Tag Archives: Kwoya Fagin Maples

Meet the Press: Kayla Coco, Marketing Intern

Name: Kayla Coco-Stotts

Position: Marketing Intern

Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri

Alma mater; major; minor: University of Kentucky; B.A. in Print Journalism; Communication minor (December 2018)


Why should students be interested in their local university press?

I believe that students should be interested in their local university press because there is so much culture and accomplishment within university presses that I think is somewhat overlooked. I heard about UPK my freshman year of college and knew I always wanted to intern here, but so many others haven’t had the chance to learn about the amazing work UPK does for the Commonwealth. Students especially are able to learn so much from UPK; it’s like having a library of amazing authors, reads, and resources right on campus.

Why should students support their university press? How are some ways to support the press?

Students should support their university presses because they’re in need of our support! Even just sharing social media, buying UPK books, or going to events that feature UPK authors stimulates the marketplace of ideas and keeps the local book culture thriving within the universities.

What have you learned during your time here, and how will you use the skills you gained as you start a career, further your education, etc.?

I’ve learned how to craft a press kit and the true meaning of marketing. I never thought I would see myself enjoying the marketing side of publishing, but it is truly rewarding to excited people about the projects we’re working on. I’ve already been thankful enough to use the skills I’ve obtained here to set up a job when I graduate.

What’s one of your favorite UPK titles and why?

Mend: Poems by Kwoya Fagin Maples was amazing, heartfelt, and conveyed a level of anguish that I could never imagine being strong enough to experience. I also really loved Clarence Brown: Hollywood’s Forgotten Master by Gwenda Young because it gave me an opportunity to learn about an age of Hollywood that I’ve just not taken the time to understand before.

If someone was visiting Kentucky for the first time and you were their tour guide, where would you take them?

Actually, I’m from St. Louis originally so I’ve kind of become an unofficial tour guide for Lexington (I’m still waiting for my name tag to come in…I’m sure they’re sending it any day now). I always take people on a long walk around UK’s campus because I think it’s gorgeous, as well as downtown to some of my favorite restaurants and bars, like West Main Crafting Co. and Buddha Lounge. Breakfast? Josie’s for sure. Needing some lunch? Let’s head to Planet Thai! Can you tell I love food?

Did you always know you wanted to intern in publishing? When you were a kid, did you want to do something different as an adult?

Growing up I was very driven and academically successful, and I always heard, “You’re going to be a doctor someday,” from relatives. When I started at UK, I began in biosystems engineering, but doing something I could do versus something I wanted to do was entirely different. After a quick Google search and some encouragement from friends, I switched to journalism and decided to intern at UPK during my first semester. I have always loved books, and being a book editor is what I used to tell people I would do, “when I grow up.”

What was the last book you read?

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and The Rules of Magic: A Novel by Alice Hoffman. Both are amazing books!

Name three things you can’t live without.

My dogs, sweatshirts, and dry shampoo

If someone asked you to give them a random piece of advice, what would you say? Do you have a personal motto?

Just do what you love. People always are going to say, “life’s too short,” but life can get pretty long and dull when you’re stuck doing something you don’t really enjoy, whether that be in a professional or personal environment. Oh, and while you’re still in high school, get a credit card, only use it to buy gas, and always make payments on time.

What’s your favorite word?

Sonder: the realization that each random passerby is living a life as complex and vivid as your own.

What’s something most people don’t know about you? What’s a random factoid about yourself?

I try to be as conscious as I can about living a minimal waste lifestyle by avoiding plastic containers or cups and avoiding using more than I need.

If you could have dinner with any three people—dead or alive, famous or not—who would it be?

Abraham Lincoln, Stephen King, and Malcolm X.

If you could try out any job for a day, what would you like to try?

Andy Lassner, the executive producer of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, because I love a good scare and I think Ellen and I would be great pals.

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Give the Gift of Reading This Holiday Season!

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A Girl’s A Gun by Rachel Danielle Peterson, 50% off

As the holiday season quickly approaches, what better gift to give your loved ones than a book. The University Press of Kentucky is pleased to announce the start of their 2018 Holiday Sale, which is the perfect opportunity to purchase affordable, yet thoughtful, presents for everyone on your list. With special pricing and discounts up to 75%, this sale is a wonderful chance to stock up for the holidays. Most 2018 titles are 40% off, while older releases are 50% off. In addition, select new releases and special titles have set markdowns of $5–$10. There are books for history fans, film enthusiasts, military buffs, and many more, especially Kentuckians interested in regional titles. With such a broad selection, there are sure to be books that will please even the most hard-to-buy-for people on your list.

