By Akhira Umar

University of Kentucky English professor Frank X Walker poses for a portrait in his office on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020, at the Patterson office tower in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

In 1991, South Carolina native Nikky Finney came to Lexington to perform at a poetry reading titled, “The Best of Southern Writing.”

Before Finney, who is black, was added to the list of performers, the event was called, “The Best of Appalachian Writing.”

Danville native Frank X Walker, a UK English professor and former Poet Laureate of Kentucky, was conflicted about the name change.

He wondered why this change was made and found that the definition of Appalachians at the time was, “white residents of the mountainous regions of Appalachia.”

Moved by this, he crafted a poem using the word “Affrilachian” for the first time

By Ann Blackford 

UK student is recognized with honors at the 2019 Student Support Services awards ceremony. Student Support Services is one of the Women & Philanthropy grant recipients. Pete Comparoni | UK Photo.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 10, 2020) — The Women & Philanthropy Network at the University of Kentucky recently awarded $227,250 to six academic initiatives at UK. This brings their lifetime grants to more than $2.2 million.

The Women & Philanthropy Network at UK was formed in 2007 to motivate and foster women as leaders, donors and advocates for UK. This group of women created a new culture of service and philanthropy through their gifts of time, talent and resources.

Individuals contribute $1,000 annually (


By Jenny Wells-Hosley

The Appalachian Studies Association conference, which was scheduled to take place this week at the University of Kentucky, has been canceled due to circumstances surrounding COVID-19. The following message was sent from the ASA to its members and registrants yesterday:

"We are writing to tell you that after much consideration and discussion we have determined that cancelling the ASA conference is the right thing to do in light of the circumstances with coronavirus. The Steering Committee has a lot of work to do to evaluate the consequences of this decision and we will be discussing this in the days ahead. We are grateful to the UK administration and especially the planning committee who have organized an amazing conference.

We are sorry that this had to happen,


Eastern Standard is a radio magazine of interviews and stories about interesting people, places and things happening in central and Appalachian Kentucky.

Dr. Kathy Newfont, an associate professor of history at the University of Kentucky, chairs the 43rd annual conference of the Appalachian Studies Association happening March 12-15 at UK.

To listent the interview please click here



Kathryn Newfont joins us for this week's episode of THINK HUMANITIES to tell us about the upcoming 43rd Appalachian Studies Conference taking place at the University of Kentucky. The conference theme is "Appalachian Understories: Growing Hope and Resilience from Commonwealth to Global Commons" and will be taking place March 12 - 15.

To listent the Podcast please click here



By Will Wright

McAfee Knob in Virginia, Mount Katahdin, Maine, and the Grayson Highlands of Virginia are three of the multiple landmarks Wright encountered along the Appalachian Trail.

The driveway that leads from Route 15 to Riverside Park in Whitesburg is easy to miss.

It peels off from the main road and leads down to a gravel parking lot cozied up along the bank of the North Fork Kentucky River.

On a Sunday afternoon last fall, Patty Amburgey stood here and thought about her husband.


His name is one of dozens etched on a black memorial stone erected in October to honor coal miners who worked in the surrounding mountains and died of black lung disease.

Like many other widows in Eastern Kentucky, Amburgey spent the last years of her husband’s life caring for him as the


By Brianna Stanley

This year marks two firsts in the Appalachian Studies Association conference’s 43-year history — the first time it’s being held at UK and the first time it’s had a main focus on the forests of the region.

The theme of this year’s ASA conference, “Appalachian Understories: Growing Hope and Resilience from Commonwealth to Global Commons,” refers not only to the understory of the forest ecologically speaking, but also to the stories of beauty, cultural pride and growth in Appalachia that are so often overshadowed by derogatory stereotypes.

Isabel Jenkins

Within a forest context, an “understory” is the biodiverse plant, animal, and fungus life that exists below the tree canopy, often growing partially in shadow. It’s the overlooked nutrient-rich leaf litter, the mosses and acorns and soils, the seedlings striving towards the


By Dan Radmacher

Census workers will only visit residences in person if the household does not respond to repeated mailings. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau

Money and power.

Those are the stakes for residents of Appalachia as the U.S. Census Bureau conducts the 2020 decennial census — which will help determine how roughly $1 trillion in federal funding is distributed over the next 10 years as well as which states lose congressional representatives and which gain them.

“The Census count guides federal funding for more than 300 programs,” says Kelly Allen, West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy’s director of policy engagement. Those programs include school lunches, food stamps, children’s health insurance, Head Start, Medicare, Medicaid and the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program, among other services such as roads.

Because the


By Sarah Michels


In the days before Spring Break, UK’s campus usually goes silent, a ghost town somewhat reminiscent of a post-zombie apocalyptic society.

But not this year.

From Thursday, March 12, to Sunday, March 15, hundreds of students and faculty, from UK and other nearby universities, will spend the last days before their mid-semester vacation celebrating everything Appalachia.


For the first time ever, UK’s College of Arts and Sciences is hosting the Annual Appalachian Studies Association (ASA) Conference in Lexington. The four-day event, in its 43rd year, is a combination of scholarly and activist activity, community engagement, music, crafts and more, said Jennifer Cramer, the program chair for the ASA Conference.

“Technically UK is not in Appalachia, but as one of our colleagues likes to say, ‘

A photo of Jillean McCommons discussing a topic in front of a white board.

By Jenny Wells-Hosley 

In just a few weeks, the University of Kentucky will welcome students, scholars and activists to campus for the 43rd annual Appalachian Studies Association (ASA) conference March 12-15. Themed "Appalachian Understories," the conference will emphasize the often obscured voices of the region, including black Appalachians.

