Frank X Walker Named Kentucky's First African-American Poet Laureate

Feb 15, 2013

Lexington author and University of Kentucky professor Frank X Walker will become Kentucky’s next poet laureate. The Danville native will be formally inducted on Kentucky Writers’ Day April 24th.

Frank X Walker will be both the state’s first African-American poet laureate and its youngest. In his announcement Gov. Steve Beshear said the UK professor is responsible not only for contributions to the state’s rich literary history but for helping to launch “a new movement” in the arts, giving “voice to a specific population of Appalachian residents.”

Walker, who is known for coining the term “Affrilachia,” says he’s received an outpouring of interest in the wake of the honor.

"People appreciate that it is a significant moment for Kentucky, given our reputation collectively and the caricature of Kentucky from afar, I think this appointment represents something different," Walker says.

Still, Walker stresses that he’s only part of a long tradition.

"I'm not an oddity. I come out of a long line of poets and wordsmiths of color. There are a bunch of us here," he notes.

Walker says his goal is to serve as a role model for those kids who come from humble beginnings. He will succeed outgoing poet laureate Maureen Morehead.