Tag Archives: events

2018 Judy Gaines Young Literary Awards


This year marked the fourth annual presentation of the Judy Gaines Young Book Award since its generous foundation by Dr. Byron Young, a trustee of Transylvania University, to honor his late wife. The award is presented to a writer from the Appalachian region for a book of particular distinction. Crystal Wilkinson won the award in 2017 for her book Birds of Opulence, a title published by the Press.

This year’s winner, judged by Jason Howard, editor of Appalachian Heritage, was none other than UPK author and best-selling poet Kathleen Driskell for her poetry collection, Next Door to the Dead: Poems.

The ceremony also featured the presentation of the Judy Gaines Young Student Writing Award, an award honoring the exceptional creative writing abilities of a Transylvania student. Laura Daley, a senior at Transylvania University and former UPK intern, won the award for her outstanding work in creative nonfiction and poetry, excerpts of which she read at the event.

Also in attendance were two former Kentucky poets laureate, a member of the board of the Kentucky Humanities Council, and several members of UPK staff.

By happy coincidence, the presentation of these prestigious awards fell on World Poetry Day (21 March 2018), and we were thrilled to celebrate the day with two such phenomenal poets!

Next Door to the Dead: Poems is a collection inspired by author Kathleen Driskell’s residence in a disused Louisville, Kentucky church built before the Civil War sitting next to a cemetery. The poems examine the fragility of mortality, the complexity of grief, and the importance of love when confronting loss. Her words breathe life into figures both known and unknown who have long since passed away, reimagining who they might have been based on what they left behind, and encouraging readers to ponder their own complex relationship with death, mourning, and life.


Kathleen Driskell read several poems from her collection, including “Ars Poetica”, “The Mower”, and “Tchaenhotep: Mummy at the Kentucky Science Center” . Her reading was followed by a short Q&A session, in which she discussed her writing process, her experiences living beside a graveyard, and what projects she is currently undertaking.


Laura read a memoir and two poems from her repertoire, and all three truly captures the spirit of living in Kentucky, from the beautiful moments spent in nature to the horrifying moments of watching your cousin bite off a snake’s head (yikes!) Her work emphasized the importance of family, and the feeling of belonging somewhere.

Laura Daley has been accepted with funding into the graduate programs of both DePaul University and University of Colorado Boulder. We can’t wait to see what this promising young writer (and former Press member) has in store for the future!

Kathleen is professor of creative writing at Spalding University, and associate editor of the Louisville Review. She has written several books and poetry collections, including Blue Etiquette and Seed Across Snow. To learn more about Kathleen Driskell and her work, check out her blog, and be sure to snag a copy of Next Door to the Dead.

next door to the dead

World War I 100 Years Later: Reassessing the Battle of Jutland

With commemorations of the World War I centennial in full-swing, names of historic battles like Verdun, Ypres, and the Somme have been recognized and remembered along with the soldiers who fought there. Images of men in the trenches dominate our memories of World War I, but of equal importance are the naval skirmishes that were waged in the European seas. No naval engagement was more important or had such an impact as the Battle of Jutland 100 years ago today, in which the German navy—under Admiral  Reinhard Scheer—attempted to break the British blockade of German shipping lines. Outnumbered against the renowned and dominant Royal navy—commanded by Admiral Sir John Jellicoe—sixteen German dreadnoughts engaged twenty-eight British warships in World War I’s largest naval battle and the only full-scale clash of battleships.

untitledThe Battle of Jutland marks a significant turning point in modern warfare—when new technology such as the submarine, the torpedo, and mines made major fleet combat between battleships irrelevant. Outdated strategies of war limited the leadership and tactics of both commanders. Traditional surface battles were quickly becoming a thing of the past as new, smaller battle cruisers could outmaneuver and outrun larger ships of the fleet, and the increasing use of submarines to disrupt and attack merchant vessels was seen as a more effective strategy.

After two days of bloody combat, both sides claimed victory. Britain retained control of the North Sea and forced the Germans to withdraw their fleet, but the British lost more ships and many more men than the German dreadnoughts.

The following excerpt comes from Jutland: World War I’s Greatest Naval Battle. Editors Michael Epkenhans, Jörg Hillmann, and Frank Nägler have collected an international group of scholars to investigate the iconic battle from both the British and German perspectives and reassess the leadership, strategies, and tactics of what would become the most formidable battle in modern Royal Navy history.

