Frank X Walker Frank X Walker: 2013 Writer-in-Residence

2013 schedule of events

September 23- October 18

Photography Exhibit, Anthology of Appalachian Writers, Gretchen Moran Laskas volume V.

Monday, September 23

Storer College: A Community Remembers, 5:00 p.m., Byrd Legislative Center.

Screening of Film Coal Black Voices and Discussion, 7:00 p.m. Reynolds Hall, co-sponsored with the Shepherdstown Film Society, Dr. Sylvia Bailey Shurbutt Discussion Leader.

Tuesday, September 24

"The African American Story in Appalachia with Dr. Matthew Foulds," 5:00 p.m. Byrd Legislative Center.

"A Celebration of Appalachian Storytellers: The Anthology of Appalachian Writers and Photographers, Gretchen Moran Laskas Volume V," 7:00 p.m., Byrd Legislative Center, Anthology Reception in Scarborough Reading Room at 8:00 p.m. Gretchen Moran Laskas will join us for the event sponsored by The WV Center for the Book, The Shepherd University Foundation, and The Scarborough Library.

Wednesday, September 25

Visit with Martinsburg, Jefferson, and Berkeley Springs Honors Students at Martinsburg High School, 9:00 a.m.

Frank X Walker Reading at Martinsburg Public Library and Reception, 10:30 a.m.

Lunch with AHWIR Project Director and Friends.

"The Writing Life, with Frank X Walker," 7:00 p.m., Byrd Legislative Center. The writer discusses his work, the writing process, and his journey toward authorship and publication.

Thursday, September 26

Lunch with Senior Moments Book Club.

Writers Master Class with Frank X Walker, 3:00-4:30 p.m. at Byrd Legislative Center.

Dinner at Yellow Brick Bank with Fiction Competition Winners, 6:00 p.m.

Scarborough Society Lecture and WV Humanities Council Awards Ceremony, "Voices from Affrilachia," 8:00 p.m. Walker will receive the Appalachian Heritage Writer's Award and presents the Scarborough Address at Erma Byrd Hall, followed by reception and book signing. The WV Fiction Competition awards will also be presented by Walker. The event is sponsored by the WV Humanities Council and the WV Center for the Book.

Friday, September 27

Public Radio Interview, Inside Appalachia.

Evening Reading of Award-winning WV Work of Fiction at the 19th Annual Appalachian Heritage Festival Concert, 8:00 p.m., Frank Arts Center.

Saturday, September 28

Appalachian Heritage Day-long Festival and Evening Concert, 8:00 p.m., Frank Arts Center.

Tuesday, October 29

"Appalachian Haints and Hauntings," with Storyteller Lyn Ford, 7:00 p.m. Byrd Legislative Center. The event sponsored by the WV Humanities Council and Shepherd University Diversity and Equity Committee.

Friday, November 22

Screening and Discussion of Red Tails, the Story of the Tuskegee Airmen, Discussion Leader Dr. Matthew Foulds, 7:00 p.m. Reynolds Hall, The event is sponsored by the Shepherdstown Film Society.

Frank X Walker Works

Medgar Evers

Around the void left by the murder of Medgar Evers in 1963, the poems in this collection speak, unleashing the strong emotions both before and after the moment of assassination. Poems take on the voices of Evers's widow, Myrlie; his brother, Charles; his assassin, Byron De La Beckwith; and each of De La Beckwith's two wives. Except for the book's title,"Turn me loose," which were his final words, Evers remains in this collection silent. Yet the poems accumulate facets of the love and hate with which others saw this man, unghosting him in a way that only imagination makes possible.

Isaac Murphy, I Dedicate This Ride

In this richly imagined collection of poems, Frank X Walker brings to life the mind and heart of legendary African-American jockey Isaac Burns Murphy (1861-1896). The son of a slave, Murphy rose to the top of thoroughbred racing in a brilliant career that brought him wealth, honor and international fame. The first to win the Kentucky Derby three times (1884, 1890, 1891), Murphy won an unprecedented 44% of the races he entered. Part of the lore surrounding Murphy's legacy was his penchant for not using the whip. He preferred to ride his mounts into the winner's circle by using his well-honed skills and simply talking to his horses.

When Winter Come, The Ascension of York

A sequel to the award-winning Buffalo Dance, Frank X Walker's When Winter Come: The Ascension of York is a dramatic reimagining of Lewis and Clark's legendary exploration of the American West. By focusing on the humanity and struggles of York, Clark's slave, When Winter Come challenges conventional views of the journey's heroes and exposes the deeds, both great and ghastly, of the men behind the myth. Grounded in the history of the famous trip, Walker's vibrant account allows York -- little more than a forgotten footnote in traditional narratives -- to embody the full range of human ability, knowledge, emotion, and experience. He is a skillful hunter who kills his prey with both grace and reverence, and he thinks deeply about the proper place of humans in the natural world. York knows the seasons "like a book," and he "can read moss, sunsets, the moon, and a mare's foaling time with a touch." The Native peoples understand and honor York's innate bond with the earth. Though his expertise is integral to the journey's success, York's masters do not reward him; they know only the way of the lash. The alternately heartbreaking and uplifting poems in When Winter Come are told from multiple perspectives and rendered in vivid detail. On the journey, York forges a spiritual connection and shares sensual delights with a Nez Perce woman, and he aches when he is forced to leave her and their unborn son. Walker's poems capture the profound feelings of love and loss on each side of this ill-fated meeting of souls. When the trek ends and York is sent back to his former home, his wife and stepmother air their joys and grievances. As the perspectives of Lewis, Clark, Sacagawea, and others in the party emerge, Walker also gives voice to York's knife, his hunting shirt, and the river waters that have borne the labors and travels of thousands before and after the Lewis and Clark expedition. Despite fleeting hints that escape is possible, slavery continues to bind York and quell the joyful noise in his spirit until his death. Walker's poems, however, give York his voice after centuries of silence. When Winter Come exalts the historical persona of a slave and lifts the soul of a man. York ascends out of his chains, out of oblivion, and into flight.

Black Box

This powerful collection of poems from award-winning poet Frank X Walker continues the autobiograhical, political and literary journey of Affrilachia, his groundbreaking book of poems about growing up black in the Appalachian south (Old Cove Press, 2000). In Black Box he offers the reader 68 new poems -- written with passion, clarity and emotional honesty -- that illuminate experiences of race, love, social justice, family, identity and place.

Buffalo Dance, the Journey of York

Buffalo Dance, the Journey of York ( 2004) and When Winter Come, the Ascension of York (2008) portray the remarkable story of the African American explorer who accompanied Lewis and Clark on their famous 1803 expedition, an event that would open the western territory which Jefferson had added to the geography of the nation. The two books provide an extraordinary example of storytelling at its best, and they allow an unheard voice to tell another side to one of the country's most iconic stories, a story which shaped a nation and the national identity. In the process, Walker strips away the veneer from the myth, to lay bare an alternative perspective which will help us all come to terms with the story of America. York, the African American man-servant of William Clark, shares his story that becomes everyone's story, in a country uniquely diverse and that can only succeed through embracing its rich diversity.


Now in its eighth printing, Frank X Walker's pathbreaking book of poems Affrilachia is a classic of Appalachian and African-American literature. Walker created the word "Affrilachia" to help make visible the experience of African-Americans living in the rural and Appalachian South. The book is widely used in classrooms and is one of the foundational works of the Affrilachian Poets, a community of writers offering fresh ways to think about diversity in the Appalachian region and beyond.