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The Kentucky Anthology

Two Hundred Years of Writing in the Bluegrass State

Wade Hall

Publication Year: 2005

Long before the official establishment of the Commonwealth, intrepid pioneers ventured west of the Allegheny Mountains into an expansive, alluring wilderness that they began to call Kentucky. After blazing trails, clearing plots, and surviving innumerable challenges, a few adventurers found time to pen celebratory tributes to their new homeland. In the two centuries that followed, many of the world’s finest writers, both native Kentuckians and visitors, have paid homage to the Bluegrass State with the written word. In The Kentucky Anthology, acclaimed author and literary historian Wade Hall has assembled an unprecedented and comprehensive compilation of writings pertaining to Kentucky and its land, people, and culture. Hall’s introductions to each author frame both popular and lesser-known selections in a historical context. He examines the major cultural and political developments in the history of the Commonwealth, finding both parallels and marked distinctions between Kentucky and the rest of the United States. While honoring the heritage of Kentucky in all its glory, Hall does not blithely turn away from the state’s most troubling episodes and institutions such as racism, slavery, and war. Hall also builds the argument, bolstered by the strength and significance of the collected writings, that Kentucky’s best writers compare favorably with the finest in the world. Many of the authors presented here remain universally renowned and beloved, while others have faded into the tides of time, waiting for rediscovery. Together, they guide the reader on a literary tour of Kentucky, from the mines to the rivers and from the deepest hollows to the highest peaks. The Kentucky Anthology traces the interests and aspirations, the achievements and failures and the comedies and tragedies that have filled the lives of generations of Kentuckians. These diaries, letters, speeches, essays, poems, and stories bring history brilliantly to life. Jesse Stuart once wrote, “If these United States can be called a body, Kentucky can be called its heart.” The Kentucky Anthology captures the rhythm and spirit of that heart in the words of its most remarkable chroniclers.

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky

Front cover

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pp. ii


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pp. iii-xiv


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pp. xv-xvi


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pp. 1-8

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When Kentucky Was Wilderness : The Early Years

"In the mid-eighteenth century, to the west, beyond the English colonies that bordered the Atlantic Ocean and were struggling to become independent, lay a vast, uncharted wilderness of great promise and wealth. Although..."

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John Filson

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pp. 11-12

"It was on the 1st of May, in the year 1769, that I resigned my domestic happiness for a time, and left my family and peaceable habitation on the Yadkin river, in North Carolina, to wander through the wilderness of America, in quest of the country of Kentucke, in company with John Finley, John..."

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Colonel James Smith

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pp. 13-23

"In May 1755, the province of Pennsylvania, agreed to send out three hundred men, in order to cut a waggon road from Fort Loudon, to join Braddock's road, near the Turkey Foot, or three forks of Yohogania. My brother-in-law, William Smith esq. of Conococheague, was appointed commissioner, to have the oversight of these road-cutters."

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George Rogers Clark

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pp. 24-28

"George Rogers Clark, the founder of Louisville on Corn Island at the Falls of the Ohio in 1778, was a soldier who was directed by Virginia’s Governor Patrick Henry to attack the British forts at Kaskaskia, Vincennes, and Detroit to eliminate the British presence in lands that would be claimed, should the American Revolution..."

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Thomas Perkins

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pp. 29-33

"A rare and choice travel narrative is the following letter written by an anonymous visitor to Kentucky describing his dangerous trip through the Cumberland Gap, one of the two main avenues into the new land (the other was the water route down the Ohio River). The preponderance of evidence suggests that the author of the..."

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Gilbert Imlay

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pp. 34-37

"The life of Gilbert Imlay, another early visitor to Kentucky, reads like an adventure novel. A native of New Jersey and a veteran of the American Revolution, he came to Louisville in 1784 and failed as a land speculator. He left in 1792 and moved to..."

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Christian Schultz

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pp. 38-46

"In my last I promised to give you some account of the different kinds of boats made use of on these waters, and shall now proceed to gratify your curiosity on that subject. The smallest kind of craft in use are simple log canoes; next follow perrogues, which are a larger kind of canoes, but sufficiently strong and capacious to carry from twelve to fifteen barrels of salt."

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John James Audubon

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pp. 47-53

"John James Audubon, the most famous bird painter in history, moved to Louisville in 1808 and lived off and on in Louisville and Henderson for more than a quarter of a century. He spent his Kentucky years trying to be a good merchant and sawmill operator and roaming the woods in pursuit of birds he could shoot and stuff and..."

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Robert Emmett McDowell

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pp. 54-55

"Todd wasn’t disappointed by the settlement at the Falls of the Ohio for the simple reason that he hadn’t expected it to amount to anything. Louisville, for such was its official name, consisted of a scattering of rude log hovels set down in the midst of ponds and swampy ground that gave the place an..."

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Jude Deveraux

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pp. 56-59

"There were many travelers on the road heading for Kentucky and even farther west. They were drawn by the enticement of riches beyond belief, of fertile, virgin land that was theirs for the asking. There was no longer an Indian problem and Kentucky was a state, so they felt safe, protected from..."

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Carolyn Lott Monohan

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pp. 60

"Poets who have written about pioneer Kentucky are legion. The Louisville poet Carolyn Lott Monohan speaks about the strong women who accompanied their men into the wilderness and often suffered more than they did."

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Charles Dickens

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pp. 61-66

"One of the most famous visitors to Kentucky was Charles Dickens, who, accompanied by his wife, visited the United States and Canada between January and June 1842. As a passenger on a steamboat between Cincinnati and Louisville, he met Chief Pitchlynn of the Choctaw Indians, who impressed him with his intelligence..."

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The Scourges of Slavery and Civil War

"It is hard to believe that less than a century and a half ago-when my greatgrandparents were living-most people, north and south, in this 'land of the free' still accepted human slavery as a part of civil society. There had been abolitionist sentiments and movements throughout the colonial and early national periods, but none of them had been effective enough to..."

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Alexis de Tocqueville

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pp. 69-73

"Alexis de Tocqueville (1805–1859) was born into a prominent French aristocratic family with royal connections, but he developed liberal, democratic ideas and came to America in May 1831, ostensibly to study our prisons but actually to gather information on our political institutions that might be useful in democratizing France."

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William Wells Brown

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pp. 74

"Slave narratives were based on the true stories told by escaped or emancipated slaves about their experiences. Many of them were told to educated writers who doctored them up to conform to literary standards and to give them dramatic flair. This is the way that William Wells Brown’s autobiography begins:..."

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Josiah Henson

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pp. 75-79

"I have no desire to represent the life of slavery as an experience of nothing but misery. God be praised, that however hedged in by circumstances, the joyful exuberance of youth will bound at times over them all. Ours is a lighthearted race. The sternest and most covetous master cannot frighten or whip..."

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Harry Smith

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pp. 80-82

"Atkinson and Richardson were two southern men, living in New Orleans. They made annual tours to Kentuckey in the spring attending all the resorts of Tennessee and Kentuckey buying all the slaves they could find, large and small, they could get. When the planters would learn of their presence in the..."

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Milton Clarke

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pp. 83-85

"When I was about six years of age, the estate of Samuel Campbell, my grandfather, was sold at auction. His sons and daughters were all present at the sale, except Mrs. Banton. Among the articles and animals put upon the catalogue, and placed in the hands of the auctioneer, were a large number of slaves. When every thing else had been disposed of, the question arose among..."

