Fiction writer, poet, and memoirist, Crystal Wilkinson is the author of the novel Birds of Opulence and two story collections, Water Street and Blackberries, Blackberries. Among many other honors, Wilkinson has received the 2017 Appalachian Book of the Year Award in fiction, 2017 Weatherford Award in Appalachian Fiction, 2017 Judy Young Gaines Prize for Fiction, 2016 Earnest J. Gaines Prize for Literary Excellence, 2002 Paul and Lillie D. Chaffin Award for Appalachian Writing, and the Sallie Bingham Award from the Kentucky Foundation for Women for the promotion of activism and feminist artist expression. She was an early member of the Afrilachian Poets writing collective, which recognizes and highlights African American contributions to Appalachian culture and literature.
Crystal Wilkinson was born in Hamilton, Ohio, in 1962 and raised in Indian Creek, Kentucky. Her grandparents, Silas and Christine Wilkinson, took her into their care when she was six weeks old. Often describing herself as a country girl, Wilkinson's work reflects a love and homage to her Appalachian roots. She recalls growing up on her grandparent's farm where her grandfather planted tobacco and corn and made sorghum molasses and her grandmother worked as a domestic worker for school teachers in the county. "I lived an enchanted childhood," Wilkinson says in remembering her days roaming the knobs and hills of her home. "My grandparents gave me the freedom to explore the countryside and to write, to dream, to discover. They wanted me to have things that they didn't have, to know things they didn't know. But whether they knew it or not, they WERE the wisest people I have ever known. I learned so much from them about nature, about art, about life."
One of the first generations of her family to attend college, Wilkinson graduated from Eastern Kentucky University with a B.A. in journalism and an MFA from Spalding University. She now teaches creative writing at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. She lives in Lexington with her partner, poet and artist Ron Davis.
Wilkinson will read from her award-winning novel, Birds of Opulence, and also from her memoir in progress.
For more information about this event, contact LMU Writer-in-Residence, Darnell Arnoult at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 423-869-7170.
This event is a program of the Department of Literature & Languages with special thanks to The School of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Events Committee, Arts in the Gap and Carnegie Vincent Library.