FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky Poet Laureate Frank X Walker will deliver the keynote address and read from his work at the Kentucky State University Black History Month celebration.

The celebration will be held Feb. 4 at 11 a.m. in the Carl H. Smith Auditorium in Bradford Hall on the university's campus in Frankfort. A book signing will immediately follow the event. The celebration is free and open to the public.

"It is always a pleasure to be at the institution that my grandmother earned her teaching degree from," said Walker. "I always feel close to her as soon as I step foot on campus."

Gov. Steve Beshear named Walker as Kentucky poet laureate for 2013-14. He is the first African-American and youngest Kentuckian to be named poet laureate. Walker is an associate professor of English at the University of Kentucky and the editor of Pluck! The Journal of Affrilachian Arts & Culture. A Lannan Literary Fellowship for Poetry recipient, he is the author of six collections of poetry, including "Buffalo Dance: The Journey of York," which won the Lillian Smith Book Award, and "Isaac Murphy: I Dedicate This Ride."

"We are excited to present poet laureate Frank X Walker at Kentucky State University," said KSU President Mary Evans Sias. "I am positive the KSU and Frankfort communities will both appreciate and enjoy the unique cultural perspectives and poetry of this very talented artist."

Walker's most recent work, "Turn Me Loose: The Unghosting of Medgar Evers" has been nominated for an NAACP Image Award. He was nominated in the category of Outstanding Literary Work – Poetry. The awards highlight achievements in art, entertainment, politics and culture.

Published by the University of Georgia Press in 2013, the year marking the 50th anniversary of Evers' assassination while he was an NAACP field secretary, "Turn Me Loose" unleashes the strong emotions both before and after the moment of Evers' death. Poems take on the voices of Evers' widow, Myrlie; his brother, Charles; his assassin, Byron De La Beckwith; and others.

Kentucky State University was founded in 1886 as a school dedicated to the sole purpose of training teachers for the African-American school-age population. More than 125 years later, KSU has expanded its mission to offer students a liberal arts education that prepares a diverse student population to compete in a multifaceted, ever-changing global society. KSU is also a land-grant institution with programs to study and address agricultural and family life issues offered through the College of Agriculture, Food Science and Sustainable Systems. It has one of the top aquaculture programs, a Program of Distinction, which is recognized nationally and internationally. Overall, KSU's faculty and staff work to serve the community through educational programs and research that address the issues and needs of the state, region and nation.

The Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency, creates opportunities for Kentuckians to value, participate in and benefit from the arts. Kentucky Arts Council funding is provided by the Kentucky General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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