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Jefferson Davis

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pp. 86-87

"Born in Fairview, in Todd County, Kentucky, Jefferson Davis attended St. Thomas Catholic School in Springfield and later Transylvania University; he graduated from West Point in 1828. When he was two years old, his family moved to Louisiana and then Mississippi, which became Davis’s political base. After the collapse of the Confederacy,..."

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Abraham Lincoln

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pp. 88-92

"Abraham Lincoln was born into a humble family in a log cabin in Kentucky in 1809, near Hodgenville, and he had the good fortune to remain in the state until he was seven, when his family moved westward, first across the Ohio River to Indiana, and later to Illinois, which now claims him as a native son. He became a lawyer,..."

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Harriet Beecher Stowe

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pp. 93-105

"Harriet Beecher Stowe was not a Kentucky writer, but she wrote the most influential book ever written in this country and set it in Kentucky. She did live close to Kentucky, just across the Ohio River in Cincinnati, where her husband taught in a theological seminary. Moreover, she apparently made a number of visits into..."

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Clara Rising

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pp. 106-108

"Kentucky’s own Clara Rising wrote a fact-filled novel about Kentucky’s dashing Confederate raider, John Hunt Morgan. In the Season of the Wild Rose resurrects her hero and clothes him in the burnished armor of doomed chivalry. (Another twentieth- century Kentucky novelist, Gene Markey, wrote about the family of one of..."

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Alfred Leland Crabb

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pp. 109-120

"No one has written more historical novels about the Civil War than Alfred Leland Crabb, who was born in Plum Springs, in Warren County, Kentucky, in 1916. Six of his novels are set in Tennessee, and only one-his most popular and best-takes..."

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Charles Bracelen Flood

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pp. 121-124

"General Robert E. Lee stood on a hilltop, studying the fog-covered woods ahead. Listening to the artillery fire and musketry, he tried to judge the progress of the crucial attack that his men were making. It was shortly after eight o’clock in the morning on Palm Sunday, April 9, 1865, and the shattered..."

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Allen Tate

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pp. 125-128

"Finally, we come to what is probably the most eloquent tribute to those who did not survive the Civil War, or any war, Allen Tate’s 'Ode to the Confederate Dead.' The poem contrasts egocentric, materialistic visitors to the cemetery, who cannot comprehend dedication to cause and duty, with the young men who are buried..."

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Politicians, Teachers, Preachers, and Occasional Poets

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pp. 129-131

"Throughout most of the nineteenth century most Kentucky writing was done by men and a few women whose vocation was elsewhere—politics, law, business, education, journalism, ministry, or soldiering. There were few if any professional writers. Except for writing connected with literary-based professions..."

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Julia A. Tevis

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pp. 132-134

"For many years we kept up the custom of crowning a 'Rose Queen' in May, and enjoying a holiday in the woods. Happily for the girls, I greeted the return of the festival day with a gladness almost equal to theirs, for I retained enough of the freshness of youth in my heart to enable me to participate..."

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Henry Clay

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pp. 135-137

"Kentucky’s most famous citizen before the Civil War was undoubtedly Henry Clay, a master lawyer and a master politician who offered himself in vain three times for the presidency. He was born in Virginia in 1777, moved to Lexington to practice law at twenty, and then became a Kentucky congressman and senator. His political..."

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J. Proctor Knott

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pp. 138-140

"Perhaps the most famous speech ever made in the U.S. Congress by a Kentuckian is J. Proctor Knott’s 'Duluth Speech,' which he delivered before a roaring audience on January 27, 1871, during a debate on a land grant that would pay for a railroad to the northern Minnesota town of Duluth. Knott would serve in Congress for..."

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Henry Watterson

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pp. 141

"Yesterday all that was mortal of poor, old Carrie Nation was laid to rest in an obscure Missouri churchyard. Poor, old Carrie Nation! She was a crazy Jane, wasn’t she? How many drunkards did she reform, how many would-be drunkards did she rescue, how many innocents turn away from the dram-shop?"

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Amelia B. Welby

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pp. 142-143

"The Sweet Singer of Louisville,' Amelia B. Welby, was born in Maryland in 1819 but moved to Louisville with her family when she was fifteen. In 1837, with his wonderful nose for finding female poets, the editor George D. Prentice invited her to publish a poem in his Louisville Journal. There was no stopping her after that, and soon she was..."

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William Shakespeare Hays

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pp. 144-145

"An unlikely poet is William Shakespeare Hays, whose day job was serving as captain of steamboats on the Ohio River. He penned the words for one of the most popular songs of the late nineteenth century—and it’s still sung today—“..."

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Thomas Johnson Jr.

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pp. 146-147

"Thomas Johnson Jr. was born in Virginia about 1760 and came to Danville in 1785. By 1789 he had published a collection of his poems, The Kentucky Miscellany, a satire on just about everything in Danville: the town itself, all the churches, most of the professions, and human nature. He is known as one of the two Drunken..."

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William F. Marvin

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pp. 148

"Another Drunken Poet of Danville was William F. Marvin (1804–1879), a shoemaker by day and a drunkard by night. He was a veteran of the Mexican War and published in 1851 The Battle of Monterey and Other Poems. A short poem from this collection will give a good sample of his wit and style."

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William O. Butler

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pp. 149-150

"William O. Butler was born in 1791 in Nicholasville, fought in the War of 1812, and was with General Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans. His most famous poem is not about the military. It is a sentimental tribute to a bygone era when ferries were the only bridges across rivers."

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Henry T. Stanton

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pp. 151-152

"Henry T. Stanton was born in 1834 in Virginia but moved with his parents to Maysville; he attended West Point and became a major in the Confederate Army. After the war he practiced law, journalism, and politics and, from time to time, wrote sentimental poems."

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Theodore O'Hara

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pp. 153-156

"Theodore O’Hara, remembered for one poem only, was probably born in Danville. He wrote a poem to honor the Kentuckians who had lost their lives in the Mexican War. '“The Bivouac of the Dead' is generally considered the greatest military poem in the English language, and it has come to encompass and celebrate the sacrifices of all men in..."

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Turning the Century:

"We are now about one hundred years through our Kentucky literary journey. In this chapter we will begin to see glimmers of major talent in the works of minor writers. To James Lane Allen and John Fox Jr. we owe gratitude for opening the great literary treasury of central Kentucky and the..."

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James Lane Allen

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pp. 158-165

"Both James Lane Allen and John Fox Jr. were a part of the literary movement following the Civil War known as local color, which exploited the culture and folkways of people in 'odd corners' of the nation. Most of Allen’s fiction and nonfiction portrays the gentry and their servants in the antebellum and postwar Bluegrass region..."

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John Fox Jr.

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pp. 166-173

"John Fox Jr. was from the Bluegrass country (he was born in 1862 at Stony Point, in Bourbon County), but he took his literary material from the Kentucky mountains, which he explored in the mid-1880s when he accompanied his father and brother on visits to their mining interests in the Cumberland Mountains. He began to study..."

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Annie Fellows Johnston

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pp. 174-176

"No one who has ever seen Shirley Temple in the 1935 screen version of The Little Colonel can forget the famous opening scene in which two members of an estranged family, the little colonel and her grandfather, meet each other; the old colonel is an unreconstructed rebel who has given his son and his right arm to the Southern..."

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Alice Hegan Rice

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pp. 177-178

"Alice Hegan Rice was born in Shelbyville in 1870, but she spent most of her life in Louisville, where she met and married a popular and good-looking poet, Cale Young Rice, whose own illustrious career was later eclipsed by his wife’s. In Louisville she also found the characters and the settings for a number of books, including the one..."

