A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Constance Alexander: Author Roberta George’s debut novel ‘The Day’s Heat’ is hot stuff

Best birthday present this year was discovering that a friend from long ago, Roberta George, had her first novel published at eighty. “There’s still time,” I said to myself, nervously measuring the years to four score and naught, wondering if I can make the leap the way Roberta did. We’d met in the early 1980s at the Bread Loaf Writers Conference in Middlebury, Vermont. Described in the current...

Constance Alexander: What we are actually talking about when we talk about race

The other night, the City Council of Murray unanimously passed a resolution recommending to the Calloway County judge-executive that the statue of a Confederate soldier – in the likeness of General Robert E. Lee – be removed from the courthouse property and relocated to an appropriate venue. In the discussion leading up to the vote, council member Alice Rouse emphasized the difference between removing...

Constance Alexander: WKy NOW invites grades 6–12 to celebrate 100 years of women’s suffrage

Except for smudges of white clouds that blur the glare of afternoon sun, the sky is blue as the eye of eternity. Along with a few slender evergreens discreetly pointing to heaven, sturdy clapboard houses claim the distant background. In the foreground, the courthouse square is thronged with a raucous crowd. A few stovepipe hats blend with other old-fashioned details, but the vitality of this small-town...

Constance Alexander: Katerina Stoykova’s ‘Second Skin’ tackles the serious and sobering through poetry

“How Are You Feeling, Child?” is the question that haunts Katerina Stoykova’s newest book of poems, “Second Skin.” The three main characters in this collection – mother, father, child – are as tight as a clenched fist and as detached as severed limbs. Deeply embedded in the poems, domestic violence is not merely a metaphor, but a recurring horror in the life of the child whose mother...

Constance Alexander: Learning at lunch with Dr. Hammonds means listening, challenging yourself

Read this sentence and count the f’s: Finished files are the result of years of scientific study combind with the experience of years. Seems like a no brainer. At least that’s what I thought when I encountered this statement in a recent Lunch & Learn Zoom session at the Calloway County Public Library. The presenter, Dr. MarTeze D. Hammonds, talked to the online audience about the topic “Basics...

Constance Alexander: Kentucky writer Karen McElmurray ups the ante in ‘Wanting Radiance’

Instead of a stream of literary yada-yada-yada about Karen McElmurray’s, “Wanting Radiance,” what could be better than letting the vibrant language and compelling situations in this magical novel speak for themselves? Take page one, for instance. Main character Miracelle Loving lets on how her mother, Ruby, refuses to reveal the identity of the girl’s father. Rather than answer her daughter’s...

Constance Alexander: Film chronicles 20-year journey to Medal of Honor for Kentucky hero

Some say that the story of a World War II soldier, Lieutenant Garlin M. Conner and the Medal of Honor, has a fairy tale ending. Others would disagree. With a record of courage under fire and a passel of other honors for his performance in the Third Infantry Division, Conner was no super hero, but an ordinary man who demonstrated extraordinary leadership and bravery in battle. On January 25, 1945,...

Constance Alexander: Murray’s WKMS Celebrates 50 years with voices from Between the Rivers

Unlike a character in the movie “The Sixth Sense,” I do not see dead people but I do hear their voices, because of Connecting People & Place, a documentary series first broadcast in 1997-98, on WKMS-FM, the National Public Radio affiliate in Murray. What began as a cooperative oral history project between WKMS and Land Between The Lakes Association, ended up as a 13-part series, with support...

Constance Alexander: Calloway County Collective makes lists, solves problems in lockdown era

Grocery list, bucket list, hit list. Doesn’t matter. Any list is an attempt to still the beating heart of chance. Mary Scott Buck, founder of the Calloway County Collective, can tell you all about it. Every day she makes a list and checks it more than twice, to mobilize a band of volunteers in a battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. “We got started because on my Facebook newsfeed I kept seeing...

Constance Alexander: Here’s to the incredible Class of 2020, may your memories live as long as you do

All over the country, teenagers are missing the pomp and circumstance associated with graduation. When schools closed in March, it was uncertain how long lockdown would last. Soon after, it became clear that staying home and social distancing were essential to prevent further onslaught of COVID-19. For the Class of 2020, school was out forever. No more homeroom, lockers, or lunch periods. Forget the...

