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Seven writers added to Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame, including a monk and a prisoner


Etheridge Knight (Photo from Poetry Foundation)

Etheridge Knight (Photo from Poetry Foundation)

 
The Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning inducted its second class of seven writers into the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame including, for the first time, a children’s author, a spiritual writer, a historian and the first writer connected to a political movement.
 
Rebecca Caudill, from Adair County, was a children’s book author; Thomas Merton, from Nelson County, was a monk, a mystic and a writer of spiritual material; Thomas D. Clark, from Fayette County, was one of the state’s most prolific and recognized historical writer; and Etheridge Knight, from McCracken County, was a poet who wrote about racism, particularly in the criminal justice system, after being sentenced to a prison term of 10-25 years for a purse snatching.
 

Thomas Merton (Photo from Wikimedia)

Thomas Merton (Photo from Wikimedia)

The other three writers inducted into the 2014 Hall of Fame were: Janice Holt Giles, from Adair County, who wrote a trilogy about the settling of Kentucky including The Kentuckians and The Believers; James Baker Hall, who lived in Harrison and Scott counties, was a poet, novelist, photographer, teacher and Kentucky Poet Laureate; and Jesse Stuart, from Greenup County, who was one of the most popular Appalachian novelists of the 20th century and known for works such as Taps for Private Tussie and The Thread that Runs So True.
 
“This year’s group of inductees shows the enormous range of Kentucky’s outstanding writers,” said Neil Chethik, executive director of the Carnegie Center, which created the Hall of Fame in 2013. “Last year, we honored mostly poets and fiction writers. This year, we can see how many different kinds of Kentucky writers have excelled through the years.”
 
Chethik said, “Kentucky has a 200-year legacy of writing excellence. Some say our land inspires people to write. Others say it’s our history of conflict – north vs. south, rural vs. urban, Hatfield vs. McCoy; every story needs conflict. Whatever the reason, the Hall of Fame is here to honor the great ones of the past and inspire the stars of the future.”
 

   Jesse Stuart (Photo from JSFoundation)

Jesse Stuart (Photo from JSFoundation)

Selection to the Hall of Fame involved a three-step process: 1) nominations from the general public; 2) recommendations from a committee chaired by Lori Meadows, director of the Kentucky Arts Council, and including former state poets laureate; and 3) final selection by the Carnegie Center’s Hall of Fame Creation Committee.
 
For a writer to have been eligible this year, he/she must be 1) deceased; 2) published; 3) someone whose writing is of enduring stature; and 4) someone connected in a significant way to the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
 
The Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame was created to recognize Kentucky writers whose work reflects the character and culture of the Commonwealth, and to educate Kentuckians about the state’s rich literary heritage.
 
This is the second year of the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame. The 2013 inductees were: Harriette Arnow, William Wells Brown, Harry Caudill, Elizabeth Madox Roberts, James Still and Robert Penn Warren.
 
From Carnegie Center


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