by Frank X Walker 1.9.2003
My Old Kentucky Home by Frank X Walker 11.21.2002
Ace’s 1999″This Year’s Model,” is Frank X Walker