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A&S Authors Highlight 2021 Kentucky Book Festival Schedule

By Danielle Donham

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 29, 2021) — The 40th annual Kentucky Book Festival returns to Lexington with a mix of virtual and in-person events scheduled from Monday, Nov. 1, to Saturday, Nov. 6. This year’s celebration features 140 authors, culminating in a daylong celebration at Joseph-Beth Booksellers on Saturday, Nov. 6. The weekdays events are a mix of in-person and ticketed events available at

These signings, conversations, trivia, meals, presentations and activities serve to celebrate the literary heritage within the Commonwealth. The University of Kentucky is the Main Stage sponsor of the festival on Nov. 6.

Authors and editors from the University Press of Kentucky and UK, including College of Engineering alumnus and former UK trustee James HardymonCollege of Arts and Sciences and Lewis Honors College alumna and chef Ouita Michel, and College of Arts and Sciences faculty member and Kentucky Poet Laureate Crystal Wilkinson, will participate in various events during the festival. 

Authors: Nonfiction

Authors: Fiction and Poetry 

  • Bernard Clay, author of “English Lit.” Clay is a graduate of the UK Creative Writing Program and a member of the Affrilachian Poets collective.
  • Bobbie Ann Mason, author of “Dear Ann: A Novel.” Mason is a graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences, former writer-in-residence at UK and winner of two Southern Book Awards.
  • Crystal Wilkinson, author of “Perfect Black.” Wilkinson is a College of Arts and Sciences faculty member and Kentucky Poet Laureate. 
  • Ed McClanahan, author of “Juanita and the Frog Prince.” McClanahan is a graduate of UK and frequently guest lectures creative writing workshops on campus.
  • Frank X Walker, author of “Black Box: Poems.” Walker is a professor and the director of the MFA program for English in the Department of English in the College of Arts and Sciences. He is also a former Poet Laureate of Kentucky and founder of the Affrilachian Poets.
  • Gurney Norman, author of “Allegiance.” Norman is a UK graduate and professor of English in the College of Arts and Sciences as well as a former Kentucky Poet Laureate. 
  • Shawn Pryor, author of “Free Throw Contest.” Pryor is a computer support specialist for the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment School of Human Environmental Sciences.
  • Silas House, author of “Clay’s Quilt.” Silas is the 2021 recipient of the Kentucky Governor’s Award for his service to the arts in his home state.

Other events featuring UK authors include:

A program of Kentucky Humanities, the Kentucky Book Festival is a celebration of reading, writing and publishing which takes place each November. Festival events seek to connect booklovers and authors, spark engaging conversations and empower readers by providing access to new books as well as opportunities to learn more about writing in a fun, safe environment. It’s the biggest bookish celebration in Kentucky! 

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.