2015 Kentucky Writer’s Hall of Fame

Next week, the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning in downtown Lexington will hold the third annual induction of the Kentucky Writer’s Hall of Fame. The Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame was created to recognize Kentucky writers whose work reflects the character and culture of our commonwealth, and to educate Kentuckians about our state’s rich literary heritage.

The requirements for the 2015 class have altered slightly from years past. For a writer to have been eligible this year, they must be (1) deceased (excluding one living writer), (2) published, (3) someone whose writing is of enduring stature, and (4) someone connected in a significant way to the Commonwealth of Kentucky. In order to be nominated, each author had to undergo a three step process including nominations from the general public, recommendations from a committee comprised of former state poet laureates and the director of the Kentucky Arts council, and a final review and selection done by the Carnegie Center’s Hall of Fame Creation Committee.

This year’s inductees have been described as “eloquent, inspirational, and sometimes downright outrageous” by the Hall of Fame founder and Carnegie Center executive director, Neil Chethik. The full 2015 class is listed below:

      
Wendell Berry (Henry Co.)      Elizabeth Hardwick (Fayette Co.)      Effie Waller Smith (Pike Co.)

     
Jim Wayne Miller (Warren Co.)   Guy Davenport (Fayette Co.)  Hunter S. Thompson (Jefferson Co.)

The University Press of Kentucky proudly honors these authors, having worked with many of them at some point in their career. A small spotlight will go out to UPK book, Every Leaf a Mirror: a Jim Wayne Miller Reader, with a short reading by Mary Ellen Miller, Jim Wayne’s widow, during the ceremony.

The six winners will be officially inducted on Wednesday, January 28, at the Carnegie Center, 7 PM (Doors open at 6:30 PM). This event is FREE and open to the public.To get in the spirit of the induction, here is a poem from Every Leaf a Mirror titled “His Hands”:

His Hands
He noticed his hands, how they
cracked each other’s knuckles, how his fingers
thrummed restlessly on every tabletop,
foraging for magazines, snuffling about
in his pockets for cigarettes, like a dog
tracking a mole. He noticed his hands
reassuring one another, noticed them
turning on television sets when he wasn’t looking,
like horses who learn to open
gates and barn doors with their noses.

He knew his hands had learned from him
how to seem independent, how to hide
from the larger creature they were just a part of.
His hands were only children
telling on the street what they’d heard at home.

He walked in the woods.
Fish hung in his veins, shadows fanning.
Birds circled his farthest green thoughts.

He came home after dark, the mood following
like a friendly old dog. At home he noticed
his hands, alert, looking up, trying
to start a game of fetch.

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