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Virginia Cary Hudson

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pp. 179-180

"A short drive from Louisville to Versailles will take you to a fine neighborhood, the home of a ten-year-old girl named Virginia. She is a delightful girl who goes to the best church in town and is somewhat of a snob, but you will like her anyway. Virginia’s clever little essays about life among the gentry were written about 1904, but it was..."

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John Uri Lloyd

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pp. 181-183

"John Uri Lloyd (1849–1936), a local-colorist of note, took as his literary domain his home turf of Boone and the surrounding counties of northern Kentucky; he was by profession a pharmaceutical chemist. Indeed, he was a prolific writer of scientific books and papers, but it was his Stringtown cycle of books, which chronicles the..."

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Eliza Calvert Hall

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pp. 184-187

"A character who became a Kentucky icon in the early twentieth century, along with Mrs. Wiggs and the Little Colonel, was Aunt Jane, the garrulous old woman who tells stories of olden times in the Pennyrile area of western Kentucky. Writing under her maiden name, Eliza Calvert Hall (she married a Mr. Obenchain) lived..."

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Irvin S. Cobb

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pp. 188-197

"West of Louisville, on the lower Ohio River, lived one of Kentucky’s best-known writers, Irvin S. Cobb. Born in 1876 in Paducah, in western Kentucky, Cobb wrote about his hometown with a deep, almost filial affection. There we find a typical Kentucky character from the early years of the twentieth century, the backwardlooking (he’s a Confederate veteran) but noble and gracious country judge who will..."

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Lucy Furman

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pp. 198-202

"Not far from Paducah, in Henderson, lived Lucy Furman. Except for the last five years, she lived her entire life in Kentucky. Born in Henderson in 1870, she lost both parents when she was very young and was reared by an aunt. Early in her twenties she began publishing stories in Century Magazine; in 1897 she published..."

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James H. Mulligan

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pp. 203-205

"There were poets scribbling all over Kentucky at the turn of the century, but the quality of the poems had not improved much since the earlier generations of poets, despite the fact that several of them achieved national reputations. New voices were beginning to emerge, but they were mostly weak and imitative. Isaac Joseph Schwartz..."

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Robert Burns Wilson

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pp. 206

"Robert Burns Wilson, who was born in Pennsylvania in 1850 but moved to Kentucky in the 1870s, fell in love with the rivers and creeks and landscapes of central Kentucky and used them for his double calling of painter and poet. He was a much..."

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Joseph S. Cotter Sr.

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pp. 207-209

"One of Kentucky’s first African American poets, Joseph S. Cotter Sr. was largely a man of his time, although he does attempt, sometimes successfully, to sound a new voice in Kentucky poetry. He was born in Nelson County in 1861; but when he was an infant his family moved to Louisville, where he grew up, became a prominent..."

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Madison Cawein

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pp. 210-212

"Madison Cawein was better known and respected in his lifetime than he is now. He was a Louisville native who, despite considerable critical praise, never could seem to sell enough copies of his thirty-six books of poetry to support himself, his family, and his magnificent house on Louisville’s St. James Court, which he finally had to..."

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Cale Young Rice

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pp. 213-214

"Cale Young Rice, an almost forgotten poet, was born in Dixon in 1872 and earned a master’s degree at Harvard; he then settled in Louisville and married Alice Hegan, whose literary reputation would soon eclipse his, despite his lifetime production of some thirty-five books of poetry, verse drama, fiction, and autobiography. Most..."

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From Arnow to Warren

"We will now visit with world-class Kentucky authors. Resuming our metaphor of a dinner table laden with food, we have partaken of the finger food and several side dishes and are now ready for the main courses. They are rich and delicious—food for the body and the soul. Not all the..."

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Elizabeth Madox Roberts

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pp. 216-231

"Elizabeth Madox Roberts was born in Perryville in 1881 but spent most of her life in nearby Springfield and the rolling fields and knobs of Boyle, Washington, and Nelson Counties. Here she found the landscapes, the people, and the history for her fiction and poetry. Descended from pioneers herself, she had for many years the..."

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Caroline Gordon

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pp. 232-236

"Caroline Gordon was born in 1895 in Todd County. She was homeschooled by her father, and she then attended his school for boys in nearby Clarksville, Tennessee. After graduating from Bethany College in West Virginia, she taught school for several years before becoming a critic for a newspaper in Chattanooga. Through her..."

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Ben Lucien Burman

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pp. 237-245

"Ben Lucien Burman was born in 1895 in Covington, Kentucky, just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati. He was a traveler and an adventurer and seemed to live more than one life. In his eighty-eight years he wrote twenty-two books, most of them based on his love for rivers and his travels around the world. During World..."

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Harriette Simpson Arnow

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pp. 246-260

"Harriette Simpson Arnow was a little woman who wrote a very big book, The Dollmaker, a classic of Kentucky writing and of American writing. When I met her some thirty years ago, I was astounded that such a modest and unpretentious woman had created one of the strongest and most enduring characters in American fiction."

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Robert Penn Warren

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pp. 261-276

"In this anthology Robert Penn Warren is surrounded by great writers, but he stands above them all. As a master of all genres—short stories, essays, novels, plays, poems, criticism, memoirs—he won three Pulitzer Prizes. For the depth and breadth and artistry of his achievements in writing, he should also have won the Nobel Prize for..."

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James Still

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pp. 277-288

"Nobody has written better poetry or prose about the southern mountains, particularly those in southeastern Kentucky, than James Still, the Alabama-born writer who, the people in Knott County used to say (according to Still), 'just come in and sot down.' Indeed, in 1932, in the depths of the Great Depression, he came in to be..."

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Jesse Stuart

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pp. 289-304

"Jesse Stuart was the first Kentucky writer I ever met in person. It was in the early 1960s, and I was a young assistant professor of English at the University of Florida. The head of the department had asked me to drive to the airport to pick up Jesse Stuart, who was scheduled to speak to our students. I was nervous about the prospect..."

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Janice Holt Giles

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pp. 305-310

"Janice Holt Giles was not a native Kentuckian; she was born in Arkansas in 1909 and grew up there and in Oklahoma. She married Otto Jackson Moore, with whom she had one daughter, Elizabeth. A couple of years after her divorce in 1939, she moved to Kentucky to work briefly as a church secretary and then as a secretary to the dean at..."

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Gwen Davenport

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pp. 311-318

"Not many authors have the talent or luck to create a fictional character who leaves the pages of a novel and assumes an independent life outside the book. Huck Finn and Scarlett O’Hara come to mind. Among Kentucky creations, there are the Little Colonel and Mrs. Wiggs and maybe a few others. What about Lynn Belvedere? He’s..."

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Thomas Merton

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pp. 319-327

"Thomas Merton’s life was of not much consequence until December 10, 1941, when he joined the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, commonly called the Trappists, entered the Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani, near Bardstown, Kentucky, and began a life based on prayer, silence, and work. His spiritual journey led..."

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Elizabeth Hardwick

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pp. 328-336

"A Lexington native, Elizabeth Hardwick is not a household name in Kentucky—not even in the households where books are often read. Blame it on her decision to move to New York as soon as she finished her master’s degree at the University of Kentucky in 1939 and then to maintain a rather cold distance from her family and..."

