This special occasion is not for a new painting or a new exhibit being put on display. It is very different than what someone would expect from an art museum.
The reason all these people have come to the museum is for a poetry reading.
For the past couple of years, the Jule Collins Museum of Fine Art has held a monthly event called the Third Thursday Poetry Series.
This series features several poetry readings held on the third Thursday of every month. The poetry readings start with local amateur poets reading their own material.
During these readings, the diversity of the crowd is made fully apparent. There were young and old poets. White ones and African-American ones. Two of the poets even presented their material in the form of spoken word raps. (Photo, right: Amazon)
However, the main point of this event is the invited guest poet. The art museum gets the best emerging southern poets to read their material. Thursday’s night’s guest was no exception. The guest’s name was Frank X Walker.
Frank Walker is Kentucky’s current Poet Laureate. He has published eight poetry collections, and is the founding editor of Pluck! The Journal of Affrilachian Arts and Culture. He is currently a professor at the University of Kentucky, where he teaches English, and African-American and Africana studies.
Walker famously created the word “Affrilachia”, and it is now included in the Oxford American Dictionary. Affrilachia is meant to unify Appalachian identify with African-American culture. (Source & Photo, left: Jule Collins Smith Museum)
Walker began by reading from one of his most recent poetry collections Turn Me Loose: The Unghosting of Medgar Evers. All of the poems in this collection are based on the various perspectives and personae of those involved in the assassination of civil rights activist Medgar Evers in Mississippi in 1963.
These poems try to inhabit the minds of Evers himself, his widow Myrlie, Evers’ assassin, Byron De La Beckwith, and many others both before and after the assassination.
After this, Walker wrapped up the evening by reading more personal poems that ranged from comical to depressing. Walker reflected that some of these poems were inspired by memories and feelings towards family members, given he has ten siblings.
Zachariah Pippin, a student at Auburn Univeristy and a young writer who attended the event, said when asked about Walker's readings, "I thought is was a genuine and moving event, and Walker tied his poems into current events without losing the emotional human core". (Photo, right: Jule Collins Smith Museum)
The next date for the Third Thursday Poetry Series will actually be on a fourth Thursday, which is March 24th. This change in routine is due to spring break taking place during that third Thursday of March. That event will feature readings from Dan Albergotti.
For more information, visit the website of the Jule Collins Smith Museum.
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