Frank X Walker, Kentucky poet laureate, has been named the 2014 Diana M. Raab Distinguished Writer in Residence for Spalding University’s brief-residency Master of Fine Arts in Writing Program. Walker gives a public presentation at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, May 29, at the Brown Hotel, 335 W. Broadway. The event is free, ticketless, and open to the public. A book signing follows.
Known for his persona poems that explore the lives of African Americans, Frank X Walker is the first Spalding MFA graduate to serve as the program’s featured author. His most recent poetry collection is Turn Me Loose: The Unghosting of Medgar Evers (University of Georgia Press, 2013). His other poetry collections are Isaac Murphy: I Dedicate This Ride (Old Cove Press, 2010), 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), which won the Lillian Smith Book Award in 2004; and Affrilachia (Old Cove Press, 2000).
In February, Walker won the 2014 NAACP Image Award in the category of Outstanding Literary Work in Poetry. A 2005 recipient of the Lannan Literary Fellowship in Poetry, Walker is Associate Professor of English at the University of Kentucky and is the editor and publisher of PLUCK!, the new Journal of Affrilachian Art & Culture. He is a founding member of the Affrilachian Poets.
The Diana M. Raab Distinguished Writer in Residence fund was established in 2011 through a gift from Raab, a 2003 alumna of the Spalding MFA in Writing program. An award-winning memoirist, essayist, and poet, Raab is the author of nine books, most recently Lust.
Walker’s appearance is the headline event for Spalding’s Festival of Contemporary Writing, May 24-31. The festival is Kentucky’s largest and most prestigious spring-fall reading series. Past guest authors include Tim O’Brien, Ernest J. Gaines, Yusef Komunyakaa, Pico Iyer, Daniel Handler (a.k.a. Lemony Snicket), Naomi Shihab Nye, Bobby Moresco, Heather Raffo, and many others.
The Festival of Contemporary Writing is part of Spalding’s brief-residency Master of Fine Arts in Writing Program. The creative writing program offers concentrations in fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, writing for children and young adults, playwriting, and screenwriting. Fall and spring semesters begin in Louisville in November and May, respectively, while a summer semester with residency abroad begins in June or July and is designed to fit teachers’ schedules. The summer 2015 residency takes place in Greece. For more information, see www.spalding.edu/mfa.