Reflections on the Battle of Jutland

by Michael Salewski [Excerpted from Jutland: World War I’s Greatest Naval Battle]

Somewhere a steamship idles in the waters. It is wartime, and steamships have to be inspected—as the Admiralty Staff book expressed it, a “minor event.” Thus the small cruiser Elbing and the torpedo boats B-109 and B-110 set off. The English have sighted the steamship as well, and so they send Galathea and Phaeton out in order to ensure fairness. N. J. Fjord is a harmless Danish commercial ship. But behind the German and British inspectors, at a proper distance, the High Seas Fleet and the Grand Fleet were on the move, their battlecruisers out front in operational positions. “Smoke possibly from fleet,” radioed Elbing and at 1532h set off the first shot of the battle.

The steamship functioned as a semaphore point. Before the development of radio telegraphy, flags were mounted on church towers. With the speed of light and vision, this kind of signal could be sent and received from beyond the horizon. But the two fleets now approaching one another are modern ones, even though they include one or more less modern squadron. No, as Scheer will argue, out of solicitude toward the crews, it would have been impossible to justify leaving the Second Squadron in Wilhelmshaven. It came back rather disheveled, and the Pommern was missing, along with its 844 men—the entire crew.

Only Franz Hipper and Sir David Beatty confronted one another at eye level, with commensurate weapons—this very thing brought forth the mystique of the cruiser battle. “It was a powerful moment,” reads the work by the Admiralty Staff, “and no one who experienced it could withdraw, when, after the breathtaking haste of the deployment, the German and British battlecruisers, the most beautiful and powerful ships of each fleet, swung into the battle line in majestic confidence, as if they were ‘fate itself,’ and the seconds of the utmost calm and marshaling of all strength gave way to the first thundering of the guns.” It was the ultimate duel, an industrial-scientific heroic deed worthy of the beginning of the heroic and brutal twentieth century.
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KY Book Fair 2015 University Press of Kentucky

Join UPK at the 2015 Kentucky Book Fair

The Kentucky Book Fair is fast approaching! We hope you’ll join us this Saturday, November 14 at the Frankfort Convention Center for this annual celebration of great books and great authors. See below for all the UPK authors who will be signing (and speaking) at KBF, and visit kybookfair.blogspot.com for more details.

UPK Authors @ KBF:

James Archambeault
Wes Berry
Roberta Simpson
& Lonnie E. Brown
Kathryn Canavan
Joe Cox
Robert Crane
& Christopher Fryer

Terri Blom Crocker
Linda Scott DeRosier
Kathleen Driskell
Robert M. Farley
Richard Holl
Tom Kimmerer
George Ella Lyon
William Lynwood Montell

Carol Peachee
Susan Reigler
F. Douglas Scutchfield
Gerald L. Smith, John Hardin, and Karen Cotton McDaniel
Elder John Sparks
Michael R. Veach
Frank X Walker
Aimee Zaring

Speaking @ KBF:

Robert Crane and Christopher Fryer will talk about Crane: Sex, Celebrity, and My Father’s Unsolved Murder at 12:30 pm in the Kentucky River Room.

Gerald L. Smith, John Hardin, and Karen Cotton McDaniel will discuss The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia at 2:00 pm in the Green River Room.

UPK Books @ KBF:

Click here to search by title or author for more information.

The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia

The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville

The editors of The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia will participate in a panel discussion this Wednesday, August 19 at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville at 6:00 pm. Sponsored by the Filson Historical Society, editors Gerald L. Smith, John Hardin, and Karen Cotton McDaniel will present individuals, events, places, organizations, movements and institutions that have shaped Kentucky’s history. Admission to the event is FREE. For more information on the event, visit FilsonHistorical.org. For more information on The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia, or to purchase the book, visit KentuckyPress.com.

from WHAS 11 Great Day Live (click for video)

WHAS Mack McCormick University Press of Kentucky Kentucky African American Encyclopedia

“A great hat speaks for itself.” [anonymous]

It’s a Kentucky Derby fashion round-up! Whether your favorite horse came in win, place, or show (or maybe not at all,) one of the best parts of the Derby is the Hat Watching. One of the biggest icons of Kentucky Derby fashion and culture will always be the classy, creative, petite, gargantuan, awe-inspiring chapeaus that Derby-goers sport for the Greatest 2 Minutes in Sports. Below, a few of our favorite outfit toppers from Derby 140:

Photo Sources:




The Oscars and Hollywood’s Most Enigmatic Figure

It’s that time of year again! No, I’m not talking about your taxes being due. I’m talking about that time of year when actors, actresses, directors, and some of the biggest names known in the movie industry gather together under one roof to celebrate some of the biggest achievements in Hollywood over the past year. Yes! It’s the Oscars. That’s right! Get excited!