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The Struggle is Eternal by Joseph R. Fitzgerald, 40% off

Among the featured titles are new and recent releases in fiction, Amreekiya: A Novel, Make Way for Her: And Other Stories, Patchwork: A Bobbie Ann Mason Reader, and The Birds of Opulence. Authored by women writers and featuring female protagonists, these books speak to the human experience and describe interpersonal relationships in striking ways. Black Bone: 25 Years of the Affrilachian Poets and Mend: Poems are recent collections that lend voice to marginalized groups—African-American writers from Appalachia and female slaves subjected to medical experimentation without their consent.

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The Philosophy of War Films edited by David LaRocca, 40% off

For those interested in Kentucky history, Elkhorn: Evolution of a Kentucky Landscape, Forty Minutes to Glory: Inside the Kentucky Wildcats’ 1978 Championship Season, and A New History of Kentucky, second edition are featured. Named the 2018 Thomas D. Clark Medallion Book, Elkhorn chronicles the rich history and culture surrounding Elkhorn Creek, the second largest tributary of the Kentucky River. As basketball season begins, Forty Minutes to Glory is the perfect title for every member of the Big Blue Nation. The second edition of A New History of Kentucky is a revised and updated volume of the flagship history of the state history that brings the Commonwealth’s story into the twenty-first century.

Regional favorites like Burgoo, Barbecue, and Bourbon, The Kentucky Bourbon Cookbook, and The Beer Cheese Book are also included in this sale. The University Press of Kentucky is offering free shipping on orders over $75 in honor of their 75thanniversary. To view a full list of the titles featured in this promotion, visit www.kentuckypress.com. Orders should be placed by December 1 to guarantee Christmas delivery, and sale prices are valid through January 31, 2019. To order visit www.kentuckypress.com or call 800-537-5487 and use the discount code FHOL.

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Miriam Hopkins by Allan R. Ellenberger, 50% off

The University Press of Kentucky (UPK) is the scholarly publisher for the Commonwealth of Kentucky and was organized in 1969 as successor to the University of Kentucky Press. The university had sponsored scholarly publication since 1943. Offices for the administrative, editorial, production, and marketing departments are found at the University of Kentucky; however since the 1969 reorganization, the Press has represented a consortium that now includes all of Kentucky’s state universities, five of its private colleges, and two historical societies.

A Look at the Kentucky Book Fair on November 17

KBF_2018_UPK_ProgramAd.jpgNow in its thirty-seventh year, the Kentucky Book Fair is expanding to become the signature piece of a larger event, the Kentucky Book Festival. Organized by Kentucky Humanities, the Kentucky Book Festival will span from November 12 to 17 and involve six days full of literary events around Lexington, culminating in Kentucky Book Fair on November 17 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm at Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park. The fair will feature more than 180 authors, including over twenty-five who have been published by University Press of Kentucky (UPK):

 

 

In addition to authors who will be signing their books on the main arena floor on November 17, the Kentucky Book Fair will host a series of panel discussions and presentations for authors and readers alike on the main stage and in breakout rooms that day. Several panels include UPK authors eager to share their work:

The Kentucky Book Festival will be holding a series of events throughout the week at several different locations around Lexington. The events include readings, cocktail parties, trivia, and more:

  • Monday, November 12, 6:30 to 8:00 pm—The Carnegie Center for Literacy & Learning will host “New Kentucky Poetry & Prose” with readings by Willie Davis, UPK author Jeremy Paden, Robert Gipe, and Maureen Morehead. Free and open to the public; no tickets required.
  • Tuesday, November 13, 12:00 to 2:00 pm—ArtsPlace will host “A Literary Luncheon with Silas House” featuring him reading from his new novel Southernmost. Tickets are required and available for $40 at kyhumanities.org; seating is limited.
  • Friday, November 16—Jonathan S. Cullick, author of Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men: A Reader’s Companion, will teach a KBF Master Class on the basic rhetoric principles of persuasion and how to use them to more than 300 students. This event is for preregistered students and not open to the public.

Dedicated to honoring the profession of writing and to providing a format for authors to meet their reading public, the Kentucky Book Fair attracts thousands of avid readers and patrons nationwide. Featuring a broad range of titles including children’s books, military history, mystery, nature, fiction, and nonfiction, the fair attracts promotes reading across genres and age levels. Founded in 1981, the Kentucky Book Fair is the state’s leading literary event.

A full list of Kentucky Book Festival activities can be found on the Kentucky Humanities website.

A Conversation with Kwoya Fagin Maples, author of Mend

Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 12.46.43 PMKwoya Fagin Maples, author of Mend: Poems, amplifies the forgotten voices of black women whose bodies were used to further science at the expense of their humanity through her profoundly intimate, and sometimes devastating, verse. This collection of poems explores imagined memories and experiences relayed from hospital beds. The speakers challenge James Marion Sims’s lies, mourn their trampled dignity, name their suffering in spirit, and speak of their bodies as “bruised fruit.” At the same time, they are more than his victims, and the poems celebrate their humanity, their feelings, their memories, and their selves. A finalist for the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Donald Hall Prize for Poetry, this debut collection illuminates a complex and disturbing chapter of the African American experience.