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Hollis Summers

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pp. 337-344

"Hollis Summers wrote short stories, novels, and poems and wrote them very well—with humor, irony, and master craftsmanship. The son of a Baptist minister, he grew up in parsonages all over Kentucky, from Eminence, his birthplace in 1916, to Louisville and Campbellsville and Madisonville. Much of the subject matter of his..."

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Cordia Greer Petrie

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pp. 345-348

"The Angeline Keaton stories by Cordia Greer Petrie are a variation of the ancient wise fool archetype: a naive country bumpkin goes to town (or court) speaking a rustic dialect but, under the cloak of ignorance and innocence, preaches good lessons to his or her betters. Sometimes he is a sidekick-servant to a master, such as..."

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John Jacob Niles

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pp. 349-350

"Perhaps the best known of Kentucky’s composer-collector-poets is John Jacob Niles, who was born in Louisville in 1892 into a musical family. After serving in World War I as a pilot, he became a popular singer in nightclubs and on concert stages. His favorite songs were the ballads, folksongs, and Christmas carols of the southern..."

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Edwin Carlile Litsey

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pp. 351

"Edwin Carlile Litsey was born in 1874 in Washington County; he grew up and lived the rest of his life in nearby Lebanon, in Marion County, where he worked in the Marion National Bank, first as a runner and later as a bank officer. He wrote romantic novels resembling those of Sir Walter Scott and composed verses that were much..."

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Sarah Litsey

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pp. 352-353

"Sarah Litsey, daughter of Edwin Carlile Litsey, was born in the home of her mother in Springfield in 1901. After a career as a teacher, she married Frank Wilson Nye in 1933 and lived the remainder of her life in Connecticut, writing novels and poetry,..."

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Cotton Noe

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pp. 354-357

"Cotton Noe was born in 1869 in Washington County near Springfield and attended Franklin College in Indiana, Cornell University, and the University of Chicago. After practicing law for several years, he became a professor and administrator, teaching at Williamsburg Institute, Lincoln Memorial University, and the University..."

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Olive Tilford Dargan

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pp. 358

"Olive Tilford Dargan was born in Grayson County near Leitchfield in 1869 but spent most of her life in New York and North Carolina. Her earliest writings were long, poetic dramas that are almost unread today, but her proletarian novels written..."

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The Contemporary Kentucky Writer

"We have now arrived at a good stopping place, a virtual banquet of writing where new selections become available every day. Here we will meet writers who are still active, mostly men and women born after 1925 whose writing, for the most part, has been done since 1950. You will..."

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Billy C. Clark

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pp. 360-363

"Billy C. Clark was born in 1928 into a mostly illiterate family of eight children near the junction of the Big Sandy and the Ohio Rivers at Catlettsburg. As he once wrote, 'In nineteen years of growing up in the valley, hunger was my most vivid...

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Walter Tevis

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pp. 364-368

"Walter Tevis was born in San Francisco in 1928, but when he was ten his family moved to Lexington. He received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Kentucky and taught English at high schools in Science Hill, Hawesville, Carlisle, and Irvine. He later taught at Northern Kentucky University and Ohio..."

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Ed McClanahan

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pp. 369-371

"To secure his fame for all time, Ed McClanahan probably didn’t need to write any other books after his first. The Natural Man (1983) is the sort of story that most writers dream about: a short novel that will surely be around when we, and most of the books of our times, will have turned to dust. It’s the natural, honest story of..."

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Pat Carr

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pp. 372-375

"Pat Carr taught at Western Kentucky University for only about seven years. She was born in Wyoming in 1932, educated at Rice and Tulane, from which she received a Ph.D., and taught at Rice, Texas Southern, Dillard, the University of New Orleans, the University of Texas at El Paso, and, from 1988 through the mid-1990s, at Western..."

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Jane Stuart

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pp. 376-384

"On August 22, 1942, a young Kentucky father in Riverton wrote to a friend in Cincinnati: 'Born to us a daughter, 9 1/2 pounds, Jessica Jane Stuart, King’s Daughters Hospital, Ashland, Ky., Aug. 20th, 11:14 A.M. . . . Our baby is one of the tallest..."

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Leon Driskell

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pp. 385-392

"Leon Driskell was barely sixty-two when he died in 1995. It was a short life for one so talented—as a fiction writer, a poet, and a teacher. A native of Georgia, he earned degrees from the University of Georgia and a Ph.D. from the University of Texas. He served in the U.S. Army from 1956 to 1958, and when he became a civilian..."

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Martha Bennett Stiles

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pp. 393-394

"In 1933 Martha Bennett Stiles was born a Virginian. She finally made it through the Cumberland Gap into the promised land of Kentucky in 1977, where she lives on a thoroughbred horse farm in Bourbon County and writes delightful stories for children and adolescents and novels for adults, including..."

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Wendell Berry

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pp. 395-404

"A perceptive comment by the critic Jack Hicks of the University of California at Davis is a good way to introduce Kentucky’s preeminent writer about the human relationship to the land and, indeed, all of nature. Berry’s own life and work, he says, 'has nourished and been nourished by an extraordinarily rich metaphor: man as..."

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Gurney Norman

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pp. 405-411

"Like a lot of readers, I was introduced to Gurney Norman through 'Divine Right’s Trip,' a rite-of-passage story that appeared in The Last Whole Earth Catalogue in 1971 and documented the flower children and the drug-drenched counterculture of the 1960s. The central character is a young man from Kentucky who goes west to..."

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Sallie Bingham

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pp. 412-418

"Sallie Bingham was born during the hugely destructive 1937 Ohio River flood that inundated most of downtown Louisville. Despite, and to some extent because of, the wealthy, powerful Bingham family into which she was born, she became a gifted writer of short stories, novels, poetry, and plays. As a successful writer she has in..."

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Sue Grafton

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pp. 419-429

"Kinsey Millhone may not yet be as well known as Poe’s Auguste Dupin, Christie’s Miss Marple, or Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, but give her time. Her creator, Sue Grafton, a Louisville native born in 1940 now living half the year in California and the other half back home, has cast Kinsey as the hero and private investigator par excellence in..."

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Hal Charles

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pp. 430-433

"Harold Blythe and Charlie Sweet, two professors of English at Eastern Kentucky University who write as Hal Charles, have made quite a name for themselves among detective and mystery story lovers, from readers of..."

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Bobbie Ann Mason

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pp. 434-454

"Bobbie Ann Mason may not have as many murders and high crimes in her books as Sue Grafton, but the stories, novels, and memoirs she has based on the people and places in her home turf of Graves County are just as dramatic and interesting. I became aware of her work in 1980, when a friend called to tell me about a short..."

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Joe Ashby Porter

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pp. 455-466

"Joe Ashby Porter’s main piece of Kentucky ground is east and a bit north of Mason’s, but Porter’s people are more than likely to be outlaws who inhabit a Gothic universe of murder and mayhem and revenge. If you were to meet the mild-mannered, attractive, well-groomed Porter, you might be surprised that he has fathered such..."

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Sena Jeter Naslund

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pp. 467-478

"In 1988, when William Ward published his nearly comprehensive study of Kentucky writing, Sena Jeter Naslund was not even mentioned in a footnote. The reason, I’m sure, is that despite the fact that she had already written and published many stories, she had no book in print. Indeed, her first book of short..."

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Lucinda Dixon Sullivan

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pp. 479-480

"Lucinda Dixon Sullivan, a very talented Kentucky-born latecomer to the high art of writing good fiction, was once a student of Sena Jeter Naslund’s in the Spalding University writing program. In this elegant and sad story of passion, murder, and salvation set in the fully realized towns of Milan and Hickman, you will find an..."