There is no better way to officially kick off the week leading up to the 87th Academy Awards than to shed some light on one of the most prominent and leading men in Hollywood: Florenz Ziegfeld. Sorry to disappoint, but it’s not Brad Pitt.

Florenz Ziegfeld, widely known as “Flo” Ziegfeld was a celebrated Broadway impresario during the earlier part of the twentieth century.

A picture of Florenz Ziegfeld

He produced theatrical revues, the Ziegfeld Follies, where beautiful women in extravagant costumes would put on a choreographed performance. During the turn of the century, these elaborate and decadent shows were well renowned. It is the equivalency to a burlesque show in today’s society.

Ziegfeld was also famous for his production of stage musicals. His most famous was the musical Show Boat, which was extremely well received by the public. Three of his musicals were made into films. Fun fact: There are three film productions of Show Boat. Two of them were produced and released after Ziegfeld’s death.

The original sheet music for the musical from 1927

Ziegfield made many lasting contributions as a producer to Broadway and to Hollywood. After his death, a semi-biographical movie was created, The Great Ziegfeld, which won an Oscar in 1936 for Best Picture.

Many rumors and myths surround one of Hollywood’s brightest stars. He was supposedly a womanizer and a vicious and hard tempered producer when working. This notoriety may be one of the reasons he is less known in show business. Whatever the reason, Ziegfeld has contributed much to Broadway and to Hollywood and without him, the showbiz industry may have turned out much differently than what it is today.
To find out more about this most prominent producer in Broadway, read Ziegfeld and his Follies: A Biography of Broadway’s Greatest Producer, a book soon to be published by UPK and written by Cynthia and Sara Brideson.

Front cover for the book

The book depicts not only Ziegfeld’s professional life, but delves into his personal life and uncovers the truth behind his ill repute and the secrets that have been kept hidden until now. It is due to be released for publication this summer. This is a must read for anyone interested in Ziegfeld or in reading one of Hollywood’s most intriguing narratives.

Another fun fact: Florenz Ziegfeld was married to Billie Burke—Glinda the Good Witch of the North in the 1939 movie adaptation The Wizard of Oz!!

The Kentucky Mint Julep

May is definitely a month full of celebrations. There’s Cinco de Mayo (hello margaritas!), Mother’s Day (where would we be without the women who raised us?), and most importantly to Kentuckians (sorry margs and moms), the Kentucky Derby.

On Saturday, May 3, the 140th run of the Kentucky Derby will take place at Churchill Downs in Louisville. But the real questions that everyone seems to have on their mind are; what will everyone be wearing and what will everyone be drinking?

In regards to people’s outfits, the hats are a given. We can’t wait to see some of the crazy things that people come up with this year! These are just a sample of the dozens of fantastic and creative hats guests have made over the years.

In regards to drinking, many would argue that the only acceptable refreshment on Derby Day is a Mint Julep. This refreshing and delicious drink will go down smooth and leave you feeling great. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the infield or one of the owner’s boxes—the Mint Julep doesn’t discriminate!

If you don’t want to take our word for it, check out UPK’s book The Kentucky Mint Julep by Colonel Joe Nickell.

It looks at the origins of the julep, offers a brief history of American whiskey and Kentucky bourbon, and shares some classic julep tales. Information on julep cups, tips on garnishing and serving, and reminiscences from the likes of Charles Dickens, Washington Irving, and General John Hunt Morgan give a fun, historic look at Kentucky’s favorite drink. The book also includes recipes for classic juleps, modern variations, non-alcoholic versions, and the author’s own thoroughly researched “perfect” mint julep.

So celebrate the Derby by buying Nickell’s book on our website and drinking a Mint Julep. May the betting odds be ever in your favor!