|Danville-born poet to discuss the life of York
Three-hundred copies of Frank X Walker's book to be given away at event
RELEASED: Jan. 22, 2004
DANVILLE, KYFrank X Walker will read from his recently released book Buffalo Dance: The Journey of York on Thursday, Feb. 5, at Centre.
The event will be held at 7:30 p.m. in Newlin Hall at the College's Norton Center for the Arts and is free and open to the public. The first 300 in attendance will receive a copy of Buffalo Dance, published by the University Press of Kentucky, courtesy of the College.
Buffalo Dance is a collection of poems in the voice of York, a slave to William Clark who accompanied him on the Lewis and Clark expedition. York was the only African-American member of the expedition and served as an equal member in terms of the duties the group shared. But because he was a slave, he received no money or land for his efforts. York eventually came to Kentucky and was granted his freedom.
York's story has recently gained interest as last year marked the 200th anniversary of the beginning of the three-year Lewis and Clark expedition to explore the West.
Walker, Danville native and executive director of the Governor's School for the Arts, wrote the poems to dramatize York's perspective on those events and historical developments. Walker fictionalizes York's thoughts, dreams, hopes, fears, and desires in order to reveal him as an individual, despite his slave status.
"I never felt like I was really speaking for York but was rather attempting to accurately translate and transcribe what I felt like he was saying to me and to people who don't know his story," said Walker, who did extensive research for the book. "York would wake me up early in the morning insisting that I take some notes because he had a lot to say."
Walker's visit to Centre is part of the book-reading campaign "What if all Danville-Boyle County reads the same book?" Many area schoolchildren are reading Buffalo Dance, and Walker will be visiting local schools, libraries, and civic groups, as well as participating in such events as African American Reading Chain Day on Feb. 19 and the Danville Heritage Festival on March 6. The culminating event for the campaign will be a panel discussion at Centre on April 25. Bill Goodman of Kentucky Educational Television will host the program in which the guestsincluding members of Centre's facultywill offer their perspectives on Walker's collection of poems.
"Having this event will greatly benefit the students of this area," says James Atkins, assistant vice president and associate professor of education at Centre. "I think it's unique to have a Danville native who's written about a historical figure just now coming into the limelight. Mr. Walker's work is tremendous."
Added Mark Rasmussen, associate professor and chair of English.
"This reading will allow both Centre's students and members of the Danville community to experience path-breaking work by one of Danville's own. As ceremonies around the country mark the 200th anniversary of the Lewis and Clark expedition, Frank Walker's creativity allows us to view that historical event with new eyes. I hope that both Centre's students and Danvillians will come to Newlin Hall to hear Frank read and receive a copy of his book."
The Feb. 5 reading is sponsored by Centre's Office of Diversity Education.
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