All week, we’ve been celebrating University Press Week and sharing with all of you what it means to be a University Press and what makes UPs so great. One of the subjects we’re best known for is a subject closest to all of our hearts: Kentucky. Our regional books editor, Ashley Runyon, is a born-and-bred Bluegrass Girl. For University Press Week, we asked her to share why Regional Publishing is so important both to her and to the Press. Herewith, Ashley’s take on UPK’s regional publishing program, and a few reasons why we love our state.
Kentucky is home. As a toddler, I was first pictured in my University of Kentucky Wildcats cheerleading outfit rooting for the Big Blue. But the Bluegrass State is more than just basketball. Or bourbon. Or horses. It is the experiences and stories of people and places throughout the region that define what makes Kentucky great.
As a publisher of regional books, we are in a unique position to offer an exciting and inviting look at Kentucky’s history, heritage, and community. Offering more than just a chronicle of Kentucky’s past, we have the opportunity to engage, enlighten, and entertain. In the past year alone, we have shown Kentuckians the best places in the state to travel to for barbecue, bourbon, gems, and ghosts, revealed one of the best but forgotten jockeys, taught our readers how to make the perfect Old Fashioned cocktail, and offered a comprehensive look at the inner workings of government and politics in Frankfort and beyond. The tradition of the Bluegrass State is wide and far-reaching. Every week I learn something new about my home state and I hope we also offer that to our readers.
Regional publishing showcases the many truths of our region and community, whether it be The Good: A vibrant writing community, love and appreciation of the land. The Bad: The Louisville Cardinals (Go Big Blue!). And the Ugly: Poverty, prevalent drugs, and a poor education system. It is our job to tell the stories of our state.
The heritage of Kentucky is rich and it has been our privilege to enrich our community for the past 70 years.
Why do we publish books about Kentucky? …Because nobody understands Kentucky like we do.
Because we love that there are more barrels of bourbon than people in Kentucky.
And we love to drink it! (even our beer tastes like bourbon)
Because it is perfectly acceptable to call into work to go bet on the horses at Keeneland or Churchill Downs
Because NOBODY is a bigger basketball fan than we are. (We still can’t believe the UK-UL game in the 2012 Final Four didn’t result in the apocalypse)
Because speaking of the apocalypse…Berea, Kentucky is the safest place to be
Because in Kentucky, you can visit Paris, Rome, Bagdad, Bethlehem, Cuba, Sweeden, London, and Versailles (pronounced Ver-sales) in a day. Or towns like Monkey’s Eyebrow, Possum Trot, Big Bone Lick, Bugtussle, Oddville, Rabbit Hash, Shoulderblade, or Pig.
Because we know its Loo-uh-vuhl, not Louie-vill
Because one-half of the most infamous feud in America were Kentuckians
Because we were the original Land of Lincoln (sorry Illinois!)
Because along with Lincoln, we claim Muhammed Ali, George Clooney (all the Clooneys, really), Johnny Depp, Jennifer Lawrence, Diane Sawyer, and a hell of a lot more writers (Robert Penn Warren), Politicians (Henry Clay), Musicians (including the Judd family and 2/5 of the Backstreet Boys), Scientists (Robert H. Grubbs), Athletes (Tyson Gay), Artists (John James Audobon), and Chicken Impresarios (Col. Harlan Sanders)
Because we’re well-fed on BBQ, fried chicken, and doughnuts
Because even our madams are (in)famous
Because its hard not to tear up every time this happens before the Kentucky Derby