Plans for the Frank X Walker Literary Festival VIII are underway, with expansion to include a K-12 poetry contest in its events. The festival will take place in October, exact dates and times will be announced.
The idea of including a competition was initiated by the Friends of the Arts Committee, part of the Danville Independent Schools Education Foundation, said Jane Dewey, director of arts education for Independent Schools from Danville.
“This component of the festival will encourage students to express their thoughts, ideas and emotions through poetry and will expand the scope of the festival to include students in kindergarten through 4th grade,” Dewey said in an email. “The poetry contest will accept entries from August 24 with a deadline of September 24. Plans for the poetry contest include publishing a poetry anthology featuring the winning poems. Exact festival dates and more detailed plans will be announced in early August.
Dewey said that in terms of other events the festival will include, it will be similar to previous years.
The first Frank X Walker Literary Festival was held in September 2014, organized by Citizens Concerned for Human Relations, which worked with Boyle County and Danville School Districts, Center College, Boyle County Public Library and other organizations, she said.
“It was created to honor Frank X Walker for being named Kentucky’s Poet Laureate,” she said. “He became Kentucky’s first African-American Poet Laureate when the then Governor. Steve Beshear appointed him to this two-year position in 2013. CCHR wanted to honor Professor Walker’s achievement as he was a native of Danville and a graduate of Danville High School.
The first festival consisted of inviting authors to schools, a reception honoring Walker, a reading he gave at Center College Norton Center for the Arts, presentations he gave at Gravely Hall Performing Arts Center , a festival featuring books and authors, writing workshops and author presentations, Dewey said.
“The festival continued over the next few years, becoming a fixture at schools in Danville and Boyle County, and Professor Walker continues to be part of the festival which honors literature by African American authors as well as other writers of color,” Dewey said.
She said activities included reader visits to schools, theater performances and other events.
“Danville and Boyle County School Districts and CCHR continued to host the festival,” she said.
In October 2020, the festival had to be virtual due to the pandemic, and there were virtual readings of literature by African American authors for fifth and eighth graders, and there was also a keynote reading and a Walker Q&A with in-state students. , “reaching more than 3,000 students from more than 20 schools and districts,” Dewey said.
She said the plan this year is for the festival to take place in-person in school districts, but there will likely be virtual elements as well. She said plans were underway to include the wider community as well, and she said grades outside of K-12 would come into play in the “reading chain” and keynote speeches.
Walker has been instrumental in festivals over the years, she said.
“Professor Walker has been involved with the Festival since its inception,” she said. “While the first festival was designed to honor Professor Walker, he was involved in some parts of the planning and continues to be instrumental in the festival. In addition to presenting readings to middle and high school students and the community each year, he has helped design learning materials and workshops that help prepare students to fully engage in the readings.
In what she hopes students and the community will gain from the festival and the addition of the competition, Dewey said she hopes it will shine a light on the stories and their creators, and encourage students to be themselves. storytellers.
“The stories and histories of people of color have been underrepresented, and Professor Walker’s literary and artistic successes have allowed us to shine a light on those stories and their creators,” she said. “While the festival began with the important goal of honoring Frank X Walker for his creative achievements, it has always included other writers and performers, visual and literary. These artists open our eyes to their voices through their artistic work and encourage us (students, teachers, families, community members) to use our voices to tell our stories.The addition of the poetry contest intentionally nurtures and encourages the voices of our next generation.