Literary Arts

The gift of Kentucky literature

The colder and darker evenings of December drive me indoors in search of warmth and light. To help ward off winter, I like to settle in front of the fire with a cup of hot tea or coffee or cocoa (or a glass of wine) and a good book. I have my favorite authors, living and dead, literary and popular, fiction and nonfiction and poetry. But I can’t helping thinking how amazing it would be to wake up Christmas morning and find one or two or 10 books by some of Kentucky’s finest and most honored writers of poetry and prose, the state’s poets laureate. Please, Santa?

Kentucky Poet Laureate George Ella Lyon

Kentucky Poet Laureate George Ella Lyon

The current Kentucky Poet Laureate, George Ella Lyon, is a prolific writer of books for children and adults alike. Her most recent book, “Boats Float!” (Atheneum Books for Young Readers) includes cheery illustrations by Mick Wiggins, and will make any child or adult dream of voyages over the sea, across the lake or down the river. Did I mention that I’m a big fan of children’s books and can’t imagine giving them up just because I’m above the recommended reading age? If you prefer a book more befitting your age, consider “Many-Storied House” (University Press of Kentucky), a book of poems based on memories of Ms. Lyon’s childhood home (one poem for each room in the house), and “A Kentucky Christmas” (University Press of Kentucky), a collection of holiday stories, poems, songs and essays that includes such stellar homegrown writers as Ms. Lyon, Wendell Berry, Frank X Walker, Jean Ritchie and many more.

WhereImFrom-bannerJust a quick side note, this is also a good time to become a part of the poet laureate project, Kentucky’s “Where I’m From:” A Poetry of Place. Open to all Kentucky residents, participants use Ms. Lyon’s poem “Where I’m From” to commemorate and share their own personal histories and traditions.

For additional ideas, check out the list below of books by some of the Commonwealth’s past poets laureate. These and other titles can be picked up at your local bookstore or ordered from the publishers. I’m giddy just thinking about finding a stack of these books wrapped in a big red bow under my Christmas tree!

Frank X Walker, Kentucky Poet Laureate 2013-2014: “About Flight” (Accents Publishing), “Turn Me Loose: The Unghosting of Medgar Evers” (The University of Georgia Press)

Gurney Norman, Kentucky Poet Laureate 2011-2012: “Ancient Creek” (Old Cove Press), “Divine Right’s Trip” (Gnomon Press)

Maureen Morehead, Kentucky Poet Laureate 2009-2010: “Late August Blues: The Daylily Poems” (Larkspur Press), “The Melancholy Teacher” (Larkspur Press)

Jane Gentry Vance, Kentucky Poet Laureate 2007-2008): “A Garden in Kentucky” (Lousiana State University Press), “Portrait of the Artist as a White Pig” (Lousiana State University Press)

Sena Jeter Naslund, Kentucky Poet Laureate 2005-2006: “The Fountain of St. James Court; or, Portrait of the Artist as an Old Woman: A Novel” (HarperCollins Publishers), “Adam & Eve” (HarperCollins Publishers)

Joe Survant, Kentucky Poet Laureate 2003-2004: “The Land We Dreamed: Poems” (University Press of Kentucky), “Rafting Rise” (University Press of Florida)

James Baker Hall, Kentucky Poet Laureate 2001-2002: “Orphans & Elegies” (Larkspur Press), “Firesticks” (Larkspur Press)

Richard Taylor, Kentucky Poet Laureate 1999-2000: “Fading into Bolivia” (Accents Publishing), “Rain Shadow” (Broadstone Books)

Tamara Coffey
Individual artist director

Categories: Literary Arts

You need to be at the Creative Industry Summit, Nov. 12-13!

Kentucky artists and creative people who make all or part of their living from selling their work are the backbone of the Kentucky creative industry. Yet, many Kentucky artists don’t think of themselves as small business operators or entrepreneurs, which can create disconnect between artists and valuable resource providers when artists seek business development assistance.

Level of Need for Various Resources

Click to see this graph at actual size.

The Kentucky Creative Industry Report, released by the Kentucky Arts Council in December 2014, included important data about the Commonwealth’s creative workforce that has provided new opportunities for the arts council to address some of these issues.

As part of the study, we conducted a survey of Kentucky artists and creative freelancers. That survey gave us an overview of the needs of those who work in the creative industry. It helped us set goals and identify new avenues of assistance to better meet the needs of the state’s creative workforce.

While the survey details specific needs, when looking at the list overall (which you can find on Page 18 of the report or in the graphic to the left) many of those needs fall under one category – business training and development. We’ve addressed this in many ways this year, providing opportunities to artists and creative entrepreneurs to gain valuable skills that will help them grow their arts businesses.

The arts council is offering another great opportunity for artists to receive business training, generate ideas for growth, learn how to market and promote their work, and get in on a discussion about how to become arts leaders in their own communities through team-building. Our one-day workshop for artists and creative entrepreneurs at the Creative Industry Summit Workshops on Nov. 12 will cover all of these topics and give artists a chance to network among their peers. The workshop is $10 and features excellent speakers and workshop presenters. Check out the agenda online and register today. Have questions or need more information? Contact me at emilyb.moses@ky.gov.

