Black History Month Spotlight:
Kentucky’s 1st Black Poet Laureate Frank X Walker visits Global Education Center

Frank X. Walker

Frank X. Walker

Former Kentucky Poet Laureate Frank X Walker will be the featured presenter on Friday, February 17 as the Global Education Center and the Metro Human Relations Commission join in commemorating African American History Month. The public is invited to come meet Mr. Walker at a Reception (6:30) and Keynote Presentation and Reading (7:30).

On Saturday, February 18, Mr. Walker will facilitate the workshop entitled “Historical Poetry: Our Story, Not His” from 10:00-Noon. The events will be held at the Global Education Center, 4822 Charlotte Avenue, in west Nashville. Admission to Friday’s Reception and Keynote Presentation is free and open to the public. Tuition for Saturday’s workshop is $30 for members of the Global Education Center ($40 for non-members) and advance registration is required.

Voted one of the most creative professors in the south, Frank X Walker is the originator of the word, “Affrilachia,” signifying the importance of the African-American presence in Appalachia. According to Walker, the “new word … spoke to the union of Appalachian identity and the region’s African-American culture and history.” He writes about the cultural landscape of the Appalachia region extending from northern Mississippi to southern New York. His work focuses on social justice issues as well as multiple themes of family, identity and place.

He is the author of Affrilachia, a groundbreaking collection of poems; Turn Me Loose: The Unghosting of Medgar Evers, winner of the 2014 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Poetry; and Buffalo Dance: The Journey of York, winner of the Lillian Smith Book Award as well as two new collections, The Affrilachian Sonnets and About Flight. Walker is a professor in the department of English and the African American and Africana Studies Program at the University of Kentucky. He is also the founding editor of Pluck! The Journal of Affrilachian Arts & Culture.

The workshop promises to be a guided journey through the history of poetry in the African American Experience. Historical poetry has become the go-to genre for the reclamation of (s)heroes and the rescuing of muted and silenced voices of oppressed peoples. Marilyn Nelson, Natasha Trethewey, Tyehimba Jess, and Adrian Matejka have all contributed vivid award-winning collections of verse that exhume the true stories behind key historical figures, musicians, and infamous athletes. Mr. Walker is the author of four such collections. His workshop will lead participants through this interrogation process, sharpening and utilizing the important and necessary tools of empathy, memory, research, and imagination.

This program is funded in part by a grant from Humanities Tennessee, an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, in partnership with Tennessee Arts Commission, National Endowment for the Arts, and Metro Nashville Arts Commission.
Global Education Center’s Line Breaks Literary Reading Series is dedicated to building bridges of understanding between people of diverse cultures using poetry as the catalyst. The series is held October through May and offers a broad range of readings,
performances, workshops, and lectures featuring some of the nation’s most compelling literary voices. The mission of the Metro Human Relations Commission is to protect and promote the personal dignity, peace, safety, security, health, and general welfare of all people in Nashville and Davidson County. The Commission’s work is organized around a theme of “One City for All People.”

For more information about this and other Line Breaks events, visit the official website at www.globaleducationcenter.org/line-breaks-literary-reading-series.html or email thandiwe@globaleducationcenter.org or call (615) 651-0210.