Category Archives: Kentucky Books

Clark Medallion Event featuring Elkhorn: Evolution of a Kentucky Landscape

Topophilia, the love of place, is what drives Richard Taylor. Through his love of Elkhorn Creek and his gift of storytelling, Taylor’s new release, Elkhorn: Evolution of a Kentucky Landscape, presents readers with a powerful picture of a location that has impacted so many with its natural beauty. Filled with photographs, illustrations, and vignettes detailing this creek and its surrounding wonders, Taylor’s book gives readers a sense of why there is such a pull to this majestic landscape. 

Elkhorn is the 2018 winner of the Thomas D. Clark Medallion. The Clark Medallion is presented by the Thomas D. Clark Foundation Inc., a private nonprofit established in 1994. The medallion is presented annually to a book highlighting the state of Kentucky’s history and culture.

In honor of Taylor and his new release, an award presentation, reception, and book signing will be held at 5:30 pm Wednesday, September 26 in the River Room at the Paul Sawyier Library in Frankfort. The event will be hosted by Kentucky Humanities, Nana Lampton, the Paul Sawyier Public Library, and the Thomas  D. Clark Foundation.

Taylor_TrueFinal_Medallion“Count among the Elkhorn’s fans white-water enthusiasts who mount kayaks on their roof racks and often drive considerable distances to glide along its rough-edged spine. Or the fishermen who wade into sun-lucent pools as they might approach a spiritual or religious experience. And the rest of us, near and far, who love nearly pristine places, land that hasn’t been subdivided into suburban citadels with a few acres of tamed lawns or converted into cultivated fields that productively but monotonously generate nicotine or a single food crop to the impoverishment of nature and local soils,” Taylor writes in Elkhorn.

The Clark Medallion event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Click here for more information.

 

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Kentucky Novelist, UK Professor Enjoys Sweet Peach of a Summer

“Another sweaty summer presents itself like a gift. Sun is a peach outside the window, grass all calmed down.”

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University Press of Kentucky author Crystal Wilkinson has had a summer of gold. From her novel, The Birds of Opulencebeing named the winner of the 2016 Appalachian Writers Association‘s Appalachian Book of the Year for Fiction to Wilkinson herself being appointed as the 2018 Clinton and Mary Opal Moore Appalachian Writer-in-Residence at Murray State University, Wilkinson has spent the hot summer months earning both professional and personal honors.

Birds follows four generations of women in a bucolic southern black township as they live with—and sometimes surrender to—madness. The book hones in on the hopeful and sometimes tragic navigation of life as seen through the eyes of the Goode-Brown family. This marks the fourth award The Birds of Opulence has won, including the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, the Weatherford Award for Fiction, and the Judy Gaines Young Book Award. Wilkinson’s novel was also named the debut selection of the Open Canon Book Club, which was created by New York Times bestselling author Wiley Cash to introduce readers to varied voices and portrayals of the American experience.

Birds is not the only one of Wilkinson’s books that has gotten attention this summer. Her second short story collection, Water Street, has been selected as the One Book Read at West Kentucky Community and Technical College. The program is a community-wide effort to help eliminate illiteracy in the region, with faculty and staff at WKCTC collaborating with many local and college partners to promote reading.

WATER STREET

Wilkinson’s work has earned her personal honors as well. The Appalachian Heritage Writer-in-Residence Committee and the West Virginia Center for the Book selected her for the Appalachian Heritage Writer’s Award. Previous recipients include Henry Louis Gates, Charles Frazier, Frank X Walker, Denise Giardina, and Silas House. In conjunction with the award, she will be the One Book, One West Virginia Author for 2019, and Water Street will be read by students across the state.

In addition, Wilkinson has gained speaker representation from Authors Unbound, which will broker her events in the form of literary engagements, one book programs, distinguished lectures, keynote appearances, community visits, and a variety of signature events.

Pictured at the top is Wilkinson sitting on a book bench designed by Bowling Green artist Lora Gill. Book Benches: A Tribute to Kentucky Authors is a public art project that features book-shaped benches, each themed around a different work by a Kentucky author, that have been placed around Lexington as a way to encourage reading. Wilkinson’s bench will be installed along South Limestone Street in front of the University Press of Kentucky office in November.

