The Kentucky Center Governor’s School for the Arts (GSA), currently underway on Centre College’s campus, presents a reading by Kentucky writer Frank X Walker and other Affrilachian Poets on Wednesday, June 29 at 8 p.m. The reading, which is free and open to the public, will be held in Newlin Hall in the Norton Center for the Arts.
The reading will mark the 25th anniversary of the creation of the Affrilachian Poets by Walker, who has a personal relationship with GSA as the former executive director of the program.
“The Affrilachian Poets have been a monumental staple at GSA over the last 25 years, not only because of our strong ties with Frank X Walker but because of what the Affrilachian Poets can teach our students,” says current Executive Director of GSA Carrie Nath. “This group of powerful word artists shows our students how to reveal their unique self.”
Walker, a native of Danville, Ky., was the Kentucky Poet Laureate in 2013-14. He coined the term “Affrilachia”—a combination of the words “Appalachia” and “African-American”—in 1991 as a way of staking a claim on his identity, as he found early in his career that representations of Appalachia in culture and history often did not include African-Americans and other people of color.
As the Affrilachia official website explains, Affrilachia is “an ever-evolving cultural landscape poised to render the invisible visible.”
Walker and his fellow Affrilachian Poets create works that offer new ways of seeing and living in Appalachia, which Nath believes is important for the students participating in GSA to understand.
“They remind the students of their connections to Kentucky and help them to better understand familial roots, social-economic impacts and cultural influences,” she says. “They remind our students they have a voice and an identity that needs to be shared no matter how marginalized it may be. That is why we invite them back year after year and why we’re so happy to celebrate their 25th anniversary with them.”
Walker will be joined at the reading by other Affrilachian Poets, who will also read from their works.
“People can expect a dynamic performance. It isn’t often that you can hear from so many different poets in one night,” Nath says. “Expect an imaginative play with language and a vibrant delivery. The Affrilachian Poets are not only effective on the page, but are skilled performers.”
Walker holds both a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s of fine arts in writing from the University of Kentucky. He is a recipient of the Kentucky Arts Council Al Smith Fellowship.
GSA began on June 19 and will conclude on July 9. This is Centre’s third year hosting the statewide arts education program, managed by the Kentucky Center. GSA allows artistically gifted rising high school sophomores and juniors from across the state to complete an intensive arts residency in their chosen artistic field.
by Elizabeth Trollinger
June 28, 2016