Frank X Walker
Frank X Walker, former Poet Laureate for the state of Kentucky, is a Professor in the department of English and the African American and Africana Studies Program at the University of Kentucky.
A Cave Canem Fellow and co-founder of the Affrilachian Poets, Walker is the author of ten collections of poetry including, Ink Stains & Wartermarks (Dunkin Hall, 2017), Turn Me Loose: The Unghosting of Medgar Evers (University of Georgia Press, 2013), winner of the 2014 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Poetry, and two collections of persona poems exploring the infamous Lewis & Clark expedition from the point of view of Clark’s personal slave, York: When Winter Comes: The Ascension of Yorkand Buffalo Dance: The Journey of York (University of Kentucky, 2008 & 2004). Buffalo Dancewas winner of the Lillian Smith Book Award and named A BookSense 76Spring 2004 Top 10 Poetry Book.
Walker is the originator of “Affrilachia” and is dedicated to deconstructing and forcing a new definition of what it means to be Appalachian. A Lannan Poetry Fellowship Award recipient, he has degrees from the University of Kentucky and Spalding University, as well as four honorary doctorates from the University of Kentucky, Spalding University, Transylvania University and Centre College. He has lectured, conducted workshops and read poetry at over 400 national conferences, arts centers and universities across the globe.
He is the recipient of the 2006 Thomas D. Clark Literary Award for Excellence, Actors Theatre’s Keeper of the Chronicle Award and a 2005 Recipient of a $75,000 Lannan Literary Fellowship in Poetry. He has held board positions for the Kentucky Humanities Council, Appalshop and the Kentucky Writers Coalition as well as a government appointment to Cabinet for Education, Arts & Humanities and the Committee on Gifted Education. He has served as vice president of the Kentucky Center for the Arts and the executive director of Kentucky’s Governor’s School for the Arts.
Walker regularly teaches in writing programs like Fishtrap in Oregon and SplitRock at the University of Minnesota; currently serves as Professor in the Department of English at the University of Kentucky; and is the proud editor and publisher of PLUCK!, the new Journal of Affrilachian Art & Culture.
“The work of Frank X Walker is an eclectic, powerful mixture of liberating style, profound insight, and unwavering organic connection to the intellectual, political, and cultural struggles of a people. He stands in the tradition of DuBois, McKay, Robeson, Hughes, and other great writers, poets and performers whose contributions have transcended time and space to give generation after generation pause and hope.” — Ricky L. Jones, author of Black Haze
[Buffalo Danceis] “an ardently imagined and gloriously vivid first-person account of York’s awe over the munificent and daunting wilderness, and instant rapport with the Indians he meets.” — Booklist (starred review)
“And now York, finally, has a voice. The man who made the voyage, the man with all the hopes and dreams of freedom has a voice, raises a song to his freedom, understands that his life was not his best self, only the best he could do. Let us all raise a praise song to Frank X Walker, for giving voice to York. What a magnificent achievement.” — Nikki Giovanni
[OnInk Stains & Watermarks] “In every stanza of this evocative and revelatory gospel, the inimitable X teaches us “Something important about holding on, something more about letting go.” He leans hard into the fierce, achingly familiar and sometimes fractured realities of the black-lived life, and under his deft touch they unreel as stark cinema—character-driven, rich with sensory, imbibed with their own selfish music and utterly, utterly memorable.” —Patricia Smith, author of Incendiary Art, Northwestern University Press
Author website: www.frankxwalker.com
Marie Mutsuki Mockett
Marie Mutsuki Mockett was born and raised in California to a Japanese mother and American father, and graduated from Columbia University with a degree in East Asian Languages and Civilizations.
Her memoir, Where the Dead Pause and the Japanese Say Goodbye (W.W. Norton, 2015),explores how the Japanese cope with grief and tragedy and is set against the backdrop of the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Tōhoku, Japan and her family’s 350 year old Buddhist temple. The memoir was a New York Times Editors Choice, a Barnes and Noble Discover Pick, an Indie Next Pick, a Finalist for the 2016 Pen Open Book Award, a San Francisco ChronicleBest Book of 2015 and a Finalist for the Indies Choice Best Book for Adult Nonfiction for 2016.
Her first novel, Picking Bones from Ash (Graywolf, 2009)was shortlisted for the Saroyan International Prize for Writing, and a finalist for the Paterson Prize. Her essay, “Letter from a Japanese Crematorium,” was anthologized in Norton’s Best Creative Nonfiction 3.She has written for The New York Times, Salon, National Geographic, Glamour,and other publications and has been a guest on The World, Talk of the Nationand All Things Consideredon NPR.
