A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

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...

Constance Alexander: Honoring the past and inspiring the future this Black History Month

Douglass High School, a historic educational institution of Calloway County does not show up in many official accounts of the past. An exception happens every year in early August, when the African American school from the Jim Crow era celebrates its reunion and local media cover the stories. Last year was the fiftieth, and a committee of devoted alums put together a booklet emblazoned with a crest...

Constance Alexander: New Murray State exhibits celebrate creativity, visual cacophony, and silence

On a rainy winter day, a cold mist slaps you in the face as you make way from the parking lot to the tall building at 15th and Olive. The vision of a roaring fire, a cup of hot tea, and a good book seem more appealing than almost anything else, but my destination is Murray State University’s Clara M. Eagle Gallery, on the 6th floor of the Price Doyle Fine Arts Building. The exhibitions of works by...

Constance Alexander: Exploring the power of Alzheimer’s through metaphor and medicine

The official description is bleak: Alzheimer’s is a progressive disorder that causes brain cells to waste away and die. But Eugenia Zuckerman, who has been diagnosed with the disorder, sees it another way. In her memoir about coping with the dreaded condition, she compares the experience to falling through a cloud. Internationally known as a flutist and a writer, Ms. Zuckerman is also known to...

Constance Alexander: Louisville native Bernard Clay is on his way with first poetry collection ‘English Lit’

The woman on the cover of Bernard Clay’s first book of poems has stars in her eyes. Literally. Perhaps she is enchanted by glitz and glamor and dreams of celebrity, or maybe she looks to the future with high expectations. The blurbs on the cover of “English Lit” — from four distinguished Kentucky writers – are more down to earth than starry-eyed: Fellow Affrilachian poet Frank X Walker...

Constance Alexander: Fahrenheit 451 sparks programs about literacy, public libraries, free speech

For a man who wrote stories that make spines tingle and raise hairs on the back of the neck, author Ray Bradbury was a just a regular guy. Sure, he had a fabulous imagination and earned worldwide renown, but his beginnings were humble, his tastes simple, his education unique. “I spent three days a week for 10 years educating myself in the public library,” he said, “and it’s better than college....

Kentucky Humanities adds KyForward columnist Constance Alexander as featured speaker to its roster

KyForward columnist Constance Alexander, award-winning columnist, poet, and playwright from Murray, was chosen by Kentucky Humanities as a presenter, statewide, on the organization’s Speakers Roster. Alexander has been a featured speaker since 2009. In 2020, her two presentations focus specifically on Kentucky topics. One relates to Kentucky poets and their works, and the other highlights the experiences...

Constance Alexander: Ideas abound for columns, as does thirst for justice, especially for accessibility

Fifty columns, averaging about 700 words each, add up to 35,000 words for “Main Street” 2019. Readers ask if coming up with topics is difficult, and the answer is no. In fact, there is too much to write about; ideas abound. In the past few years, “Main Street” has showcased examples of Accessibility, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA, one of America’s most comprehensive...

Constance Alexander: The long, winding road to recovery begins with admitting there’s a problem

A blazing sun lights the path to recovery but the route is not straight or narrow. As depicted in the logo of Serenity Recovery, the road curves toward the horizon before it reaches the vanishing point. The image is an apt representation for the work of the non-profit organization, which offers an intensive 12-month outpatient program that leads alcoholics and addicts through a rigorous course designed...

Constance Alexander: I fail at Christmas cookie exchanges, even using the foolproof, easiest recipes

Christmas cookie exchange. The words spark my “flight or flight” response. And that’s not a typo. Over the years, I have learned that flight is my only option when an invite to one of those gatherings shows up. I have finally reconciled myself to the fact that I am unable to participate successfully in a soiree of sweetness where you bake one kind of cookie and swap with the other guests who...

Constance Alexander: Celebrating simple gifts this holiday by sharing “A Christmas Memory”

If the third time is truly a charm, the Calloway County Public Library can take pride in launching a holiday ritual that is taking firm hold on the community. For the third year in a row, the library is inviting volunteers to come together for a program called, “Simple Gifts,” an oral reading of a favorite holiday story. This year, community reading is scheduled for Tuesday, December 17, at 6 pm....

Constance Alexander: Aging with grace is a stretch, despite the many claims to the contrary

As the barista leans across the counter with my first coffee of the day, she gestures toward me with her free hand. “Love your necklace,” she says. My fingertips graze the slender silver rope I threw on at the last minute before leaving home, the best I could do to cheer up my dreary ensemble. Top to bottom, eyeglass frames to the toes of my boots, I am garbed in all black. Full ninja. “When...

Constance Alexander: The simple gift of reading brings peace on earth during Christmas season

In Iceland during World War II, foreign imports were restricted and gift options were scarce. Even though paper was cheap, such a small country could not support a year-round publishing industry. As a result, book publishers flooded the market with new titles in the final weeks of the year, thus launching the Icelandic tradition of Jólabókaflóð. To make the Christmas Eve tradition possible, the...

Constance Alexander: Sobering statistics reveal the stark realities surrounding the lives of caregivers

One in five. At least 20 hours. Fifty-eight percent. The statistics regarding caregiving are stark. To put a finer point on the numbers: One in five adults are caregivers. Thirty percent of them provide care for at least 20 hours per week. Fifty-eight percent are women who manage other household tasks and also assist with varying levels of personal care, sometimes around the clock. Putting an even...

Constance Alexander: Our votes matter, casting them is the least we can do; see you at the polls!

Susan Shea won the poster contest; Kay Williamson and I came in second. We felt gypped. Our entry was better by far. All Susan did was to cut a photo of a blindfolded man from Life magazine and write the caption, “Don’t Vote Blind” in thick black crayon. Kay and I had developed a cartoon-like storyboard that promoted the importance of voting, using a pair of stick figures fashioned from brightly...