‘The Birds of Opulence’ to be focus of program

By Bill McCann

Sun columnist

2021 Kentucky Reads

Kentucky Humanities has selected Crystal Wilkinson’s “The Birds of Opulence” (University Press of Kentucky) for its statewide literacy program 2021 Kentucky Reads.

The novel will be at the center of statewide conversations on the dynamics of family and community, the strength of women and the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Any non-profit organization in Kentucky, including churches, can host a discussion of “The Birds of Opulence” for a booking fee of $50. Each host organization will be provided with 15 copies of the novel to share among participating members.

Publicity materials to promote the discussion will also be provided. Host organizations will determine if their scheduled discussion will be held in-person or virtually. More information about this program is available at www.kentuckyhumanities.org

“Crystal Wilkinson’s beautiful and timely novel will encourage important conversations throughout the state that help us look at what it means to be from a place and to focus us all on seeing our commonalities rather than focusing on what separates us,” said Bill Goodman, Kentucky Humanities executive director.

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.

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.

Wilkinson is the award-winning author of “The Birds of Opulence,” “Water Street” and “Blackberries, Blackberries.” Nominated for both the Orange Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, she has received recognition from The Kentucky Foundation for Women, The Kentucky Arts Council, The Mary Anderson Center for the Arts and The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. She is a recipient of the Chaffin Award for Appalachian Literature. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and her short stories, poems and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including most recently in the Oxford American and Southern Cultures. She currently teaches at the University of Kentucky where she is an associate professor of English in the MFA Creative Writing Program.

Now accepting submissions

“The Uncommon Grackle,” published by the Gateway Regional Art Center in Mount Sterling, is accepting original flash fiction of up to 1,000 words, short stories from 1,000 to 4,000 words, and poetry of reasonable length in any genre  for its next issue. Art and photography are limited to black and white reproduction at this time. Deadline for submissions is Feb. 28.

All submissions must be submitted online, via their Green Submissions portal, which requires an email address. Signup at http://bit.ly/GRACkle.

Submit only one story, one image or piece of art, or up to three poems per artist per reading period.

They accept text submissions by copy and paste (in the submissions portal) or by attachment: .doc, .docx, .txt or .rtf files only. Art and photos should be attached as high resolution .jpg files.

Submissions submitted elsewhere are accepted but please let them know. If it must be pulled from consideration, let them know as soon as possible.

Read and comply with all of the publication’s submission guidelines including, but not limited to: “no fan fiction, vampires or zombies, please. We’re not that type of publication. While we don’t mind horrific situations, we do not publish true horror, grindhouse or gruesome tales. (Think Stephen King, not chainsaw massacre.) Science fiction should be about characters and emotions, rather than ships and laser battles. And, we do not publish erotica or erotic scenes in any genre.”

According to Allan Barlow, managing director of Ragged Edge Community Theatre in Harrodsburg, the theatre is accepting submissions of new play scripts through April 1.

“We are looking for family friendly full-length plays to be considered for our second New Works Festival.” Barlow said. “We’ll read and consider all (submissions), but preference will be given to Kentucky authors/Kentucky stories.“

Hard copies of scripts can be sent to RECT, P.O. Box 157, Harrodsburg, KY 40330. The email address is raggededgetheatre@gmail.com.

Bill McCann is a playwright, poet, flash fiction writer and teacher who writes about arts events and personalities. He can be reached at wmccann273@gmail.com.

About Randy Patrick

Randy Patrick is a reporter for Bluegrass Newsmedia, which includes The Jessamine Journal. He may be reached at 859-759-0015 or by email at randy.patrick@bluegrassnewsmedia.com.

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