Vibrant Communities

Celebrating the Art & Culture of Kentucky: Some of the Bluegrass is Black

About the Series

The Kentucky Arts Council presents a celebration of Black and African American artists through a monthly interview series that explores and showcases the lives, works and voices of several artists who call the Bluegrass home. Part artist talk, part personal interview, the series combines personal perspectives of the artist’s work, and meaningful conversations with both professional and emerging Black artists in the commonwealth.

The series is hosted by Lexington-based poet-scholar and professor Dr. Shauna M. Morgan, Director of Equity and Inclusion Initiatives at the Center for Enhancement of Learning and Teaching at the University of Kentucky, and Associate Professor of creative writing and Africana literature at Howard University. This series is supported by a grant from the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation.

Join Dr. Morgan each month, June through November, to hear stories from the artists, their personal thoughts on art and artistry in today’s America, and their connections to working in Kentucky and beyond throughout their careers and at this point in time. You’ll also have the opportunity to get in on the conversation by submitting questions during the interview.

Don’t miss this one-of-a-kind series featuring some of Kentucky’s most accomplished artists.

The event is free and registration is required. Register here for the June 10 event.

About Shauna M. Morgan, Ph.D.

Dr. Shauna Morgan

The author of “Fear of Dogs & Other Animals” (Central Square Press), Dr. Shauna M. Morgan is a poet-scholar and Associate Professor of creative writing and Africana literature at Howard University. Both her scholarly work and her poetry are deeply engaged with global Black art and culture. Her critical work has been published in Journal of Postcolonial Writing, South Atlantic Review, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, College Language Association Journal, and elsewhere. Her poetry has appeared in A Gathering Together, Interviewing the Caribbean, A Literary Field Guide to Southern Appalachia, among other periodicals and anthologies. Shauna tends to a hopeful garden at her home at the Artists’ Village in the historic East End of Lexington and works at the University of Kentucky’s Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching where she is the Director of Equity and Inclusion Initiatives in Teaching, Learning, and Academic Innovation.

About Our First Guest: Frank X Walker

Frank X Walker

A native of Danville, Ky., Frank X Walker is the first African American writer to be named Kentucky Poet Laureate. Walker has published 11 collections of poetry, including “Turn Me Loose: The Unghosting of Medgar Evers,” which was awarded the 2014 NAACP Image Award for Poetry and the Black Caucus American Library Association Honor Award for Poetry. He is also the author of “Buffalo Dance: The Journey of York,” winner of the 2004 Lillian Smith Book Award, and “Isaac Murphy: I Dedicate This Ride,” which he adapted for stage, earning him the Paul Green Foundation Playwrights Fellowship Award. His poetry was also dramatized for the 2016 Contemporary American Theater Festival in Shepherdstown, W.Va., and staged by Message Theater for the 2015 Breeders Cup Festival. A lover of comics, Walker curated “We Wear the Mask: Black Superheroes through the Ages,” an exhibit of his personal collection of action figures, comics and related memorabilia at the Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center in 2015; he reprised the exhibit in 2018 at Purdue University and Western Carolina University. Walker recently returned to the world of visual art with a collection of new and early multimedia works, “Black Star Seed: When Mi Cyaan Find Di Words” which was on exhibit at the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning in Lexington.

Voted one of the most creative professors in the south, Walker coined the term “Affrilachia” and co-founded the Affrilachian Poets, subsequently publishing the much-celebrated eponymous collection. His honors also include a 2004 Lannan Literary Fellowship for Poetry, the 2008 and 2009 Denny C. Plattner Award for Outstanding Poetry in Appalachian Heritage, the 2013 West Virginia Humanities Council’s Appalachian Heritage Award, as well as fellowships and residences with Cave Canem, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Kentucky Arts Council. In 2020 Walker received the Donald Justice Award for Poetry from the Fellowship of Southern Writers. The recipient of honorary doctorates from University of Kentucky, Transylvania University, Spalding University and Centre College, Walker is the founding editor of pluck! The Journal of Affrilachian Arts & Culture and serves as Professor of English and African American and Africana Studies at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. His most recent collection is “Masked Man, Black: Pandemic & Protest Poems.”