To top it off, Wilkinson accepted a new position as Associate Professor of English in the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program at the University of Kentucky. Further information on Crystal Wilkinson, her books, and her upcoming events can be found on her new author website: https://www.crystalewilkinson.net/.

From all of us at Kentucky Press, congratulations on a wonderful summer, Crystal!

Gentry Named Recipient of AWA Book of the Year for Poetry

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Author and former Kentucky Poet Laureate Jane Gentry (1941–2014) has been named the recipient of the Appalachian Writers Association’s 2017 Appalachian Book of the Year for Poetry for her posthumous collection The New and Collected Poems of Jane Gentry, edited by Julia Johnson, professor of English and creative writing at the University of Kentucky.

Alternately startling and heart-wrenching, The New and Collected Poems of Jane Gentry offers a valuable retrospective of the celebrated poet’s work. Upon being diagnosed with cancer, Gentry and her daughters began collaborating with editor Julia Johnson to organize this definitive collection. The result is the entirety of Gentry’s published work alongside new, previously unpublished poems.

“In poem after poem in this rich and important collection, Jane Gentry commemorates her personal history through the lens of poetry — family, friends, the seasons, the flora and fauna she moves through. This book is a love song to Kentucky,” commented Jeff Worley, editor of What Comes Down to Us: 25 Contemporary Kentucky Poets.

Poet and professor Jane Gentry spoke to UK College of Arts and Sciences about her life and work in 2013.

The New and Collected Poetry of Jane Gentry is the ninth University Press of Kentucky book to win an AWA award, joining Driving the Dead: Poems by Jane Hicks and From the Mountain, From the Valley: New and Collected Poems by James Still as winner of the poetry award. In addition, Bloodroot: Reflections on Place by Appalachian Women Writers by Joyce Dyer, Songs of Life and Grace: A Memoir by Linda Scott DeRosier, My Appalachia: A Memoir by Sidney Saylor Farr, Bloody Breathitt: Politics and Violence in the Appalachian South by T.R.C. Hutton, and Helen Matthews Lewis: Living Social Justice in Appalachia by Helen Lewis all won the AWA’s Book of the Year Award for Nonfiction, and The Birds of Opulence by Crystal Wilkinson, UK associate professor of English, won for fiction.

Gentry’s work is deeply rooted in place, exuding a strong connection to the life and land of her native Kentucky. In honor of this consummate poet, who possessed an uncanny ability to spin quietly expansive and wise verses from small details, objects, and remembered moments, we are sharing one of her poignant pieces, “A Garden in Kentucky.”

A Garden in Kentucky

Under the fluorescent sun
inside the Kroger, it is always
southern California. Hard avocados
rot as they ripen from the center out.
Tomatoes granulate inside their hides.
But by the parking lot, a six-tree orchard
frames a cottage where winter has set in.

Pork fat seasons these rooms.
The wood range spits and hisses,
limbers the oilcloth on the table
where an old man and an old woman
draw the quarter-moons of their nails,
shadowed still with dirt,
across the legends of seed catalogues.

Each morning he milks the only goat
inside the limits of Versailles. She feeds
a rooster that wakes up all the neighbors.
Through dark afternoons and into night
they study the roses’ velvet mouths
and the apples’ bright skins
that crack at the first bite.

When thaw comes, the man turns up
the sod and, on its underside, ciphers
roots and worms. The sun like an angel
beats its wings above their grubbing.
Evenings on the viny porch they rock,
discussing clouds, the chance of rain.
Husks in the dark dirt fatten and burst.

 

 

Happy Chocolate Pecan Pie Day!

schmid bookChocolate pecan pie is one of the richest, most delicious and decadent desserts. A variant of the pecan pie, this delightful concoction is made by baking a mix of pecans, chocolate, eggs, and sugar syrup or honey over a pie crust.

And because today is officially Chocolate Pecan Pie Day, it’s appropriate that we put a regional spin on this traditional recipe. To celebrate this day—and let’s be quite honest: any day is a good day to celebrate chocolate and pecans—we’re sharing an absolutely divine pie recipe that incorporates chocolate, pecans, and [drumroll, please] bourbon!

The following recipe is derived from The Kentucky Bourbon Cookbook by Albert W.A. Schmid.  Treat yourself to a slice or two of this delectable dessert!