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Michael Dorris

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pp. 481-484

"In 1997 Michael Dorris ended his too-short life alone in a motel room in New Hampshire, estranged from his wife and accused of indiscretions with his children. It was a sad conclusion for the talented writer, born in Louisville in 1945 and reared by his devoted mother and aunt. He graduated from St. Xavier High School in..."

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Linda Bruckheimer

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pp. 485-487

"Americans have been going west since the first Europeans landed on the East Coast and began looking for a better life beyond the sunset. Until the 1890s, when the frontier was officially closed, there was always a place to go. For a long time, Kentucky was the West; then it filled up. Even Daniel Boone said it was getting too..."

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Ralph Cotton

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pp. 488-492

"Ralph Cotton, a native of Louisville and the author of a dozen and more novels about the Old West, takes Jeston Nash, the hero of his trilogy of Western novels, through a series of fast-action adventures. This is the original Old West of Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Texas, and the time is the lawless era between..."

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Gayl Jones

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pp. 493-496

"The elusive, reclusive, and highly praised author Gayl Jones was born in 1949 in Lexington, the daughter of a cook and a housewife. She attended Connecticut College and earned a Ph.D. at Brown University; she then taught at the University of Michigan, which she left to move with her new husband, Bob Higgins, to Paris,..."

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George Ella Lyon

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pp. 497-501

"Most people think of George Ella Lyon as an author of children’s books. Indeed, she is, but she’s much more. She’s a poet, a teacher, a playwright, and an author of books for readers of all ages. Hailing from Harlan County, she holds degrees from Centre College, the University of Arkansas, and Indiana University, where she wrote her..."

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John Hay

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pp. 502-510

"Although John Hay has published four popular children’s books and several superb stories in the Sewanee Review and other periodicals, he is surely one of Kentucky’s best-kept secrets. Born in Frankfort in 1944, he grew up on nearby Scotland Farm caring for horses. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of the South, a..."

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Silas House

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pp. 511-515

"Silas House of Lily, in the Kentucky mountains, was one of the biggest literary discoveries of the late twentieth century in Kentucky—and American—letters. The publication of his first novel, Clay’s Quilt, in 2001 was greeted with almost universal enthusiasm and approval. Lee Smith called him..."

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Dwight Allen

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pp. 516-525

"Dwight Allen, with one novel to his credit at the beginning of his writing career, is a man who has been involved in the literary world for some time, studying the art of writing at Iowa and practicing a bit of writing and fact-checking at the..."

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Crystal Wilkinson

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pp. 526-531

"A bright new African American voice in Kentucky is that of Crystal Wilkinson, who describes herself in Blackberries, Blackberries as 'a black, country girl' who 'grew up in rural Kentucky, and teaches creative writing.' Born in Hamilton, Ohio, she went to live with her Wilkinson grandparents on their sixty-four-acre tobacco farm in..."

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Barbara Kingsolver

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pp. 532-548

"Barbara Kingsolver, one of Kentucky’s most distinguished contemporary authors, was born in Annapolis, Maryland, in 1955, but she moved when she was two with her family to Carlisle, Kentucky, where she grew up. She holds degrees in biology and English from Depauw University and the University of Arizona. She became a..."

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Chris Holbrook

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pp. 549-556

"Chris Holbrook is an award-winning young writer who grew up in Soft Shell in Knott County, but he has lived long enough to see and chronicle the changes that have come to Appalachia in his time—some good and some not. Many of his characters leave home to find better jobs and lives elsewhere, then return hopefully to a..."

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Gayle Compton

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pp. 557-560

"Gayle Compton was born and grew up in a coal camp in Pike County. With lively humor, good will, and respect, he writes poems and stories about the mountain people and their way of life, including the ones who move to Detroit and sometimes have difficulty communicating with their loved ones back home."

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Chris Offutt

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pp. 561-566

"In the August 16, 1998, issue of the Lexington Herald-Leader, Art Jester, the book editor, announced excitedly that Chris Offutt had moved back to his native Rowan County, calling him 'the outstanding Kentucky-born writer of his generation.' He..."

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The Dramatic Tradition in Kentucky

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pp. 567-569

"This is a short chapter because Kentucky has produced relatively few good dramatists. Playhouses in Kentucky, especially on college campuses, originally preferred to present plays written by Greek, English, or European playwrights (such as Sophocles, Aeschylus, Shakespeare, Marlowe, Congreve,..."

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John Patrick

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pp. 570-571

"Four twentieth-century playwrights who have enjoyed international recognition are Marsha Norman, Jane Martin, George C. Wolfe, and John Patrick, whose story begins here. Born John Patrick Goggan in 1906 in Louisville, he wrote plays that had little to do with his native state. He was abandoned by his parents when he was..."

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Marsha Norman

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pp. 572-573

"Marsha Norman, who was born in Louisville in 1947, won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1983 for ’Night, Mother. After she earned degrees from Agnes Scott College and the University of Louisville, she worked with mentally disturbed children..."

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Jane Martin

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pp. 574-575

"Actors Theatre of Louisville is the home theater for the elusive Jane Martin, the pen name of a playwright who, so far, has refused to identify herself (or himself ). All we know is that her scripts appear mysteriously at ATL from time to time and are..."

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George C. Wolfe

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pp. 576-580

"In New York, Frankfort-born George Wolfe was the talk of the town for much of the 1990s as he wrote, produced, and directed some of the most daring and successful shows in years, such as..."

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Mary Anderson

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pp. 581-584

"There is one area in American theater history to which Kentucky has made a significant contribution—actors for the stage, the radio, the big screen, and the little screen. Who doesn’t know these names: Patricia Neal, Victor Mature, Tom Cruise, Ned Beatty, Ashley Judd, Irene Dunne, Harry Dean Stanton, Una Merkel, Arthur..."

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Contemporary Nonfiction

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pp. 585-587

"At this stop on our Kentucky journey, I have prepared a feast of nonfiction to satisfy every palate. Here are writings for your enjoyment ranging from Dr. Thomas Clark’s description of pioneer life to the sportswriter Jerry Brewer’s homecoming piece. There are even a few Kentuckians who..."

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Thomas D. Clark

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pp. 588-593

"The dean of Kentucky historians, Thomas Dionysius Clark, was born in Mississippi in 1903. After a brief sojourn in Lexington in the late 1920s to pick up a master’s degree, he had the good sense to move to Kentucky permanently in 1931, remaining there until his death on June 28, 2005. What he accomplished as Kentucky’s..."

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John Fetterman

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pp. 594-600

"Another capable guide to the hills and mountains of southeastern Kentucky is John Fetterman, the late newspaperman and photographer. In the 1960s Fetterman recorded the hardscrabble lives of the mountain people who lived along Stinking Creek in Knox County, a creek possibly named for the foul odors caused by the..."

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Kathy Kahn

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pp. 601-605

"Kathy Kahn is a freelance journalist, author, community organizer, and country singer from the mountains of northern Georgia. Kahn conducted a series of interviews for her oral history..."

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Patricia Neal

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pp. 606-611

"Patricia Neal is a celebrated screen actress who hailed from Packard, now an abandoned coal town in Whitley County, on the Tennessee state line. Here is Packard, where she was born in 1926 and which she left as a teenager, as she remembers it in her autobiography,..."