Please share this exciting learning opportunity with your own networks of Kentucky artists. By doing so, you’ll be helping the arts council in its mission to strengthen and grow the state’s creative industry.

Categories: Arts Advocacy, Arts Organizations, Folk and Traditional Arts, Literary Arts, Performing Arts, Visual Arts

Celebrating summer with Kentucky Arts Partners

With school ending for the summer, families around the state are looking for unique ways to fill the blissful summer months.  Here at the Kentucky Arts Council, we’ve highlighted a few of the programs and camps being offered by Kentucky Arts Partnership organizations this summer.

Travel WritingThe JetSet Lifestyle – Explore the world without leaving Lexington! At the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning, you’ll learn to capture your journey and share it with other adventure-seekers. Through creative writing exercises, photography, and field trips, you will learn to convert your experiences into engaging and informative stories. By the end of the week, campers will create a colorful and insightful travel presentation, featuring photographs and fiction or narratives, highlighting a noteworthy destination.

Teen Art Camp – Attention teens! It’s time to take your artistic skills to the next level this summer with the Community Arts Center in Danville! At Teen Art Camp, participants will work closely with professional local artists to delve deeper into a different artistic medium and technique each day.

Audition Skills Held at the Walden Theatre, this camp is for anyone who has thought about auditioning for a play or musical or for anyone who has an upcoming audition and wants to be prepared! Students will learn or improve the process of selecting, studying and performing a monologue, learn how to approach “cold readings” from a script, and even navigate their way through a 16-bar musical piece and a dance break. Time will be given to help create an audition package of two song cuttings (one up-tempo, one ballad) and a monologue. All levels welcome.

Puppet Antics Camp – Do you like puppets? Were you in kindergarten through third grade this year? If you answered yes to both questions, then you will love “Puppet Antics” hosted by the Richmond Area Arts Council. Here, students will make several simple puppets and learn to make them dance, sing and perform a variety of silly antics. You’ll share the fun with family and friends with your very own short puppet show at the end of the Friday session. Bring a snack for a daily break and a short puppet show. This camp is presented by Mary and Richard Brown of Puppets and Such in Berea.

Makin’ Music Junior Camp – Grandparents and grandchildren can enjoy summertime activities together at the Behringer-Crawford Museum in Covington! At this camp, participants will enjoy skits, games and crafts as they learn more about music. Campers will even make some simple musical instruments of their own!

For the full list of camps and programs being offered this summer. Visit http://artscouncil.ky.gov/Opportunities/SummerCamps.htm

Categories: Arts Education, Arts Organizations, Folk and Traditional Arts, Literary Arts, Other, Performing Arts, Visual Arts | Tags: ,

From brass to bourbon: Celebrating the arts at Kentucky festivals

In honor of National Travel and Tourism Week, and because we’re excited about these warmer temperatures, we’ve compiled a list of 10 Kentucky festivals to not miss this summer. This festival guide will be your ticket to celebrating Kentucky arts and culture all summer long.

Lowertown Arts and Music Festival

May 16-17, Paducah

Recognized in 2012 and 2013 as one of the Top Ten Spring Festivals in Kentucky by Kentucky Tourism, the Lowertown Arts and Music Festival celebrates the cultural richness found in western Kentucky and the surrounding areas. The festival is free and features regional music, art, theater and food.

 Francisco’s Farm

May 17-18, Midway

 Francisco’s Farm Arts Festival is a juried art show that takes place at Midway College May 17-18. The festival features about 80 high quality artist booths, family and children’s activities, food, music and entertainment. This year, admission and parking are free. Although the location has varied in years past, this year’s festival will return to the Midway College campus.

 

Great American Brass Band Festival

June 5-8, Danville

The Great American Brass Band Festival, an internationally renowned music event, turns 25 in June. To celebrate the important milestone, the festival is inviting back brass groups from previous years. Joining former performers for the retrospective look back will be new ensembles and a range of band personalities and scholars. Dr. George Foreman, the founder of the Great American Brass Band Festival, will share stories and thoughts on the last 25 years and is expected to preview a future book on the GABBF. 

         

Maysville Uncorked! Wine and Art Festival

June 14, Maysville

Maysville Uncorked! draws thousands of visitors to Maysville each year on the second Saturday in June. Held in the historic downtown area, Maysville Uncorked! features Kentucky wineries from across the state as well as local and regional artisans. The event is hosted by the Maysville Players, one of the Commonwealth’s oldest theater companies

 

ROMP

June 26-28, Owensboro

Going on its 11th year, the ROMP festival is a “Bluegrass Roots and Branches” music festival in Owensboro, Ky., at Yellow Creek Park.  Romp stands for the “River of Music Party,” because of the festival’s previous location by the river, and is a joint effort of the International Bluegrass Music Museum, the Daviess County Fiscal Court and the city of Owensboro. The festival draws in upwards of 20,000 people every year.

