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Former Ky. Poet Laureate Frank X. Walker to speak at Paducah's Clemens Fine Arts Center

Kentucky author and poet Frank X. Walker – the first Black Poet Laureate to serve the state – is speaking at West Kentucky Community & Technical College’s Clemens Fine Arts Center Monday as a part of the institution’s Black History Month programming.

The event – which is set to start at 7 p.m. – is free and open to the public.

The Danville native has written a number of poetry collections that address civil rights, social injustice and – most recently – romance.

His 2013 collection, “Turn Me Loose: the Unghosting of Medgar Evers,” won an NAACP Image Award – propelling Walker to notoriety in nationwide literary circles. The book was inspired by Walker’s shock that students in his English and African-American Studies courses at the University of Kentucky were unfamiliar with Medgar Evers – the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement activist who was murdered in 1963 outside his home in Jackson.

“They came up with MLK and JFK and Robert Kennedy, and then they stopped. I have over 100 kids [in my classes], and none of them mentioned Medgar Evers,” Walker said. “That felt like a shame to me that they'd have such a gaping hole in their knowledge about the Civil Rights [Movement] era. I was trying to write at least one poem that tried to fill a hole with that gap but it ended up being a whole book.”

Walker, a lover of comic books and superheroes, has also curated an exhibit on depictions of Black people in the medium – including action figures of African-American heroes and comics drawn and written by Black artists.

His latest book, “Love House,” saw the poet shift from political and racial themes to affairs of the heart. Inspired by a challenge from his wife, he used “Love House” as an opportunity to expand his writing style.

“I was thinking that, well, ‘I have a lot of love forms.’ And then she said, ‘Like what?’ And I realized that she meant something more romantic,” Walker said. “So some of the poems in this collection are a little spicy, but there's also some poems that talk about the challenges of love.”

Hurt is a Livingston County native and has been a political consultant for a little over a decade. He currently hosts a local talk show “River City Presents”, produced by Paducah2, which features live musical performances, academic discussion, and community spotlights.
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