She enjoys speaking to the public about Japan, modern attitudes toward religion and spirituality and seeing through unconscious bias.
In 2013, Marie was awarded a Fellowship by the NEA and Japan US Friendship Commission, which enabled her to live in Japan. While there, she was featured in the NHK (Japanese National Broadcasting) Documentary, Venerating the Departed,which was broadcast internationally several times. Marie has also been award scholarships by the Bread Loaf Writers Conference and the Napa Valley Writers Conference, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.
Her work in progress, A Kernel in God’s Eye,is set in seven agricultural and heartland states, and is forthcoming from Graywolf Press; Kernalwas a finalist for the Lukas Prize for Nonfiction, awarded by Columbia and Harvard University’s Schools of Journalism.
Marie teaches fiction and nonfiction at the Rainier Writing Workshop, in Tacoma, Washington. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and son.
[Where the Dead Pause the Japanese Say Goodbye]“A poignant spiritual journey through Japan…Touching on themes of modernity and tradition, Mockett takes part in various religious customs to come to terms with her grief and understand her mixed-cultural heritage.” —Publishers Weekly
[Where the Dead Pause the Japanese Say Goodbye]“Mockett mixes memoir, travelog and a study of the sociology of death to look at how the unique character of Japanese spirituality helps individuals and the nation cope with loss…This illuminating journey through loss, faith and perseverance will appeal to both readers of Pico Iyer and current nonfiction on death culture…The author’s unique access to Buddhist priests gives the reader a rare view into one of the richest death cultures in the world.” —STARRED REVIEW, Library Journal
“[Picking Bones from Ash], so firmly anchored in a sensuous reality, veers into a dream world. A reader has the sense that even the author was driven by her most powerful character: the original mother, raising her daughter alone, shunned by villagers, forced to make decisions that haunt her descendants.” —L.A. Times
[Picking Bones from Ash] “A book of intelligence and heart. As Mockett reveals, the ghosts of our mothers are always within us — Amy Tan
Author website: http://www.mariemockett.com
Brad Aaron Modlin
Brad Aaron Modlinis the Reynolds Endowed Chair of Creative Writing at University of Nebraska at Kearney, where he serves as undergraduate and graduate creative writing faculty. His book, Everyone at This Party Has Two Names, won the Cowles Prize, and his short collection of short stories, Surviving in Drought won The Cupboard’s Press annual contest. His nonfiction has appeared in River Teeth, Fourth Genre, DIAGRAM, and others. His work also has been featured by On Being,Service Space, and Gratefulness.org. He holds an MFA from Bowling Green State and a PhD from Ohio University.
“Brad Aaron Modlin is a magician of fiction. Every sentence in Surviving in Drought flings a new flash of wonder. He transforms domestic mundanity into surreal miracles, impossibly won. The happy family life modeled from sitcoms is flipped, submerged, cast in a sea of glittering bubbles. But Modlin’s drowning world isn’t only doom and apocalypse. There is indeed survival and perhaps rebirth, as he reacquaints us with a world we’ve always known for the lie it is and the truth it can become. This gorgeously ornate collection of stories offers hope after the world is drowned. Modlin promises us humor, awe, kindness, and so much love lost and gained. This collection will teach you how to breathe underwater.” —Dustin M. Hoffman,author of One-Hundred-Knuckled Fist
“To read [Everyone at This Party] is to recoil with recognition, and then to shoot forward with the courage it provides via humor and the unexpected warmth of shared plight.” —Larissa Szporluk
“Full of essential solitudes though simultaneously lit by ‘a whore’s lightbulb against a star sky,’ the poems in [Everyone at This Party] are remarkable for their candor, for their wit, for their urge toward and into new moods and new modes. These poems, reminiscent of Beckian Fritz Goldberg and Norman Dubie, ask, ‘touch me here,’ and we do, and we emerge humored but also transformed. In prose and in verse, the poems here, much like the book’s title, have two names: holy and brilliant.” —Gary McDowell,author of Mysteries in a World That Thinks There Are None, co-editor of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Prose Poetry
“For anyone burdened by the weight of modernity, forget the chicken soup; pick up Brad Modlin’s wonderful book of poems.” —George Hovis
Author website www.bradaaronmodlin.com