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Verna Mae Slone

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pp. 612-615

"Verna Mae Slone, who was born in 1914, has lived all her life in Knott County, where she wrote her first book, In Remembrance (1977), when she was sixty-three. Since then she has published several more books of memoirs and autobiographical fiction, including..."

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Linda Scott DeRosier

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pp. 616-622

"Linda Scott DeRosier has deep roots in Appalachia reaching back to the early 1800s. She was born in a log house at Two-Mile Creek in the mid-twentieth century and grew up in a closely knit family and community, which has been lovingly and realistically detailed in her memoir,..."

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Harry M. Caudill

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pp. 623-625

"One of the most eloquent voices of the southern mountains was the Whitesburg lawyer, legislator, and author Harry M. Caudill, who was born in Letcher County in 1922 and died in 1990. Late in his life he taught history at the University of Kentucky."

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David Dick

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pp. 626-629

"In recent years David Dick, the former CBS correspondent, journalist, educator, and author, and his wife, Eulalie Dick, have traipsed all over Kentucky in pursuit of interesting characters to write about. Although born in 1930 in Cincinnati, he moved with his mother to her native Bourbon County when he was eighteen months old."

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Muhammad Ali, with Richard Durham

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pp. 630-637

"One man who needs no introduction is Muhammad Ali, a man of strength, intelligence, cunning, and principle who rose from a black ghetto in West Louisville to become not only one of the best-known athletes of the century but ultimately a global spokesman for peace, tolerance, and reconciliation."

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Virginia Honchell Jewell

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pp. 638-641

"In the far western Kentucky county of Hickman, Virginia Honchell Jewell did an unusual profile of her adopted county—'a collection of historical sidelights,' she calls her book, Lick Skillet and Other Tales of Hickman County (1986). She graduated from Murray State University with a degree in journalism and has been a reporter,..."

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Jo Anna Holt Watson

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pp. 642-648

"Jo Anna Holt Watson, or 'Pig,' as she is nicknamed by Joe Collins, the black majordomo of Grassy Springs Farm, is the narrator of the memoir A Taste of the Sweet Apple (2004), which reads like an enchanted novel. Her eccentric and delightful family has lived on this magical piece of Kentucky for generations, and she had the..."

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Harlan Hubbard

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pp. 649-655

"Harlan Hubbard lived an independent life in the woods longer than did HenryDavid Thoreau, who spent only a little more than two years at Walden Pond. Bornin 1900 in Bellevue, across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, Hubbard was a lonerwho didn’t marry until he was forty-three; then he and his new wife, Anna Eikenhout,..."

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Hunter S. Thompson

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pp. 656-659

"Hunter Thompson invented what he called Gonzo, or Outlaw, Journalism, a kind of irreverent, in-your-face, iconoclastic journalistic aberration, and for that reason he is a well-known writer. Actually, it can be a very effective form of reportage. In..."

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Guy Davenport

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pp. 660-665

"Everybody said that Guy Davenport was a genius. He even won one of the MacArthur genius grants to prove it. Certainly, he was one of the most radically original, surprising, witty, quirky, learned, difficult, and sensual writers of his time. Born in South Carolina in 1927, he received undergraduate degrees from Duke and Oxford,..."

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Joseph Phelps

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pp. 666-668

"The quest for ultimate meanings is not restricted, of course, to seekers like monks, ministers, rabbis, priests, and so on; but they are the ones who are most likely to write on the subject. Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk at Gethsemani, near Bardstown, was perhaps the best-known spiritual writer in Kentucky in the second..."

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Paul Quenon

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pp. 669-673

"The religious life, whether clerical or lay, is not all pious seriousness. Humor, which is surely a divine gift that humans need to endure the vicissitudes of their lives, is as much a part of life lived inside a monastery as it is outside. Here is an excerpt from the diary kept by Brother Paul Quenon, one of the novices who studied under Father..."

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Abraham Flexner

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pp. 674-676

"Not everyone who has lived in Kentucky over the past two hundred years has been the stereotypical white, Christian male, yet, except for the slave narratives of antebellum Kentucky, few minority voices have been heard in our literature. In the midnineteenth century, large numbers of Irish, German, and Jewish immigrants began..."

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Alanna Nash

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pp. 677-679

"Country music is a big business in Kentucky. Bill Monroe, Randy Atcher, John Jacob Niles, Loretta Lynn, Ricky Skaggs, Tom T. Hall, Pee Wee King—these are some of the Kentuckians who have made big names for themselves as composers and performers in country and folk music. Probably the most popular performer in..."

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Wade Hall

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pp. 680-691

"The abolition of slavery in 1863 and 1865 did not make the freedmen and freedwomen full citizens of the United States. It took another hundred years for full equality to become the law of the land. Two of Louisville’s prominent African American leaders after World War II were Lyman Tefft Johnson and Mae Street Kidd."

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Anne McCarty Braden

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pp. 692-695

"Black people were always in the forefront of the battles that freed them and later earned them their citizenship rights. From William Lloyd Garrison and John Brown to the Louisville journalists and civil libertarians Carl and Anne McCarty Braden, however, many white people of conscience and goodwill have been their able supporters."

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Gerogia Davis Powers

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pp. 696-702

"Like her friend Mae Street Kidd, Georgia Davis Powers was active in politics, and she served in the Kentucky General Assembly from 1968 to 1989. She was the first woman and the first African American to serve in the state senate. She was born in 1923 in Springfield and later came to Louisville to attend and graduate from both..."

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Cass Irvin

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pp. 703-708

"Cass Irvin is a Louisville quadriplegic who uses a wheelchair. Her brave struggles for access and fair treatment are detailed in her inspiring autobiography, Home Bound (2004). The passage below shows how the tables are turned when, disabled though she is, she is able to help her father at..."

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Fenton Johnson

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pp. 709-715

"Fenton Johnson is as much a daring pioneer of unexplored wilderness as Daniel Boone ever was. He is an openly gay man who exposes himself to homophobia and twisted religious zealots who write letters to the newspaper saying,..."

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Jerry Brewer

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pp. 716-718

"Jerry Brewer, a Paducah native who joined the Courier-Journal’s staff as a sports writer in late 2004, was clear about his feelings for the state. This is an October 2004 column in which he introduces himself to his fellow Kentuckians and tells of..."

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A Shower of Poets

"In its annual anniversary issue in February 2005, the New Yorker devoted 14 lines to a loose sonnet (irregular iambic pentameter and a couple of near rhymes) by Seamus Heaney, the Irish poet who won the Nobel Prize for Literature shortly after his visit to Bellarmine University in 1994."

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Albert Stewart

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pp. 720-721

"It is fitting that we begin our poets’ tour of Kentucky with Albert Stewart, born in 1914 at Yellow Mountain in Knott County. He studied at Hindman Settlement School, Berea College, and the University of Kentucky; he later taught at Kentucky, Morehead State University, and Alice Lloyd College. He founded and for twelve..."

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John Filiatreau

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pp. 722-723

"Look, he does not write. Cut off his head. Better he should turn up somewhere dead than live without the words that used to dance down..."

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Betty Layman Receveur

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pp. 724-725

"Betty Layman Receveur was first and last a poet, whether she called a piece of her writing poetry or a historical novel. She was a proud seventh-generation Kentuckian and showed her pride in poetry and prose, including this poem about an ancestor looking out from a tintype portrait."

