A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Constance Alexander: Forgoing the miracle of Fancy Farm by staying close to home for some reflection

Along with the 19,500 pounds of barbecue served up at the annual Fancy Farm picnic, there is enough hot air to lift the tiny town of 500 aloft. In just one day, the local population balloons to 10,000, and St. Jerome Catholic Church raises enough money to support church projects and finance local improvements. The raucous proceedings are not exactly the kind of thing one might associate with a saint....

Constance Alexander: Mark Twain might be pleased with this poetry celebration that’s ahead of its times

When Mark Twain declared, “When the end of the world comes, I want to be in Kentucky, because everything there happens 20 years after it happens anywhere else,” he had no way of knowing that one Kentucky community has taken the lead in observing April as National Poetry Month. For the second year in a row, the Calloway County Public Library is hosting a public reading of poems by Kentucky writers...

Kentucky by Heart: No shortage of inspirational quotes attributed to well-known Kentuckians

Editor’s Note: This column originally appeared at KyForward on January 3, 2017 By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist My dad used to say to me when I was growing up: “When in doubt, don’t.” I forgot his source for that bit of advice, but I have often recalled those words at appropriate times (though, frankly, I’ve not always heeded them). Fact is, focusing on people’s words can certainly...

Wendell Berry, NEH’s Jon Parrish Peede to speak at Kentucky Book Fair at noon on Saturday

Kentucky Humanities is pleased to welcome author Wendell Berry and NEH Chairman Jon Parrish Peede to the UK Main Stage at the Kentucky Book Fair on Saturday, November 17 at 12 noon. The Kentucky Book Fair will be held at the Kentucky Horse Park Alltech Arena.   Jon Parrish Peede was appointed Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities in 2017. His previous positions include Publisher of...

Kentucky Book Fair anchors week-long literary festival; more than 180 authors highlight iconic event

Kentucky Humanities will present the 37th annual Kentucky Book Fair on Nov. 17 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. Once held as a two-day event in Frankfort, the Kentucky Book Fair has found a new home in Lexington and expanded to a week-long festival (Nov. 12-17) with literary events for readers of all ages. The Kentucky Book Festival gives readers...

Bill Straub: Take Carrollton KY, a good, safe place to live (as it should be) but diverse with ‘darker’ people

Some years back, at least a quarter-century ago when the burley economy was still thriving, I spent a couple days in Carrollton to research an article on migrant labor. I recall driving toward the Ohio River at the northern edge of town one evening when I happened upon a grocery store, and not just any grocery store. It was painted in red and green and the signs out front were all in Spanish. In this...

Rural Blog: Wendell Berry suggests dairy industry cooperative could be solution to save family farms

To save their farms, struggling small dairies should consider banding together in a cooperative as tobacco farmers did decades ago, author and farmer Wendell Berry writes for the Henry County Local in Kentucky. In March, the Sentinel-News in nearby Shelbyville reported that Dean Foods ended its milk-procurement contracts with dozens of small dairy farmers in Kentucky, and others nationwide, as of May...

Constance Alexander: Film inspired by Kentucky writer Wendell Berry commands us to “Look & See”

“Is there a way to go back?” was the first question posed by a member of the audience after a recent one-time screening at Paducah’s Maiden Alley Cinema of “Look & See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry.” The provocative documentary featuring the renowned Kentucky writer, poet, teacher, farmer, and outspoken citizen of a lost landscape, begins with Berry’s lyrical narration of lines from...

Rural Blog: ‘Look and See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry’ documentary premiers in New York Friday

A film documenting the shifting values of rural America through the eyes of writer, farmer and activist Wendell Berry is set to premiere at the IFC Center in New York on June 30, reports Whitney Hale of the University of Kentucky. “Look and See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry” is the first documentary about Berry, one of America’s most prominent living writers. It was filmed in and around...

