Tag Archives: Weatherford Award

Author Carol Boggess Wins Book Award

KHS Award logoUniversity Press of Kentucky author Carol Boggess has been named the recipient of a 2018 Kentucky History Award given by the Kentucky Historical Society for her book, James Still: A Life. The Kentucky History Awards recognize outstanding achievements by historians, public history professionals, volunteers, business and civic leaders, communities, and historical organizations throughout the Commonwealth, promoting the history of state and local history. The awards were presented at the Kentucky History Awards Ceremony on Friday, November 9, at the Old State Capitol in Frankfort.

Boggess offers a detailed portrait of writer James Still in the definitive biography of the man known as the “dean of Appalachian literature.” Despite his notable output, including the classic novel River of Earth, and his importance as a mentor to generations of young writers, Still was extremely private, preferring a quiet existence in a century-old log house between the waters of Wolfpen Creek and Dead Mare Branch in Knott County, Kentucky. Boggess, who befriended the author in the last decade of his life, draws on correspondence, journal entries, numerous interviews with Still and his family, and extensive archival research to illuminate his somewhat mysterious personal life.

In James Still: A Life, James Still.final.inddBoggess explores every period of the author’s life, from his childhood in Alabama, through the years he spent supporting himself in various odd jobs while trying to build his literary career, to the decades he spent fostering other talents. This long-overdue biography not only offers an important perspective on the Still’s work and art but also celebrates the legacy of a man who succeeded in becoming a legend in his own lifetime. According to Lee Smith, author of Dimestore: A Writer’s Life, Boggess’s “graceful and informative biography sheds light into many shaded places and dark rooms of his long life, illuminating the sources and passions of this beloved giant of American literature, one of the greatest writers of all time.”

James Still is the seventh University Press of Kentucky publication in eight years to win a KHS award, joining Kentucky and the Great War: World War I on the Home Front by David J. Bettez; The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia by Gerard L. Smith, Karen Cotton McDaniel, and John A. Hardin; Bloody Breathitt: Politics and Violence in the Appalachian South by T.R.C. Hutton; The Kentucky Derby: How the Run for the Roses Became America’s Premier Sporting Event by James C. Nicholson; A History of Education in Kentucky by William E. Ellis; and Lessons in Likeness: Portrait Painters in Kentucky and the Ohio River Valley, 1802-1920 by Estill Curtis Pennington. James Still was previously named the winner of the 2018 Weatherford Award for Non-Fiction.

Carol Boggess is president of the Appalachian Studies Association and former English professor at Mars Hill University.

Boggess KHS award pic

KHS Executive Director Scott Alvey, Carol Boggess, and KHS Governing Board President Constance Alexander. Photo by Marvin Young.

 

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!