For Jane Gentry Vance, 1941 – 2014

Jane Gentry Vance Hunting for a Christmas Tree after Dark

A sudden mildness in the cold field.
Scraps of snow still strewn on the hillside.
The net of stars cast out overhead.
The shapes of old cedars come toward me
familiar as loved bodies approaching
from a long way off.
The creek in a hurry, as full of itself
as a zipper, the slow-melting snow.

I can hardly make out the rock fence
wavering up the hill, cold stone
on cold stone, stacked together
by unknown hands so many years ago.

How grateful I am for this moment of peace
my body has made with gravity, this
pulling things out of their places
and holding them in,
like Orion the hunter, who, when I blink,
seems to throw his leg over the low fence
of the horizon and climb into this bound with me.

Up ahead, looking for the one perfect tree,
my cousin John. His lantern bobs through
the dark meadow. He raises the globe
of light over and over in prospect.
I hang back, feeling rich in the black
waste, safe in his bowl of earth,
with rocks outcropping in the flattened grass,
trees wet, dirt sweetened by the downhill run-off
of all fear. Though the interstate throbs
and the town lights bleed into the blot
of circling trees, from here the stars redeem
the dark that makes them shine.

from What Comes Down to Us: 25 Contemporary Kentucky Poets. link

Bourbon Desserts: Always-in-the-Pantry Bourbon Pound Cake

Always-in-the-Pantry Bourbon Pound Cake

Always-in-the-Pantry Bourbon Pound Cake

“Bourbon does for me what the piece of cake did for Proust.”—Walker Percy

Why not combine the two?

What better way to celebrate National Bourbon Heritage Month than with this home-cook staple from Lynn Marie Hulsman’s Bourbon Desserts.

Introducing the recipe, Hulsman says, “The loveliest thing about about pound cake, though, is that it’s rootsy.” This is the kind of recipe that anyone with a well stocked home kitchen can make at just about any time. That’s not to say, however, that making a truly inspired pound cake doesn’t take a good deal of love and attention.

With that said: break out the whisks and get to baking. When you’re bourbon-loving friends drop by, you’ll be more than ready to entertain with this delicious cake.

Always-in-the-Pantry Bourbon Pound Cake

Makes two 8 x 4-inch loaves

2 cups (4 sticks) butter, cold (but not hard),
plus more for greasing pan
2½ cups granulated sugar
7 large eggs, at room temperature
4 cups cake flour, sifted before measuring
1 tablespoon bourbon

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Biography Subject, Alonzo Cushing, Wins Medal of Honor

Almost 150 years after his death in the battle of Gettysburg in July of 1863, Alonzo Cushing, first lieutenant of Battery A, 4th U.S. Artillery, has received the Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration awarded by the United States. On Monday, President Obama officially bestowed the honor on Cushing along with Command Sergeant Major Adkins and Specialist Four Donald P. Sloat who both served and distinguished themselves during the Vietnam War.

Alonzo Cushing

Army First Lieutenant Alonzo H. Cushing

According to a statement released by the White House, “Army First Lieutenant Alonzo H. Cushing distinguished himself during combat operations against an armed enemy in the vicinity of Cemetery Ridge, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on July 3, 1863.” In Cushing of Gettysburg: The Story of a Union Artillery Commander, Kent Masterson Brown offers an expansive view of the life and career of Lt. Cushing. Brown, author of Retreat from Gettysburg: Lee, Logistics, and the Pennsylvania Campaign and creator of The Civil War magazine, incorporates vivid descriptions of the fury of battle and the exhaustion of forced battles to honor the historic contributions of Cushing.

Cushing courageously led the Union troops to break Pickett’s Charge in the battle, even placing his thumb over the vent of a Confederate gun and having it burned to the bone. Shortly after this incident he was killed instantly by a gunshot to his face. His first sergeant, who survived the battle, was awarded the Medal of Honor.

In an NPR interview, Brown revealed that the Army War Decorations Board contacted him as

part of their verification process while vetting Cushing’s story. The board drew on Brown’s extensive knowledge of Cushing and the body of information that he had cultivated while writing Cushing of Gettysburg.

For many, though, Cushing’s award is long overdue. Residents in Cushing’s hometown of Delafield, Wisconsin; the former governor of Wisconsin, Jim Doyle; and many Facebook fans pushed for the recognition. Former U.S. Senator Russell D. Feingold endorsed Cushing’s nomination in 2003, and in March of 2010, Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh confirmed that the Army supported Cushing’s nomination, ending years of lobbying by descendants and admirers.

In Brown’s interview he closed saying, “I wonder whether Cushing may be the last Civil War soldier to receive it. And if he is, I’d like to think that it’s being given to him but on behalf of all those others who are going to go unnamed – that they will all share in Cushing’s award of the Medal of Honor because we’ll never be able to right all those, quote, ‘wrongs,’ unquote, of all those other soldiers who were equally valorous.”

Continue for an excerpt from Brown’s Cushing of Gettysburg: The Story of a Union Artillery Commander:

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10 Books to Help You Celebrate Bourbon Heritage Month Like a Kentuckian

Nobody in Kentucky needs a reason to celebrate bourbon more than we already do each day, but if Congress wants to dedicate a whole month to the cause, we certainly won’t object. Thankfully, Congress did just that in 2007 when it declared September National Bourbon Heritage Month.

Over the past decade, bourbon has exploded on the national scene in a big way finally catching up with what Kentuckians knew all along. Here at the University Press of Kentucky, we’ve long been connoisseurs of the historic spirit so we’ve compiled a list books that should interest everyone from the bourbon historian to the home cook. Enjoy and read responsibly!


If it’s a month-long bourbon tour you’re looking for, this travel guide will not let you down.