Constance Alexander: As social distancing drags on, book club thrives in the company of busy women

Sex, religion, race, money, men, marriage, kids, murder, politics, abuse, abandonment, addiction, romance, and real-life are just some of the topics my book group tackles each month. If the reading selection does not address those issues, no problem. Fueled by words, wine, an array of sweet snacks and some chocolate, we manage to discuss the book at hand, while also touching on current events at home,...

Constance Alexander: Nickole Brown’s The Donkey Elegies offers praise to the unsung beasts of burden

The other morning at 6:15, I finally plucked The Donkey Elegies from my bedside table. I’d waited to indulge my passion for poetry until I could no longer tolerate “social distancing.” Fluffing up the pillows and yearning to be transported to a world away from COVID-19, I sank back in the covers to read Nickole Brown’s amazing chapbook. From page 1, the poet’s metaphors made the beasts come...

Constance Alexander: ‘Joy is always imperiled’ the fictional doctor said, but Gov. Beshear delivers hope

On December 30, a Chinese physician, Dr. Li Wenliang, 34, tried to alert fellow medics about the coronavirus outbreak in China’s Wuhan Province. His message to fellow doctors in a chat group warned them about the disease and advised that they wear protective clothing to avoid infection. Three days later police paid him a visit and told him to stop, as if it were a crime to inform the public of impending...

Constance Alexander: More than pride in a basketball team, writer cherishes Cuba Ky. for a ‘little hammer’

In 1993, Beth Belote attended a writing workshop at Calloway County Public Library. Participants were encouraged to sift through a lifetime of memories and come up with one that was particularly vivid. Then it was up to the writer to embellish the thought by adding sensory details and lively dialogue to flesh out the past. Beth Belote did a masterful job, but her family didn’t discover what she’d...

Constance Alexander: Despite our inability to be together, you can go home again, if you write a poem

One of the best of all four-letter words, HOME is where most of us have taken shelter for a couple of weeks, trying to stay healthy in seclusion from the COVID-19 Virus. For some, it feels like detention, a Ground Hog Day version of “The Breakfast Club.” Others have seized the opportunity for spring cleaning, bringing seasonal order to confined chaos. Parents have been busy, struggling to homeschool...

Constance Alexander: Celebrating Paducah’s Hotel Metropolitan, and the indomitable Maggie Steed

After Betty Dobson welcomed the Jackson Purchase Historical Society (JPHS) to Paducah’s Hotel Metropolitan for the organization’s March meeting, she stepped aside to let her alter-ego, Maggie Steed, talk about the landmark’s history. The original owner of The Metropolitan, Mrs. Steed landed in Paducah in the late 1800s. Before that, she’d worked in hotels in Indiana and Kentucky and understood...

Constance Alexander: Sisters’ printmaking inspires students through unique residency at Murray State

There was no sisterly squabbling or good-natured sibling rivalry last week when Carrie Lingscheit and Emmy Lingscheit served as artists in residence at Murray State University. Working in separate studios, the sister-artists were immersed in the process of editioning unique works of art, with the assistance of Professor Nicole Hand’s advanced printmaking class. Carrie Lingscheit’s intricate etching/mezzotint...

Constance Alexander: Mary Thorsby finds fulfillment in helping others discover direction at the end of Life

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Mary Thorsby has spunk. Spunk in a good way. Spunk with the same brand of energy and hope encompassed in the opening of the 1970s “Mary Tyler Moore Show.” Even if that decade is well before your time, you are likely to have seen a clip of the main character throwing her hat into the air as the theme song assures, “You’re gonna make it after all.” Again...

Constance Alexander: McCartney’s visit to former hometown brings back memories of days gone by

Teenagers in my hometown frequently declared they would “rather be dead” than stay in Metuchen, the small New Jersey borough we called home. Like so many young people everywhere, we harbored dreams of more glamorous lives. Determined to get away as soon as we had a chance, we dreamed of fleeing to places where houses were not identified by the names of long-ago owners; where no one would see you...

Constance Alexander: New poems by Kentucky’s Frank X Walker are born out of a churning cauldron

After the dedication to all survivors of father loss, readers of poet Frank X Walker’s new book — “Last Will, Last Testament” — are confronted with a startling statement: “In a family of secrets, he who asks hard questions sounds like a gun.” These compelling poems seesaw between fathers and sons, examining how those relationships pass sorrow and strength from one generation...