Kentucky life inspires fiction: Writer Crystal Wilkinson reads at Centre
RELEASED: Nov. 9, 2006
DANVILLE, KY—Centre College will sponsor a public fiction reading by Crystal Wilkinson on Nov. 16 at 4 p.m. in the Evans Lively room on the second floor of Old Carnegie Hall. This free event is sponsored by the Division of Humanities and the Division of Social Studies at the College.
Born in Hamilton, Ohio in 1962, Wilkinson was raised in Indian Creek, Ky. Her grandparents took her into their care when she was six weeks old.
A self-described country girl, Wilkinson's work reflects "a love and homage to... Appalachian roots." Wilkinson grew up on her grandparents' farm where her grandfather planted tobacco and corn and made sorghum molasses, and her grandmother worked as a domestic worker for schoolteachers in the county.
"I lived an enchanted childhood," Wilkinson says in remembering her days roaming the knobs and hills of her home. "My grandparents gave me the freedom to explore the countryside and to write, to dream, to discover. They wanted me to have things that they didn't have, to know things they didn't know. But whether they knew it or not, they were the wisest people I have ever known. I learned so much from them about nature, about art, about life."
One of the first generations in her family to attend college, Wilkinson received a bachelor's degree from Eastern Kentucky University and an M.F.A. from Spalding University in Louisville. Currently an assistant professor of creative writing at Indiana University-Bloomington, Wilkinson is also a member of the creative writing faculty at Spalding University.
Wilkinson is the 2002 recipient of the Chaffin Award for Appalachian Literature and is a member of a Lexington-based writing collective The Affrilachian Poets.
She is the author of two books: Water Street and Blackberries, Blackberries. Water Street was a finalist for the prestigious Orange Prize and short-listed for a Zora Neal Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation Legacy Award in fiction.
Wilkinson writes about life in small rural towns including Danville, Ky. Water Street transports the reader to a middle-class neighborhood Stanford, Ky, and Blackberries, Blackberries is a collection of stories that explore the joy and pain of "Affrilachia" women."I grew up on a farm in Indian Creek, Kentucky, during the seventies. I swam in creeks and roamed the knobs and hills," Wilkinson reflects. "We had an outhouse and no inside running water. Our house was heated by coal- and wood-burning stoves, and we lived so far back in the woods that we could get only one television station. But it was a place of beauty—trees, green grass and blue sky as far as you could see. I am country."
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