Monday, September 21, 2009

Kentucky's poet laureate takes his inspirational messages about writing to towns large and small

Kentucky's poet laureate and celebrated Appalachian author Gurney Norman, right, is spreading his message about writing across the state. Norman spoke to 20 public school teachers in Louisville last week, teaching them how to inspire their students to write, Elizabeth Kramer of WPFL Radio reports. He already led workshops at the Spring Writers Conference in Hazard in May, and will visit the rural towns of Cynthiana, Greenville, Pineville and Glasgow in coming weeks.

Norman worked as a reporter at his hometown Hazard Herald in the 1960s before publishing his first novel, Divine Right's Trip, in 1971. His work has been classified as regional and nostalgic, Kramer reports, but Norman has a different view: "“I do view the world through the prism of local awareness,” he says. “To know one place well is a starting place to know the whole world.” Norman has been an associate professor of English at the University of Kentucky since 1979.

Norman was inspiring young authors long before being given his new title in April. “Gurney has had so much influence doing writing workshops across Kentucky,” Lost Mountain author Eric Reece told Kramer. “You can’t swing a dead cat in Eastern Kentucky without hitting somebody who’s been inspired by Gurney.” (Read more)

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