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African American Literature Conference to be Held at Ferrum Nov. 18 & 19

For immediate release:
October 31, 2005

 Dean Browell ,  (540) 365-4301,

    Live it, Write it, Teach it is the theme of the second African American Literature Conference to be held November 18 and 19 at Ferrum College. Affrilachian poet and multidisciplinary artist Frank X. Walker will be the keynote speaker of this year’s conference.

    Walker is the former assistant director of the Black Cultural Center at Purdue University, where he served as writer in residence for the Haraka Writers and worked with student performance ensembles in dance, drama and choral music. He is currently assistant professor of English and interim director of the African/African-American studies program at Eastern Kentucky University. He has lectured, conducted workshops, read poetry and exhibited at over 250 national conferences and universities including the Verbal Arts Centre in Derry, Northern Ireland; Santiago, Cuba; University of California at Berkeley; Notre Dame; Louisiana State University at Alexandria; University of Washington; Virginia Tech; Radford University; and Appalachian State University.

     Walker's administrative background includes working as the program coordinator at the Martin Luther King Jr. Cultural Center at the University of Kentucky and being the founder and executive director of the Bluegrass Black Arts Consortium, the former home of Message Theatre and the Affrilachian Poets. He has also served as an artist-in-residence for the Alabama State Arts Council and as director of the NIA Institute in Birmingham, where he coordinated the curriculum and activities for youth summer camps in Birmingham, Atlanta and Lexington, KY.

     A founding member of the Affrilachian Poets, he is the author of Affrilachia, a collection of poems that has recently been nominated for the Kentucky Public Librarians' Choice Award. Walker has recently completed two new poetry collections — Black Box and Buffalo Dance, the Journey of York. Buffalo Dance is written in the voice of York, the slave who accompanied his master, William Clark, on the Lewis & Clark expedition.

     The conference is held in conjunction with the African American Literature class being taught at Ferrum this semester by Dr. Katherine Grimes, associate professor of English. Grimes designed the course at Ferrum over ten years ago. In collaboration with the Office of Multicultural Education, the conference seeks to give students in the course the opportunity to present papers about the culture and writings of noted African Americans.

     In addition to student papers and posters and a reading and keynote address by Frank X Walker, this year’s conference will offer a children’s literature session as well as a panel discussion on rap music and the African American literary tradition.

     The conference will begin Friday evening at 7:00 with student poster presentations followed by readings from works of Frank X Walker at 7:30 in Grousbeck Hall. A reception and book signing will follow. Saturday activities begin at 9:30 a.m. with student presentations and a panel discussion. The luncheon keynote speech with Frank X Walker will begin at 12:30, concurrently with the children’s literature interactive session. The conference is free and open to the public. Lunch will be provided by ticket only. Call 365-4352 before November 14 to request your lunch ticket.

For more information, contact Bettye Buckingham, Ferrum’s director of multicultural education, at 365-4352.
     Ferrum College is a four-year, private, co-educational, liberal arts college affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Ferrum offers a choice of nationally recognized bachelor’s degree programs at a cost well below the national average for private colleges. For more information on Ferrum, visit



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