Kentucky Bourbon Country: The Essential Travel Guide

Like wine lovers who dream of traveling to Bordeaux or beer enthusiasts with visions of the breweries of Belgium, bourbon lovers plan their pilgrimages to Kentucky’s bourbon country. And what a country it is! Some of the most famous distilleries are tucked away in the scenic countryside of the Bluegrass region, stretching between Louisville, Bardstown, and Lexington. Locals and tourists alike seek out the finest flavors of Kentucky as interest in America’s only native spirit continues to grow.

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Press Play: Bourbon Desserts, The Air Force, and Remembering Emmett Till

This past Friday, August 29, the Wall Street Journal featured a review of Lynn Marie Hulsman’s Bourbon Desserts. Here’s a taste of what they had to say:

“Bourbon, compared with its older cousin, Scotch, has a hint of caramel sweetness to it, making it a natural flavoring agent for dessert. Ms. Hulsman’s recipes for cakes, cookies, custards, ice creams and other confections are not designed for the calorie-shy, but they may well enchant anyone with a sweet tooth and an interest in traditional and modern American cuisine. Her presentations are clear and concise, with short introductory paragraphs preceding her instructions.” —Wall Street Journal


For the past couple of weeks Robert M. Farley’s Grounded: The Case for Abolishing the United States Air Force has been stirring up some conversation in publications like Aviation Week and The Daily Beast as readers digest Farley’s thought-provoking book.

Farley himself has continued to contribute to that conversation writing recently in Real Clear Defense about the Air Force’s new strategic white paper:

“Addressed to ‘Airmen and Airpower Advocates,’ America’s Air Force: A Call to the Future sounds a lot of familiar notes. It hypes the concept of “strategic agility,” a worthy contribution, but ends up defining the service’s contribution in reactive terms.  A Call to the Future tackles procurement failures and speaks to the need for partnerships, but fails to contribute seriously to the most gripping procurement problem the Air Force currently faces – the F-35 – or to provide a framework for thinking about the failure of airpower partnerships in Iraq and Afghanistan.” —Real Clear Defense


Finally, Darryl Mace, author of In Remembrance of Emmett Till: Regional Stories and Media Responses to the Black Freedom Struggle, spoke with radio station WHYY to remember Emmett Till on the 59th anniversary of his murder. During their conversation, Mace compares the the media landscape when Till was killed with the one we face today:

It is a very different time. There is a desire for instant news. Everything is tweeted and everything is blogged. The 24-hour news cycle really makes people hungry to consume media… You can’t escape the media input now.

You can listen to Darryl Mace’s full interview on the subject matter at WHYY.

Last Call: The Voices That Define Sportscasting

This past weekend, the Thoroughbred racing community bid Tom Durkin, the Voice of New York Horse Racing, adieu as he stepped into retirement following a 43 year career.

Durkin’s voice could have been heard calling more than 80,000 races including the Kentucky Derby, Triple Crown, and Breeders’ Cup races.

Announcers like Durkin are part of a long tradition that, in part, trace their origins back to the University of Kentucky where an earlier announcer pioneered much of what we recognize as modern sports broadcasting today.

In Voice of the Wildcats: Claude Sullivan and the Rise of Modern Sportscasting, Alan Sullivan, Claude Sullivan’s son, along with Joe Cox, give the behind-the-scenes account of the man whose voice embodied University of Kentucky Athletics from 1947 to 1967. The 1940s witnessed an explosion in sports broadcasting across the country, and when Sullivan, a seventeen-year-old from Winchester, Kentucky, took up the microphone, he became part of a rapidly changing field. Sullivan’s career developed as Kentucky began its rise to prominence and spanned the first four NCAA Basketball Championships under Coach Adolph Rupp. He also revolutionized the coverage of athletics by introducing a coach’s show with Kentucky football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. It was not only copied by other institutions but would also become an important innovation that paved the way for the modern televised sports entertainment industry.

While Sullivan never had the Thoroughbred racing bona fides of Durkin, he did call races including Tim Tam’s 1958 Bluegrass Stakes photo finish win.

That race call, along with 27 other archived audio files spanning Sullivan’s career announcing UK basketball and football games (plus a few with the Cincinnati Reds), can be found on the Voice of the Wildcats website. There, you can also read an excerpt from the book and look through photos documenting the work of the original Voice of the Wildcats, David Sullivan.

Wah Wah Jones (1926 – 2014)

Wah Wah JonesWallace “Wah Wah” Jones, the last surviving member of the University of Kentucky “Fabulous Five” basketball team, died this past weekend at the age of 88.

The UK legend, and only athlete in the school’s history to have had his jersey retired in both basketball and football, played under both coaches Adolph Rupp and Bear Bryant while in school. Besides winning an NCAA basketball championship in 1948 and 1949, Jones also won a gold medal in basketball for the U.S. at the 1948 London Olympics.

In tribute to this unforgettable player, we’re sharing an excerpt from the forthcoming book, Wildcat Memories by Doug Brunk; Wah Wah’s chapter may be the last interview he ever gave. Already cemented in the storied history of UK athletics, the Harlan native shared his remembrances and passion for his teams.

from Wildcat Memories: Inside Stories of Kentucky Basketball Greats by Doug Brunk:

I had dreamed about playing basketball at the University of Kentucky for many, many years. When I was growing up in Harlan in the 1940s, our family didn’t have a television set. We had a radio, but the reception on that was not reliable. Sometimes we’d get reception in the attic of our house, but often we’d pile in the car and drive into the nearby mountains to listen to UK basketball games on the car radio.

I was lucky to have been part of a winning basketball program at Harlan High School. Our team went to the state tournament four years in a row (1942 to 1945), and in 1944 our team won the state championship title. At the end of my high school career I had scored 2,398 points, which at the time was the highest total by a single high school player in the United States.

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