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Kentucky Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie

Serves 6

  • 3 extra large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla
  • ¼ cup bourbon
  • ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup whole pecans
  • One 10 inch pie tin, lined with all purpose pastry, unbaked

All purpose pastry

  • 1 ½ cup all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ sugar
  • ½ cup very cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 extra large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  •  ¼ ice water

1) Make the all purpose pastry.

2) Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in a mixing bowl.

3) Cut the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

4) Gradually add egg yolks and ice water until a ball of dough is formed (do not overwork the dough).

5) Wrap the dough and chill for 30 minutes before rolling out.

6) When the dough is chilled, roll out to about 1/8 inch thickness on a lightly floured surface.

7) Roll out the dough two inches larger than the pan it is intended to be used for.

8) Place the dough in the pan.

9) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

10) In a mixing bowl beat eggs, sugar, butter, corn syrup, vanilla and bourbon.

11) Strain this mixture into another bowl.

12) Sprinkle the chocolate chips on the bottom of the unbaked pie shell.

13) Cover with pecans.

14) Pour the filling on top of the chocolate and pecans.

15) Bake for 35 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven.

16) The pie is cooked when you are able to insert a knife into the pie, two inches off the side of the pie, and the knife comes out clean.

17) Let cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.

18) Serve.

University of Kentucky Basketball Great Frank Ramsey Dies at 86

 

Frank Ramsey, a Kentucky men’s basketball national champion, All-American, and UK Athletics Hall of Famer, died yesterday. He would have turned 87 on Friday.

Ramsey was a key contributor on Kentucky’s 1951 national championship team and one of the stars of the 1954 team that went a perfect 25-0 but declined an invitation to the NCAA Tournament.

In Wildcat Memories: Inside Stories from Kentucky Basketball Greats by Doug Brunk, Ramsey discussed his upbringing and his experience with playing for Adolph Rupp. In honor of this basketball great, here is an excerpt:


I was born in the little town of Corydon, Kentucky, which had a population of about 300. Joseph Chandler—the father of Albert Benjamin (“Happy”) Chandler, who went on to become Kentucky’s Governor—lived two doors up from us. He was the postmaster and most every day he would push me in a wheelbarrel on his way to the train station to pick up the mail. Once we reached the train station he’d put the mail in the wheelbarrel and I’d walk back home with him. When I was five years old we moved to Madisonville and I’ve lived there ever since.

brunkCover.inddKentucky is unique because it’s a collection of many small towns. Consequently you get to know practically everybody in town. When I was growing up, the population of Madisonville was probably 5,000. At that time, if you misbehaved at school you had to watch out when you got home because the teachers knew you and they knew your family. If you got in trouble at school the teacher would call your family. Because of this we didn’t have any major behavior-related problems in the schools then. The discipline was there.

[. . .] 

During my junior and senior years at Madisonville High School, the UK basketball team had won the NCAA Championship twice. There was no television at the time so we all listened to the games on the radio. Lexington was a four-hour drive from Madisonville. I’d go up there to visit friends of mine I grew up with who were playing football at UK. When Coach Adolph Rupp offered me a scholarship to play basketball there I jumped at it. At that time pro ball wasn’t even in the future thinking of basketball players like me. We went to college to get an education, in addition to playing the sport. At the same time, since UK was a land grant college, every student had to serve two years in the Reserve Officer Training Corp (ROTC). I served with the Army Military Police Corp at an army prison and at Fort Knox.

There were only about 5,000 students at UK when I attended so I didn’t have the sense that I was playing for the entire state. At that time UK was the biggest university in Kentucky and it had the greatest coach in Adolph Rupp. I was playing for the school and for the team. As basketball players we didn’t get any special treatment. We didn’t have luxurious living quarters like the players do now. We lived in the dorm like everybody else and ate in the dining hall like everybody else. We were normal students. One semester our basketball team had better than a B average. A lot of the people I attended classes with went on to become governors, bankers, doctors, lawyers, and politicians, and I’m still friends with them.

[. . .] 

Coach Rupp and Coach Lancaster were hard-drivers but they were fair. As a coach you’ve got to be a hard-driver. Kids expect a certain amount of discipline. If you don’t have discipline on a team, whether it’s basketball, football, baseball, or soccer, you’re not going to win. One thing Coach Rupp had was respect from his players. I don’t think it was fear, but we all wanted to please him and we wanted to win.

[. . .] 

