© Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Frank X Walker
Kentucky Poet Laureate
2013 - 2014


Frank X Walker is the author of six poetry collections: Turn Me Loose: The Unghosting of Medgar Evers, winner of the 2014 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Poetry; Isaac Murphy: I dedicate this ride; When Winter Come: the Ascension of York; Black Box; Buffalo Dance: the Journey of York, which won the Lillian Smith Book Award in 2004; and Affrilachia. A 2005 recipient of the Lannan Literary Fellowship in Poetry, Walker is cofounder of the Affrilachian Poets. He currently serves as an associate professor in the Department of English and director of the African American and Africana studies program, both at the University of Kentucky.

Walker is known internationally for his unique approach to teaching writing and numerous literary accomplishments. Most famously among them is his creation of the word "Affrilachia," a term that unifies Appalachian identity and the region's African-American culture and history. The word Affrilachia is included in the Oxford American Dictionary. He is a leader of the Affrilachian literary movement that prides itself in giving voice to previously muted and silenced people and promotes excellence in teaching, writing, art and activism.

Walker is a native of Danville, Ky., a graduate of the University of Kentucky, and he completed a master of fine arts in writing at Spalding University. He has lectured, conducted workshops, read poetry and exhibited at more than 300 national conferences and universities including the Verbal Arts Centre in Derry, Northern Ireland; Santiago, Cuba; University of California at Berkeley; Notre Dame; Appalachian State University and many more.

Walker has served as founder/executive director of the Bluegrass Black Arts Consortium, and the program coordinator of the University of Kentucky's King Cultural Center. He was awarded an honorary doctorate of humanities in 2001 from UK for his collective community work and artistic achievements. Transylvania University awarded Walker an honorary doctor of letters degree in 2002.

Walker is the recipient of the 2006 Thomas D. Clark Literary Award for Excellence, and an Actors Theatre of Louisville Keeper of the Chronicle Award. He has held board positions for the Kentucky Humanities Council, Appalshop and the Kentucky Writers Coalition, as well as a government appointment to the former Cabinet for Education, Arts and Humanities and the Committee on Gifted Education. He has served as vice president of the Kentucky Center for the Arts and the executive director of Kentucky's Governor's School for the Arts. He is a past recipient of an Al Smith Individual Artist Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council.

Walker is the recipient of the 2013 Appalachian Heritage Literary Award from the West Virginia Humanities Council. The Kentucky Conference for Community and Justice named him one of its Humanitarian Award winners. In 2011, he was named one of "The most creative teachers in the South" by the "Oxford American: The Southern Magazine of Good Writing."

Walker's literary background has deep roots in Kentucky and his work draws heavily on his experiences in the state. He lives in Lexington, Ky.



Kentucky Arts Council