How did you first become acquainted with James Marion Sims, and did you learn about his experimentation on enslaved women at the same time, or did that knowledge come later?

Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 12.51.35 PM.pngI didn’t intentionally set out to write historical persona poems. I was at a time in my writing career where I was weary of writing about myself. I’d just graduated from my MFA program and I felt a little lost—not knowing the direction I wanted my writing to take. Before Mend, I mainly wrote lyrical or language poems. During a Cave Canem summer workshop another writer mentioned the story of enslaved women—mothers, who were the subjects of gynecological experimentation conducted by Dr. James Marion Sims of Montgomery, Alabama. I’d been asking her about her own experience with motherhood. When I got back to my room, I googled the story, and I was immediately captivated by it. There was so little information online about it at that time, and no record of the women’s experiences. Not even all of their names. All of this was stunning and heartbreaking. I suppose from the beginning I deeply connected with the women emotionally—as if they were my family. At that time, I knew this story had not been told from their perspective. I imagined they’d been waiting on it to be told. I wrote one poem that same night. It was titled “The Door.” It is fortuitous that my editor, Lisa Williams, later chose it to be the book’s prefatory poem.

Can you describe the research you did in preparing to write these poems?

I began by collecting and studying slave narratives. Most of my research was conducted by use of the Library of Congress. I listened to music recordings from that time period and studied photographs of southern enslaved women in order to develop voices. I read Sims’s autobiography, surgical notes, and letters. By the time I finished writing Mend, I’d poured through hundreds of slave narratives and read several books surrounding the case, including Harriet Washington’s Medical Apartheid, which related several cases of medical experimentation conducted on people of color in the United States. Anarcha, Betsey, Lucy, and the other unnamed women of Mt. Meigs were not alone. I found that medical experimentation was commonly practiced by doctors and slaveholders. In her book, Washington uses the term “medical plantations,” arguing that what yielded for these doctors (instead of a traditional crop) was advancement in their respective fields and establishment of wealth. The poem I wrote in direct response to this idea is “What Yields,” an eleven-sectioned sonnet corona in Mend.

After spending so much time in research, when the poems came again for the book, they came in the voices of the women themselves. In 2011, at a writing residency provided by the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation, I began writing. I hadn’t written anything since that first poem a year earlier. I didn’t feel I’d have permission until I’d done my due diligence of researching. I didn’t automatically feel as though I could tell these women’s stories just because I was a black woman. I’d never been born a slave. Something that happened in the process of writing this book that I didn’t expect was how my own experience with matrescence would affect the work. In March of 2012, I found I was pregnant for the first time. After having written poems that endeavored to show the scope of the women’s lives, including their motherhood, there was so much I wanted to go back and revise. I didn’t plan on how being a mother would affect my work or the poems of this collection, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised.

How do the persona poems in Mend compare to your other poetry?

Mend is my first collection of historical persona poetry. I’ve written only a few other persona poems. My other work draws from my personal impressions and life experiences. I’m not an overtly political poet, but my work is political, nonetheless. Often, an argument is being made. The book I’m currently writing draws mainly from my childhood, and shows my obsession with the ocean. I’m from Charleston, SC, and that enters my work as well.

Earlier this year, the statue commemorating Sims was removed from New York’s Central Park and will be relocated to the Brooklyn cemetery where he is buried. It will include a plaque explaining the “legacy of non-consensual medical experimentation on women of color broadly and Black women specifically that Sims has come to symbolize.” Is this an appropriate step for the city to take and what more can or should be done concerning his memorials there and elsewhere?

The Sims statue removal in New York was pivotal and refreshing. It meant that people were hearing the story of Anarcha, Betsey, Lucy, and the unnamed women, and listening. Later in the year, when I heard that the mayor of Columbia, SC was interested in having the statue of Sims removed from the Statehouse there, I knew I wanted to be part of efforts to make it happen. I contacted Joy Priest, a graduate student at the University of South Carolina, and we began organizing a protest in the form of a poetry marathon. I traveled from Birmingham to South Carolina. The protest was held in front of Sims’s statue. All day we read poetry, essays, and facts related to this case in medical history. Poetry is a powerful form of resistance. While we held up posters, we also passed out fliers with information about Sims and the experimentation. We reverenced the voices of Anarcha, Betsey, and Lucy along with all the unnamed women by bringing them into the frame.

People who cause trauma to others should not be reverenced or held in such high esteem that they have statues erected in their honor. People with any moral decency should agree. Sims’s actions as a doctor jeopardized the lives of human beings and caused irreparable harm. Sims’s monuments were built in his honor without consideration of the circumstances surrounding his success. The women whose bodies he profited from became meaningless the day his statue was erected. Their existence was completely ignored. With these statues and others like it, marginalized people repeatedly receive the message that their experiences are of no importance. When we rectify our mistakes by removing or modifying problematic monuments or statues, we give people an opportunity to heal.