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The Birds of Opulence: An Evening Discussion

Join Marianne Worthington for a Kentucky Reads book club discussion of Crystal Wilkinson’s, The Birds of Opulence on Thursday October 7th, 2021 at 7:00 PM. This will be a virtual event hosted by The Makery at Hindman Settlement School in partnership with the Kentucky Humanities Council.  

As part of Kentucky Humanities Council’s Kentucky Reads, The Birds of Opulence will be at the center of statewide conversations on the dynamics of family and community, strength of women, Black farmers, and the stigma surrounding mental illness. Published by the University Press of Kentucky, The Birds of Opulence is the winner of the 2016 Ernest J. Gaines Prize for Literary Excellence. The Birds of Opulence centers on several generations of women in a bucolic southern black township as they live with and sometimes surrender to madness. Crystal Wilkinson offers up Opulence and its people in lush, poetic detail. It is a world of magic, conjuring, signs, and spells, but also of harsh realities that only love—and love that’s handed down can conquer. At once tragic and hopeful, this captivating novel is a story about another time, rendered for our own.

About the Author

Crystal Wilkinson

Crystal Wilkinson, Kentucky’s Poet Laureate, is the award-winning author of Perfect Black, The Birds of Opulence , Water Street and Blackberries, Blackberries. She is the recipient of a 2021 O. Henry Prize, a 2020 USA Artists Fellowship, and a 2016 Ernest J. Gaines Prize for Literary Excellence. Nominated for the John Dos Passos Award, the Orange Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, she has received recognition from the Yaddo Foundation, Hedgebrook, The Vermont Studio Center for the Arts, Hedgebrook, and others. Her short stories, poems and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including most recently in The Kenyon Review, STORY, Agni Literary Journal, Emergence, Oxford American and Southern Cultures.  Her fourth book Perfect Black is forthcoming from University Press of Kentucky in August 2021. She currently teaches at the University of Kentucky where she is Associate Professor of English in the MFA in Creative Writing Program.

About the Host

Marianne Worthington

Marianne Worthington is a poet, editor, and educator. She is editor and co-founder of Still: The Journal, an online literary magazine publishing writers, artists, and musicians with ties to Appalachia since 2009. Her work has appeared in Oxford American, CALYX, Shenandoah, Chapter 16, Feed, HeartWood, and in several literary anthologies, among other places. She received the Al Smith Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council and artist’s grants from the Kentucky Foundation for Women and the Appalachian Sound Archives Fellowship.

She co-edited, with Silas House, Piano in a Sycamore: Writing Lessons from the Appalachian Writers’ Workshop and is author of a poetry chapbook, Larger Bodies Than Mine. Her poetry collection is The Girl Singer from Fireside Industries/University Press of Kentucky. She grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee and lives, writes, and teaches in southeast Kentucky.

You can find her on Twitter @m__worthington and at her website:https://marianneworthington.com/