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Jonathan Greene

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pp. 726

"Although not a native Kentuckian, Jonathan Greene has contributed significantly to Kentucky’s literature as a poet and as a publisher. His Gnomon Press, based in Frankfort, has published poetry and prose by some of Kentucky’s best-known authors. His poem about a family photograph album for sale at an auction focuses on..."

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Miriam Woolfolk

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pp. 727-728

"Small hand in yours, we caught the train as hissing steam swirled to and fro. The scenery blurred through drops of rain that pelted on the thick window..."

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Aleda Shirley

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pp. 729-730

"In this poem Aleda Shirley remembers a summer night in Oakland, in Warren County, when she was a girl and surrounded by her loved ones—and ice cream, a moon, and a mimosa tree."

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Virginia Pile

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pp. 731-732

"Under the dark cedars the yard is starred with June fireflies. Brother’s handsome face is grimaced with laughter. He crushes fireflies..."

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Jeffrey Skinner

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pp. 733

"Jeffrey Skinner, a husband and father, paints a Louisville street scene with people that he knows will not stay—except in his poem. Skinner is a professor of English and the director of creative writing at the University of Louisville. His collections..."

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Lee Pennington

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pp. 734

"A native of Eastern Kentucky, Lee Pennington now lives and writes in Middletown and is a longtime professor of English at Jefferson Community College, where he also nurtures new poets. This poem is a dirge for the death of spring and for one who loved the seasons of life."

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Leonard Slade

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pp. 735-736

"Formerly a professor of English at Kentucky State University in Frankfort, Leonard Slade was born in North Carolina and now writes poetry and teaches in Albany, New York. He has published numerous collections of poems, including..."

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Catherine Sutton

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pp. 737-738

"Catherine Sutton’s poem is a lament for the African American women who washed the clothes and served the whites of Louisville in 1880—and for those who still do. She has been a member of the faculty and staff of Bellarmine University for many years."

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Frank X Walker

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pp. 739-741

"Founder of the Affrilachian writers’ movement, which is composed of African American writers of the Appalachian Mountains, Frank X Walker is a poet and teacher whose work is a model and an inspiration for younger poets. The first selection,..."

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Jane Mayhall

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pp. 742

"A native of Louisville, Jane Mayhall has lived in New York City most of her life. When she writes poems, however, she often returns to her girlhood and the common domestic rituals that have been seared into her memory."

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Ron Seitz

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pp. 743-744

"A Louisville native and former Bellarmine University professor, Ron Seitz, and his wife, Sally, were close friends of the Trappist monk and writer Thomas Merton, whose untimely death in 1968 left memories and a void that Seitz has turned into numerous poems. The first poem is a canticle to his lost friend."

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R. Meir Morton

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pp. 745-746

"Victor Mature, the original Hollywood 'hunk' was from Louisville. R. Meir Morton of Louisville decided to do an imaginary interview with the actor. First, she did some research, and then she cast the results as a monologue; and so we have her poem. It’s amazing how much a good poet can get into a short poem."

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Jane Gentry

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pp. 747-748

"You’ve seen the gardens. An elderly couple has moved into town to be close to their children. They miss the earth’s seasonal rotation of seeds into fruit and more. So, bit by bit, they bring the farm to town, complete with a rooster. What you get is a contented couple and a fine poem by Jane Gentry of Versailles."

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Eve Spears

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pp. 749-750

"Eve Spears grew up in Jesse Stuart country in northeast Kentucky, but she lived most of her life in Georgetown, Kentucky, where her husband, Woodridge, taught at the college. She grew up in a culture in which the folkways of growing food and cooking, of worshiping and playing, were their way of life. Ballads and folksongs..."

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Woodridge Spears

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pp. 751

"The second half of the Spears writing team is Woodridge Spears, who, like his wife, is from Jesse Stuart country. His poetry tends to be academic and occasionally laden with remote allusions, but this one is just as dark and foreboding as his wife’s poem."

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Quentin Howard

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pp. 752-753

"Quentin Howard is one of the three Pikeville poets gathered here, so named for their frequent publishing in the Pikeville College literary magazine, Twigs, edited by Bruce Bennett Brown. In this selection Howard accompanies a Vietnam War veteran home on a train that carries the ghosts of veterans of more than one war."

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Lillie D. Chaffin

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pp. 754-755

"Born in Pike County in 1925, where she lived most of her life, Lillie D. Chaffin is perhaps best known as an author of children’s books, including Bear Weather (1969), a verse story about a mother bear and her cub in winter, which was selected as one of the fifteen best juvenile books of 1969. She also wrote deceptively simple and cynical..."

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Carolyn Wilford Fuqua

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pp. 756-757

"Carolyn Wilford Fuqua of Hopkinsville found inspiration for this poem in the Bible, specifically in Second Samuel 14:25–26: 'Now in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty; from the sole of his foot even to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him. And when he polled [trimmed] his head—..."

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Reid Bush

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pp. 758

"Reid Bush was born across the Ohio River in southern Indiana. He lived in California as a youth, then went to school in Arkansas, Indiana, and Kentucky. He has lived in Kentucky since 1969 and has been married to a Kentuckian for a long time. He has children living in five states and Malaysia. He was an English teacher at..."

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Bruce Bennett Brown

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pp. 759-760

"One of the least-known of Kentucky’s important literary figures is the reclusive Bruce Bennett Brown of Zebulon, near Pikeville, in Pike County. In the 1960s and 1970s at Pikeville College he was editing..."

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Jim Wayne Miller

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pp. 761-762

"No Kentucky poet has been more beloved than Jim Wayne Miller, a native of North Carolina who attended Berea College and, after graduating with a Ph.D. in German from Vanderbilt, spent the rest of his career at Western Kentucky University, where he wrote poetry about the southern Appalachians and where he promoted and supported..."

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Logan English

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pp. 763-764

"Logan English was Bourbon County’s poet-errant, a man who loved Kentucky but who could never live for very long in the land that formed and nourished him and provided him with material for his poetry, plays, and songs. He was a strolling player, a singing poet, a lyrical dramatist, a thespian whose love for the state lasted as..."

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Maureen Morehead

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pp. 765-766

"One of Kentucky’s most talented poets, Maureen Morehead writes about agonizing emotions and early loss with perfect control. She holds graduate degrees in English and composition from the University of Louisville and teaches in the Jefferson County..."

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Cora Lucas

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pp. 767-768

"A native of Louisville, Cora Lucas wrote her first poem when she was seven. Her mother’s tragic early death and her father’s piano performances (he was a piano graduate of the Conservatory Verdi in Milan) are recurring themes in her poetry. The wife of a Louisville surgeon, she and her husband, a soldier, lived through..."

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Leatha Kendrick

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pp. 769

"Leatha Kendrick, the mother of three daughters, lives with her husband in eastern Kentucky. Her poetry has been published widely in such periodicals as Connecticut Review and the American Voice. She has taught creative writing at the University of..."

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Charlie Hughes

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pp. 770

"Charlie Hughes is a Lexington poet, a writer of fiction, and the editor of Wind Magazine, the venerable periodical founded years ago by the indefatigable Quentin Howard, who put his resources and his life into one of the best of our literary journals. His is a tradition being honored and built upon by Hughes. The dark,..."

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John Spalding Gatton

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pp. 771-772

"A native of Louisville and a professor of English at Bellarmine University, John Spalding Gatton is an academic writer who also writes occasional poems, like these heartrending lines about the early death of a friend."