 

Festival of Learnshops

July 11-27, Berea

Select a workshop from more than 100 choices to pursue your interest in sustainable living, culinary arts, collage, painting, Appalachian crafts, fiber arts, jewelry, glass, storytelling, literary arts, theater, music, dance, Native American folk arts, bonsai, woodworking, or professional development for educators. Workshops vary between two hours and five days and all are family friendly.

 Forecastle Festival

July 18-20, Louisville

 The Forecastle Festival in Louisville is fast becoming one of the state’s most popular festivals. Started in 2002, the three-day arts, music and activism event is held in Waterfront Park downtown. This year’s lineup includes big names like Beck, Jack White and Outkast as well as many other up and coming bands. The festival will also feature a Bourbon lounge and a Kentucky Landing area, a spot that will feature Kentucky-based creations, local craft breweries and food trucks from all across the Commonwealth.

Roots and Heritage Festival

Sept. 5-7, Lexington

The Roots and Heritage Festival is a celebration of African- American culture and achievements. The annual event has earned recognition as one of the Top Twenty Events in the Southeast named by the Southeast Tourism Society. The festival offers educational/cultural programs as well as a diverse group of food, clothing, music, literature and art vendors.

Kentucky Bourbon Festival

Sept. 16-21, Bardstown

 Started in 1992, the Kentucky Bourbon Festival offers a chance to celebrate Kentucky’s favorite spirit! The festival showcases the bourbon-making process and the incredible history behind the bourbon industry in Kentucky. Visitors can also enjoy distilleries’ tents and local artisans on the lawn of Spalding Hall. Participating bourbon makers include Barton Brands of Kentucky, Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon, Buffalo Trace Distillery, Bullit Distilling Company, Four Roses Distillery, Heaven Hill Distilleries Inc., Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark Distillery, Michter’s, Wild Turkey Distillery and Woodford Reserve

St. James Court

Oct. 3-5, Louisville

St. James Court is a juried fine arts and crafts show that hosts around 750 artists from around the country. The show is celebrating its 57th year and was founded in 1957 as a way to help develop and support St. James Court, one of Old Louisville’s most renowned neighborhoods.

For more information about upcoming events, festivals and Kentucky summer adventures, visit the Kentucky Department of Travel at http://www.kentuckytourism.com/

Alex Newby, Communications Assistant

Categories: Arts Organizations, Folk and Traditional Arts, Literary Arts, Other, Performing Arts, Visual Arts | Tags: ,

Q&A with Kentucky Poet Laureate Frank X Walker

Tomorrow is Kentucky Writers’ Day, the Kentucky Arts Council’s annual celebration of the state’s literary heritage and history. In advance of Writers’ Day, Emily B. Moses, arts council communications director, asked Kentucky Poet Laureate Frank X Walker a few questions about his first year as poet laureate. Walker, along with six past Kentucky poets laureate, will read and sign books at a public ceremony tomorrow, April 24, at 10 a.m. in the Capitol Rotunda. For more information about Kentucky Writers’ Day, visit artscouncil.ky.gov.

Image

Frank X Walker and past Kentucky poets laureate, Kentucky Writers’ Day 2013.

Can you share a highlight from your first year as Kentucky Poet Laureate?

My favorite experience is between being invited to share an original poem as part of the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Frankfort and sitting in a classroom of fourth-graders at William Wells Brown Elementary on the day that it was officially announced to the public that I was the poet laureate. Looking out at those kids’ faces and knowing that I use to be one of them made me feel like I was in the ideal place to be and actively engaged in the business of being poet laureate.

As an educator, you have talked about how important it is to you to remain open to learning and discovering new things. What have you learned from your Poet Laureate experience thus far?

I’ve learned that the citizens of the state are very proud of their poet laureate. I can’t believe the number of keys to the city, resolutions, proclamations and Kentucky Colonel certificates I’ve received.

You recently were nominated for, and then won, an NAACP Image Award for your collection of poetry about Medgar Evers. Did you feel at all – or was it ever your intention – that you had helped Evers’ work in life and/or his life’s legacy come full circle through your work?

It was absolutely my intention to help impact Evers’ legacy with the publishing of “Turn Me Loose.” To receive the image award from the NAACP, given their history of social activism, was very meaningful. To stand on the national stage on television and have the world hear me say Kentucky into the microphone was also a proud moment that I had a chance to share with all my friends, family and literary community back at home.

What are your plans related to being Kentucky Poet Laureate for the final year of your term? Are there any goals you would like to accomplish?

I’ve adjusted my own goals a bit. If I could just handle all of the requests for my time without stealing too much time away from my own work, I’d be happy.

Are you working on any new projects that you would like to share with our readers?

I’m hoping to complete a final draft of my novel this year and have it released by the end of my term. It’s set in Kentucky. I hope it will add to an absence of published black male fiction in Kentucky since William Wells Brown.

Emily Moses, communication director

Categories: Literary Arts | Tags: , , , , ,

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