Kentucky by Heart: Writing room provides many opportunities for virtual trips, enriching experiences

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist My sweet spot for leisurely travel destinations is almost always centered within the state of Kentucky. I don’t feel deprived at all in saying so about what might seem to be such modest expectations; Kentucky is a special place that I can both enjoy and feel a sense of pride as I travel it. Call me simple in tastes, but it won’t matter a bit to me. There’s...

Kentucky by Heart: No shortage of inspirational quotes attributed to well-known Kentuckians

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist My dad used to say to me when I was growing up: “When in doubt, don’t.” I forgot his source for that bit of advice, but I have often recalled those words at appropriate times (though, frankly, I’ve not always heeded them). Fact is, focusing on people’s words can certainly have an effect on the way we act, and that can sometimes be a real positive. At other...

Kentucky by Heart: One man’s top 10 bucket list of books not to be missed — what are your favorites?

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist My love of reading Kentucky-related books, particularly non-fiction, started as a child. Inspired by my father’s interest in showing our small family the people and places of the state, I devoured the biographies in the tiny Grant’s Lick Elementary School library dealing with the Commonwealth. I read books about Daniel Boone, Abraham Lincoln, Henry Clay, Mary...

Kentucky by Heart: Murray State historian Duane Bolin approaches each day with joy

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist The first time I met Dr. Duane Bolin, history professor at Murray State University since 1996, was when we participated in a special book signing event in Frankfort a few years ago. It involved Kentucky Monthly writers who had also authored books. I quickly found Duane to have a friendly spirit and a deep, working knowledge of Kentucky’s history. That interested...

Rural Blog: St. Catharine College closing due to funding; U.S. Education Department dispute cited

When the only women’s college in Kentucky announced last month that it would admit men as resident students for the first time, the president of Midway University indicated it was a move for survival in “challenging times for private higher education.” His point was illustrated in another small Kentucky town Wednesday, as Saint Catharine College near Springfield announced that it...

Constance Alexander: It’s springtime in Kentucky and there’s plenty to love about poetry

Ask me to give a talk in April, and it’s poetry you’ll be hearing, no matter what. And if the topic is announced to the group in advance, some will manufacture a flimsy reason to skip the event. Others smile in anticipation as they put the date on the calendar because, in some deep recess of the brain, you secretly love poetry. It’s buried deep in your pockets, tucked in the cushions of the...

Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group annual conference set for Lexington next week

The Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (SAWG) annual conference is scheduled Jan. 27-30 in Lexington, Ky. SAWG, which operates in 13 states in the South—Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia—”was founded in 1991 to foster a movement toward a more sustainable farming and food...

Kentucky author Wendell Berry selected for Lifetime Achievement Award from National Book Critics Circle

Renowned Kentucky farmer-author-poet-philosopher Wendell Berry will receive the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement award from the National Book Critics Circle, states the organization. Wendell Berry (Photo from Rural Blog) “Now 81 and still productive, Berry is the author of eight novels, two short story collections, 28 volumes of poetry and 31 volumes of nonfiction. Set in the imaginary town...

It’s an ‘all-star lineup,’ with Wendell Berry as the headliner, at this year’s Kentucky Book Fair

Renowned essayist, novelist and poet Wendell Berry heads an “all-star lineup” for the 34th annual Kentucky Book Fair. Berry will be among more than 200 international, national and state authors and illustrators at the state’s premier literary event on Saturday, Nov. 14, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Frankfort Convention Center. The fifth annual Kids and Teens Day, featuring more than...

‘In failing the Earth, we are failing humanity,’ Prince Charles says during Louisville visit

In a whirlwind visit to Louisville this past Friday, Prince Charles highlighted issues related to sustainability and local food. In a speech at Cathedral of the Assumption, the heir to the British throne told the audience that Earth can’t afford to keep supporting a consumerist society. A transcript of his speech, which was introduced by Wendell Berry, follows:     * * * * * * * * *...

In Rare Form: Black Swan Books weathers changing landscape to celebrate 30 years

Black Swan Books owner Michael Courtney is celebrating the store’s 30th anniversary with a limited edition poem letter-pressed with handset type on handmade paper. (Photo by Alan Cornett)