I may have earned a bachelor’s degree in business from UK, but I earned a doctor’s degree athletically. I played baseball and I played basketball for one of the greatest coaches ever. Coach Rupp dealt in fundamentals. He taught you how to play the game of basketball. That afforded me a living in the NBA after I completed my military service, and I later used the business education I received at UK to open a bank. I’m grateful for that.

Kentucky Basketball Legends: Still Making Their Mark

Members of the 1998 Kentucky Men’s Basketball Championship team will sign Maker’s Mark annual commemorative bottles at the Keeneland Entertainment Center this Friday, April 13, at 7 a.m. Among those signing at the event will be forward guard Allen Edwards, guard Jeff Sheppard, and former UK head coach Tubby Smith, all of whom are featured in Wildcat Memories: Inside Stories from Kentucky Basketball Greats. In this book, author Doug Brunk details the cherished bond between Kentucky basketball and the citizens of the Commonwealth through first-hand accounts from some of the Wildcats’ most renowned legends.

Tickets for the Maker’s Mark signing are already sold out, but you still have a chance to get up close and personal with these champions by way of this engrossing book. Below is an excerpt of Coach Tubby Smith’s chapter from Wildcat Memories:


As a coach, you love the fans, and you want their support. Having an affinity for the fan base is essential. You are providing a service coaching their team. You are trying to win, and you are trying to do the right things for your players, your coaches, the university, and the fans. Fans may boo you or cheer you. They call and they write with praise and criticism. But you can’t let that affect you, or you’re not going to last long in coaching or be successful in coaching. I became a college coach for the student-athletes, to get them educated and to teach them the game of basketball.

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During his ten-year tenure, Tubby Smith guided UK to one national championship, five SEC Tournament titles, and six Sweet Sixteen finishes. (Courtesy of Victoria Graff.)

During my tenure at UK there was an element of the fan base that didn’t think our teams had won enough games, but in five of my ten years as coach we probably played the toughest schedule in the history of UK basketball. I wish we could have won more games while I was head coach. But we were competitive, we graduated our players, and we kept the program clean. If there was pressure, it was pressure to make sure we did things in a first-class manner. 

One thing I appreciate about UK fans is that they know how to be grateful, because the program has been so successful , and the fans are proud of that success. They show their pride, and they should. They show their commitment by calling in to talk shows, writing letters, and flocking to Rupp Arena or wherever the team plays. You’re not going to find more loyal, passionate fans for their team than followers of the Wildcats. That’s the one common thing. Just about everybody in Kentucky is pulling for you to be successful. It’s a way of life in the Commonwealth. 

An Open Letter

Dear Supporters of the University Press of Kentucky:

Based on the recently passed state budget, the University Press of Kentucky (UPK) will lose approximately $672,000 out of a total operating budget of $2.86 million against sales of $1.92 million. The University of Kentucky will work with UPK to plan increases in efficiency and enhanced revenues to partially offset the loss of funding. Further, the University of Kentucky and all partner institutions of UPK will be expected to provide financial support to fill any remaining funding gap. The long-term goal is to chart a strong path forward for UPK.

The fact is that many university presses receive funding and support from multiple sources. Against that backdrop, a fresh approach to our funding model is economic reality. It reflects that technology and other forces are changing the way we transmit and discuss ideas. We should seize this moment to continue to evolve, as we have already been doing, in ways that keep pace with change and serve as a model for other university presses.

In this context, it is critical that current and prospective authors and UPK’s business partners understand that we are on a path toward stability. Our short-term financial challenges are transitory. We urge our authors and vendors to understand that we are conducting business as usual.

Many supporters of UPK have asked how they can help. This is how: share our news. Help the faculty you interact with understand that we plan to be here for the long haul. Help them know that UPK looks forward to continuing our work with writers and scholars around the world to advance thinking and scholarship. Help them understand that the best way to keep us growing and improving is to send us thoughtful, significant, and creative manuscripts of the highest caliber.

We are grateful for the messages of support given to us by so many in recent months. We look forward to continuing to work with you as we chart our path forward—one that will secure the future of UPK and the rich cultural and intellectual heritage in which we play such a vital role.

Sincerely,

David W. Blackwell, Provost, University of Kentucky

Deirdre Scaggs, Interim Dean, UK Libraries

Leila Salisbury, Director, University Press of Kentucky