Jillean McCommons, a doctoral student in the UK College of Arts and Sciences' Department of History, studies black Appalachian history and is serving as an organizer for the upcoming conference. One of the conference's four plenaries, "Black Appalachian Women: Testimonies,


By Jenny Wells-Hosley

The conference will take place March 12-15 in the UK Gatton Student Center. In collaboration with the ASA, the conference is being presented by UK's Appalachian Center, College of Arts and Sciences and Graduate Appalachian Research Community (GARC).

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 7, 2020) — Next month, the University of Kentucky will host, for the first time, the Appalachian Studies Association (ASA) conference on its campus. 


By Jenny Wells-Hosley

Gurney Norman is a professor of English and scholar-in-residence at the UK Appalachian Center. Photo courtesy of Morris Grubbs.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 24, 2020) — The University of Kentucky Appalachian Center is pleased to announce that its scholar-in-residence, Gurney Norman, will continue his "Conversations with Gurney" speaker series this spring. The series features premier authors from the Appalachian region.

The series will kick off 5 p.m. Monday, Jan. 27, with Willie Davis, author of the novel "Nightwolf." The event will take place in the Davis Marksbury Building's James F. Hardymon Theater.

A native of Whitesburg, Kentucky, Davis earned graduate degrees in creative writing from


By Jenny Wells-Hosley

Some of the UK Appalachian Center's 2019 award recipients. Applications for the 2020 James S. Brown Graduate Student Award for Research on Appalachia and for the 2020 UK Appalachian Center Eller & Billings Student Research Award are both due Feb. 17.

The University of Kentucky Appalachian Center is currently offering awards and funding opportunities for students and faculty involved with work and research in the Appalachian region.

Applications for the 2020 James S. Brown Graduate Student Award for Research on Appalachia and applications for the 2020 UK


By Jenny Wells-Hosley

Next week, the University of Kentucky Appalachian Center will host UK's annual Water Week, a student-led series of events designed to bring awareness to water-related issues in Eastern Kentucky and beyond. The events will showcase issues relating to ecology, infrastructure and bottled water, and highlight organizations working on water-related issues.

Madison Mooney, a graduate student in the UK College of Social Work and intern for the Appalachian Center (based in UK's College of Arts and Sciences), is helping organize this year's event. She has worked firsthand in her hometown in Martin County, Kentucky, where water quality and


By Jenny Wells-Hosley

Gurney Norman (left) featured author Robert Gipe last semester as part of the UK Appalachian Center's "Conversations with Gurney" speaker series. Photo courtesy of Morris Grubbs.

The University of Kentucky Appalachian Center is pleased to announce that its scholar-in-residence, Gurney Norman, will continue his "Conversations with Gurney" speaker series this semester. The series features premier authors from the Appalachian region.

The series will kick off at 5 p.m. Monday, Sept. 23, with former Kentucky Poet Laureate George Ella Lyon. The event will take place in the John Jacob Niles Gallery in the Little Fine Arts Library and Learning


By Madison Brown

Proposals and award nominations for the 2020 Appalachian Studies Association (ASA) conference are now open through Oct. 7. The conference will take place March 12-15, 2020, on the University of Kentucky campus.

The 2020 program committee openly invites proposals for panels, papers, posters, performances, roundtables or workshops. Proposals will be judged by whether they discuss a relevant topic and current approach for the Appalachian region, the clarity of their proposal and whether it contributes to providing a multiplicity of perspectives and content.  All proposal submissions require an abstract or summary, participant contact information, a notice of any special requirements and a short biography for each participant. All proposals must be submitted online through the ASA website


By Beth Bowling

The University of Kentucky Center of Excellence in Rural Health (CERH) has released the agenda for the fifth annual Appalachian Research Day: Come Sit on the Porch.  The one-day event, which shares results of health research conducted with communities in Appalachia, will be held Wednesday, Sept. 18 at the First Federal Center in Hazard. Registration for the event closes on Sept. 12. 

UK researchers work closely with communities throughout Appalachia to learn more about health issues and improve wellbeing. Appalachian Research Day is an opportunity to highlight community-based research that begins at the local level and builds upon relationships between people, neighborhoods and groups who have common interests and concerns.

Highlights of this year’s conference include:

Understanding and Improving Health: Lessons from Kentucky and America’s

By Whitney Hale


Watch Stephanie Jeter and Andy Duckworth, two members of The High Tops, perform "Red Headed Stranger."

The popular "Appalachia in the Bluegrass"concert series will return to University of Kentucky's campus this fall. The series showcasing the music of Appalachia will open Sept. 6 with a performance by The High Tops.

Concerts presented as part of “Appalachia in the Bluegrass” are free and open to the public and begin weekly at noon on Fridays, in the Niles Gallery of the John Jacob Niles Center for American Music, located at UK's Lucille C. Little Fine Arts


By Jenny Wells

Students and faculty affiliated with the University of Kentucky’s Appalachian CenterCollege of Arts and Sciences and Graduate Appalachian Research Community (GARC) are partnering with the Appalachian Studies Association (ASA) to host its 43rd annual conference March 12-15, 2020, on the UK campus.

The conference, titled “Appalachian Understories: Growing Hope and Resilience from Commonwealth to Global Commons,” will engage in conversations about Appalachian forests, black Appalachians, women, gender and sexuality, health and healing, and hope spots. Oral history, film-making, literature, music,


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