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Charles Semones

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pp. 773-775

"Charles Semones would have been a major poet no matter where he was born. Fortunately for us, he was born in 1937 in Mercer County, which over the past forty and more years he has written into a poetic landscape that he calls 'the Sabbath Country,' which is as real and as vivid as Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County in..."

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Roberta Scott Bunnell

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pp. 776-777

"A friend once suggested that Roberta Scott Bunnell was a poor man’s Dorothy Parker. I said, 'Roberta can write rings around Parker.' No one can write bittersweet poems about love and life with more incisiveness than Roberta Scott Bunnell. Born in 1910 in Paducah, she attended Logan College in Russellville and later the University..."

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Dot Gibbs

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pp. 778

"Welcome to the enchanted world of Louisville’s Dot Gibbs, who, while her husband was busy as an executive with a large printing company, spent her time seeing God in such ordinary things as sweet pea vines, dragonfly wings, and green peas in pods. Her companion in literary history may well be William Blake—the one who wrote..."

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Patricia Ramsey

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pp. 779-780

"Patricia Ramsey is a native of Barbourville and grew up among Elizabethan ballads and folklore transplanted to Appalachia. She has taught in the public schools of Jefferson County, served as a counselor at Indiana University Southeast, and been a poetry therapist at the Southern Indiana Mental Health and Guidance Center in..."

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Prentice Baker

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pp. 781

"A native of Leitchfield, in Grayson County, Prentice Baker was an office worker at the L&N Railroad by day and a poet by night. Although he has lived in the city most of his life, his poems recall his boyhood and youth in rural Kentucky."

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Mary O'Dell

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pp. 782

"As I’m sure Mary O’Dell will agree, you’re never too young or too old to write and enjoy poetry. Every age has its gifts and its visions. O’Dell, a native Appalachian now living in Louisville, is president of Green River Writers, an important support..."

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Mary Ann Taylor-Hall

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pp. 783

"Novelist and short-story writer Mary Ann Taylor-Hall of Sadieville is also a very fine poet, as the following imagist-tinged, philosophical poem will show. Responding to the aborted life of a bird and the plaintive night cries of animals in distress or dying, she experiences only temporary consolation in the thought that..."

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Ann Jonas

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pp. 784-785

"Ann Jonas is a poet’s poet—one whose craftsmanship is sure, whose focus is certain, and whose control is total, whether she is writing about urban life or a casket maker in Wendover, in the mountains of eastern Kentucky."

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Vivian Shipley

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pp. 786-787

"Vivian Shipley was born in Chicago but grew up in Kentucky in and around Hardin County, where her family were farmers—'hillbillies,' she fondly calls them. She was educated at the University of Kentucky in the 1960s and received her Ph.D. from Vanderbilt in 1975. Since 1969 she has taught at Southern..."

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Charles Williams

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pp. 788

"Munfordville attorney Charles Williams, who holds degrees from Duke University and the University of Kentucky, finds poems in his travels, his law practice, and the flora and fauna of his native Hart County."

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Donald Vish

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pp. 789

"Donald Vish is a lawyer, a nature lover, and a photographer who, he says, enjoys the company of good books and good friends. He has, to my knowledge, just one book to his credit; but it is a delight. Prideful Violets (2001) contains thimble-sized poems filled with wit and wisdom, plus short, witty paragraphs,..."

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Sarah Gorham

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pp. 790-791

"Sarah Gorham is a fine publisher and a fine poet. Her poems have appeared in such places as the Nation, Paris Review, Poetry, and Antaeus. She has also published several collections:

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Boynton Merrill Jr.

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pp. 792-793

"Born in Boston in 1925, Boynton Merrill Jr. served in the navy during World War II, then earned a degree from Dartmouth College. In the early 1950s he moved to Henderson, Kentucky, to manage his mother’s family farm. He soon became involved..."

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Hortense Flexner

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pp. 794

"Hortense Flexner, who spent most of her life in Louisville, was a graduate of the University of Michigan and worked as a journalist early in her career. She wrote several competent plays and popular children’s books, and her collections of poetry—..."

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Joy Bale Boone

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pp. 795

"A native of Evanston, Illinois, Joy Bale Boone married Dr. Garnett Bale of Elizabethtown in the early 1930s and lived most of her life in Kentucky. She became one of the state’s leading advocates for the prevention and treatment of heart disease and for women’s rights, as well as a major promoter of Kentucky’s literary culture. In the early 1960s..."

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James Baker Hall

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pp. 796-798

"James Baker Hall was named Kentucky poet laureate in 2001. A native of Lexington born in 1935, he has been a poet, novelist, photographer, and professor of writing at the University of Kentucky. In addition to his novels, he has published short stories..."

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Joe Survant

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pp. 799

"Selected as the Kentucky poet laureate for 2003–5, Joe Survant, a graduate of the University of Kentucky and the University of Delaware, teaches contemporary literature and creative writing at Western Kentucky University. He has published three..."

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Richard Taylor

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pp. 800-801

"A professor of English at Kentucky State University in Frankfort, Richard Taylor also owns a bookstore and writes poetry, including Bluegrass (1975) and Earth Bones (1979). Girty (1977) is a long narrative poem about a renegade white man who went to live with the Seneca Indians and took on their ways and attitudes against..."

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Tony Crunk

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pp. 802-803

"Tony Crunk is one of three young Kentucky poets who have won the coveted Yale Younger Poets competition in recent years. A native of Hopkinsville, Crunk earned degrees from Centre College, the University of Kentucky, and the University of Virginia. He has taught at the University of Montana and Murray State University..."

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Davis McCombs

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pp. 804-805

"When he won the Yale Younger Poets contest, Davis McCombs was working as a guide and 'parking-lot guy' at Mammoth Cave National Park, near his home in Munfordville. He was somewhat overqualified for his work, with degrees from Harvard and the University of Virginia and a writing fellowship from Stanford. His..."

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Maurice Manning

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pp. 806-807

"A recent winner of the Yale Younger Poets prize is Maurice Manning, a native of Danville, with degrees from Earlham College, the University of Kentucky, and the University of Alabama, where he received his M.F.A. in 1999. He now teaches at..."

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Kathleen Driskell

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pp. 808

"A young poet who is beginning to make a name for herself as a writer, a teacher, and a promoter of writers and writing is Kathleen Driskell, a professor of English at Spalding University in Louisville and a founder of the Kentucky Writers’ Coalition."

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Joe Bolton

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pp. 809

"I’d like to pay homage to a young man who, sadly, did not survive the demons, the passions, the impulses that perhaps gave him the sensibility to become a great poet. In his twenty-eight years, however, he wrote some very moving and astounding poems. Joe Bolton was born in Cadiz in 1961 and studied at the University of..."

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Abigail Gramig

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pp. 810-811

"If Abigail Gramig is any indication, the new generation of Kentucky poets is ready to assert itself. Still in her early twenties and a recent graduate of Bellarmine University, she has already demonstrated remarkable maturity and originality in her first..."

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Frederick Smock

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pp. 812

"Frederick Smock is a professor of English and writer-in-residence at Bellarmine University, where Abigail Gramig was his student. Still a young man himself (he was born in 1954), he is a vital link between the aging contemporary poets of this gathering and the fledgling writers in his classes waiting to put their inspired words into..."

Appendix: Biographies

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pp. 813-860


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pp. 861-866

Copyrights and Permissions

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pp. 867-872


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pp. 873-880

E-ISBN-13: 9780813128993
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813123769

Page Count: 896
Publication Year: 2005