Tag Archives: fiction

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!

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Galley Giveaway: Let’s Get Fictional #1

UKY01 Birds of Opulence Selected.inddAs our fans and followers may have noticed, we have some exciting works of fiction due out this Spring. We’ve had the pleasure of working on them for months now, waiting for this moment—the time when we finally get to share them with you!

From now through 5:00 pm Eastern on Wednesday, January 13, enter for a chance to win one of five available advance reader copies of The Birds of Opulence by Crystal Wilkinson. Fill out the form below to enter our contest and read this compelling tour de force before it’s published next month.

Also, click “read more” below to enjoy the first chapter of the work that Pulitzer Prize finalist Maurice Manning has called “lyrical and visionary, unconventional, and infused with beauty.”

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Congratulations Writing Contest Winners

The Winners of our First Micro-Fiction Contest

First of all, a huge THANK YOU to everyone who submitted an entry to UPK’s very first, Micro-Fiction contest! We had a great time reading through the entries, and it was incredibly difficult to select the grand-prize winner and runners up. But select we did!

Our entrants were asked to write an ekphrastic micro-fiction (300 words, or less!) piece of prose or poetry in response to one of two images:

3 Runners-Up will win 1 Kentucky fiction or poetry book of their choice published by the University Press of Kentucky, and 1 Grand Prize Winner will win a prize pack of 3 Kentucky fiction or poetry books published by the University Press of Kentucky.

View our fiction titles here. Find poetry titles here.

And now, we present to you, the

Grand Prize Winner

Congratulations Patricia Holland of Paris, Kentucky, for her prose piece: “Threads!”

And, congratulations to our three runners-up:

Liz K. (“Thread Baring”)
Sarah H. (“Sewing Not”)
& Rich G. (“And Still You Sew On”)

Threads

My great-grandmother Nanny believed she could foretell the future by studying the clipped threads and bits of fabric that caught on the hem of her skirt whenever she made a new dress.

She taught me to sew and as I pedaled away on her treadle machine, she also taught me to respect her strange, Irish superstitions. To her, those stray threads found on my clothing had landed there to help her analysis my future. Different colored threads meant different things. Black did not mean death. Blank was the color of my true love’s hair. Threads in red, yellow, green or pink were fine unless they were from my wedding dress. My Nanny sang, “Married in red, you’ll wish you were dead/ Married in yellow, you’re ashamed of your fellow/Married in green, you’ll be ashamed to be seen/Married in pink, your spirit will sink/ But when you marry in white, you’ll find the love of your life.”

For a time after she taught me how to sew, I believed that stray threads really could show me a glimpse of my future. Do I still believe that those bits of colored thread have a mystical meaning and power? No, I don’t; but I still remember and treasure Nanny’s long-ago lessons. So as I sew up my white wedding gown and think about the pattern my life will take, I’ve taken a mare’s nest of tangled threads from the bottom drawer of Nanny’s sewing machine and made a small silk drawstring bag to hold them.

I do believe in traditions so I’ll make sure that on my wedding day I’ll have something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. Nanny’s tangled threads are old, my dress is something new. My Irish lace veil will be borrowed and my garter will be blue.

Read the entries from our runners-up after the jump

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Happy Birthday James Still!

On what would be the 107th birthday of the Dean of Appalachian Literature, we present our favorite titles by Mr. Still and a few other tidbits to remember a great American writer.

View all titles by James Still at the University Press of Kentucky

View a documentary from Western Kentucky University and WKYUJames Still: Man on Troublesome Creek

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Take this opportunity to explore a glossary of regional dialect and terms used in Mr. Still’s works

Compiled by Tiffany Williams of McRoberts, KY for The Hills Remember: The Complete Short Stories of James Still edited by Ted Olson

Some of our favorite words:

Big Thick: noun An unabridged dictionary. “My old teacher used to say that once a body breathed chalk dust and pounded the Big Thick Dictionary he was spoiled for common labor.” (pg. 285). (POM)

fat mouth: noun One who talks too much or blabbers. “I might do ’er, fat mouth.” (pg. 355). (DARE)

grands and greats: noun One’s descendants; thus, a profusion of people. “It would take Adam’s grands and greats to rid that ground in time for planting.” (pg. 231).

light a shuck: verb phrase To run fast, leave in a hurry. “I whistled up Trigger and lit a shuck down the road.” (pg. 179). (DSME)

piddle: verb To deal or work in trifling or petty ways; to act idly or inefficiently; to loiter. “Bot was company for Uncle Mize, with me in the fields trying to conquer weeds, and Broadus and Kell piddling.” (pg. 84). (MW) Hence piddling, adjective Trifling, insignificant, paltry. “A mighty piddling few.” (pg. 162). (DSME)

sheep’s eyes: noun Presumably, the bubbles that form on the surface of a liquid that are comparable in size to a sheep’s eyes and indicate that the liquid is at a boil. “Stir till it ’gins making sheep’s eyes, and mind not to over-bile.” (pg. 247).

A Famed Giveaway: Celebrating Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame Nominees

The Carnegie Center in Lexington has created a Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame to honor 200 years of writers in the state, and we’re celebrating with a special giveaway!

From the field of thirteen finalists, six writers will be selected as inaugural members of the Hall of Fame and their names will be announced at a public gathering on January 24. The University Press of Kentucky is proud to publish books by and about many of the finalists, and, this week, we’re giving away one of these books to a lucky winner.

View eligible books here.

The Finalists:

  • Harriette Arnow
  • William Wells Brown
  • Harry Caudill
  • Thomas D. Clark
  • Guy Davenport
  • John Fox Jr.
  • Janice Holt Giles
  • James Baker Hall
  • Thomas Merton
  • Elizabeth Madox Roberts
  • James Still
  • Jesse Stuart
  • Robert Penn Warren

To enter our giveaway, fill in the required fields below with your name, address, and the title of the book you would like. (View the eligible books here) We will randomly select one winner on Wednesday, January 30 at 1:00 pm.

Good luck, and spread the word!