Thursday, February 20, 2014

Capitol Reads

February's Capitol Read is Affrilachia Poems by Frank X. Walker. Walker is Kentucky's most recent Poet Laureate. Walker is the first black writer to receive the honor.

Affrilachia was the 2013 One Book, One West Virginia selection.

"I wanted to tell her/ that the word Affrilachia/ was not divide communities/ that it existed to make visible/ to create a sense of place/ that had not existed." from Affrilachia

Affrilachia (2000) is a ground-breaking book that, as Gurney Norman (former Poet Laureate of Kentucky) writes, "illuminates a vast cultural landscape." In adding a new word to the English language, Walker provided us with a fresh concept of what it means to be Appalachian, a condition that transcends race, revealing a sense of both kinship and place. As Norman writes, "In Affrilachia, Frank startled the world with his poetic assertion that in the twenty-first century, many African American people have regional identity and place-based consciousness that is inextricable from their racial identities,' or, as Walker writes himself, "some of the bluegrass is black." Affrilachia provides a voice to the "Appalachians," who, like the Cherokee, complete the rainbow that is as Appalachian as the Scot-Irish we too often limit the region to.

Frank X. Walker was the recipient of the 2013 Appalachian Heritage Writer's Award, presented by the West Virginia Humanities Council. Walker was also the Appalachian Heritage Writer-in-Residence at Shepherd University. Program support comes in part from the West Virginia Center for the Book.

To learn more about Affrilachian poetry, visit The Affrilachian Poets

To learn more about the West Virginia Center for the Book and the One Book, One West Virginia program visit WV Center for the Book

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