Discover the literary life of the state at the Kentucky Book Festival



The Kentucky Book Festival started at the Frankfort Convention Center, but has now moved to Joseph Beth Booksellers in Lexington.

Readers and writers. Local and national. All will converge the first week of November for the Kentucky Book Festival, a week-long celebration of reading, writing and books.

It’s like Burger Week from the books, but this week-long celebration nourishes the soul, fires the imagination and inspires creativity.

National historians, novelists, journalists and youth writers will be on site to discuss with festival-goers. But the festival is also a reflection of Kentucky’s rich literary history passed down from generation to generation – from William Wells Brown, considered the first black novelist to be published; to Robert Penn Warren, the first US poet laureate and the only person to receive Pulitzer Prizes for poetry and fiction; poet, novelist and environmentalist Wendell Berry; to Kentucky Poet Laureate Crystal Wilkinson.

Writer and teacher Gurney Norman, who participates in the festival, observed this about Kentucky literary culture: “I have always been fascinated by these literary traditions linked to the country places and towns in which I have lived. and with whom I identified, ”Norman wrote. “There is something about the convergence of history and landscape, myth and reality that is meaningful to me in a way that I cannot explain. I think a lot of people who have a strong place identity share this fascination. For me, these are the paths traced by the predecessors … “

He noted that Lexington journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author AB Guthrie Jr., began offering fiction writing classes on the UK campus and influenced a young writer named Walter Tevis, who went on to write “The Hustler “,” The Color of Money “. and “The Queen’s Gambit”.

Gurney goes on to mention that one of his greatest satisfactions as a creative writing teacher in the UK has been witnessing the progress of his former student Frank X Walker, who will also be attending the festival. And there is no doubt that Walker, award-winning author, educator and co-founder of the Affrilachian Poets, will be joined at future festivals by some of the countless students he influences in the UK today.

A program of Kentucky Humanities, the Kentucky Book Festival (formerly Kentucky Book Fair) is the Commonwealth’s first and largest book festival. After going virtual for a year, we’re excited to be back in person and have a new location – Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Lexington. We think it’s important to have a partnership with one of the few large independent bookstores in the country.

The full-day event on Saturday November 6 will feature 140 authors. It will be a mix of local talent and national figures including Crystal Wilkinson, Elin Hilderbrand, Silas House, HW Brands, Frank X Walker, Brian Kilmeade, Gwenda Bond, Cinda Williams Chima, Sam Quinones and W. Bruce Cameron.

Ahead of the November 6 event, which is free and open to the public, five weekday events at various locations in Lexington will include:

A virtual conversation with bestselling young adult author Jason Reynolds;

A literary lunch with chef Ouita Michel and Susan Reigler;

Cocktails and conversation with Margaret Verble and Kim Edwards;

Literary Quiz Evening; and

Commerce Lexington FOCUS Breakfast with James Hardymon and Terry L. Birdwhistell.

Forty years ago, the late Carl West, editor of the Frankfort State-Journal, launched this festival. It is Kentucky’s first and largest book festival. We hope to have honored his vision and that of hundreds of dedicated volunteers, as we continue to grow and evolve to include craft discussions and panels on a variety of topics such as historical Southern fiction writing. , writing through grief and how to become yourself – publishing superstar.

Whether you want to meet your favorite authors, hang out with writers, experience the writing profession, hang out with other book lovers, and meet famous authors you would never see otherwise, it will be at the Kentucky Book Festival.

Most importantly, we want to preserve this rich literary heritage and nurture the next generation of Kentucky writers.

Woods is director and special projects coordinator for the Kentucky Book Festival, which is a program of Kentucky Humanities. Goodman is executive director of Kentucky Humanities.

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