Archive for the 'Speakers Bureau' Category


Meet the poet laureate: An interview with Gurney Norman

Gurney Norman was a “mountain kid.”

Born in Grundy, Va., in 1937 and raised in western Virginia and eastern Kentucky, Kentucky’s poet laureate has a unique understanding of the Appalachian region, an understanding that has helped him give back to that area again and again through his labor of love — writing.

Kentucky Poet Laureate Gurney Norman

Kentucky Poet Laureate Gurney Norman

He has produced a number of works focusing on the Appalachian region. His novel Divine Right’s Trip follows a young man who travels from California back to his native Kentucky. Kinfolks is a collection of short stories about a Kentucky mountain family. He has co-edited two anthologies, Confronting Appalachian Stereotypes: Back Talk from an American Region and An American Vein: Critical Readings in Appalachian Literature. He has written and narrated three documentary films about eastern Kentucky’s rivers and trails for KET: “Time on the River,” “From This Valley” and “Wilderness Road.” He is co-author of three screenplays based on stories from the Kinfolks collection: “Fat Monroe,” “Nightride,” and “Maxine.” His forthcoming novella, Ancient Creek, is a contemporary Appalachian folktale.

A graduate of Stuart Robinson School in Letcher County, Norman majored in journalism and English at the University of Kentucky and studied writing at Stanford University as a Stegner Creative Writing Fellow. Thirty years later, he is leading UK’s Creative Writing Program. He serves as advisor to schools and community-based arts groups in Kentucky and the Appalachian region.

Learn more about the 2009-10 poet laureate, who is also a member of the Kentucky Humanities Council’s Speakers Bureau, in his interview with KH.
Continue reading ‘Meet the poet laureate: An interview with Gurney Norman’


Yes, they too were Kentuckians: Floyd Collins, cave explorer

By James C. Claypool

The death of Floyd Collins (1887-1925) is said to have constituted one of America’s most sensational media events of the 1920s.

Floyd Collins lived in western Kentucky’s cave region his entire life. He began exploring the extensive cave system in this region as a young man, and in 1925, the year of his tragic death, Collins was considered the foremost authority on the caves and cave systems of western Kentucky. In fact, some have gone so far as to label Collins “the greatest cave explorer ever known.” In 1917, Collins discovered Crystal Cave, which was located at the edge of the vast Mammoth Cave system, a discovery the Collins family tried to turn into a commercial enterprise. However, attendance at Crystal Cave was disappointingly low. In the hope that he might be able to uncover a new entrance to the area’s cave systems and thereby generate a new spark of interest in Crystal Cave, Floyd entered a nearby sandstone cave on Jan. 30, 1925. While crawling through a narrow crawlway that ran 55 feet below the surface, Collins became trapped and would remain so for 13 highly melodramatic days until he died from starvation and exposure.
Continue reading ‘Yes, they too were Kentuckians: Floyd Collins, cave explorer’


KHC seeks new magazine editor, public relations director

The Kentucky Humanities Council Inc. in Lexington, a private nonprofit organization affiliated with the National Endowment for the Humanities, is seeking someone for the position of assistant director for marketing and public relations and editor of Kentucky Humanities magazine.

Applicants should have editing and writing experience, academic training, and/or general interest in Kentucky history and culture, and public relations/ marketing skills.

Continue reading ‘KHC seeks new magazine editor, public relations director’


Speakers in central, western Kentucky this weekend

The Kentucky Humanities Council Speakers Bureau will feature talks in central and western Kentucky this weekend by two very interesting presenters — state historian James Klotter and Kentucky NPR commentator Georgia Green Stamper.

In Winchester, Klotter will offer his presentation “A Power Trio: Henry Clay, Mary Todd and Honest Abe,” in which he explores the unique relationship between these three influential Kentuckians. Klotter’s talk begins at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 3, at the Clark County Public Library, 370 S. Burns Ave, Winchester.

In Greenville, Stamper will tell you about “Extraordinary Ordinary Kentuckians.” A seventh-generation Kentuckian, Stamper is in love with Kentuckians and their unique stories. From farmers in bathrobes who taught her the true meaning of the Christmas story, to a shell-shocked housepainter who took her to Hell on a train, Stamper’s real-life characters will stir the hearts of those in the audience. Her talk begins at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 3, at the Muhlenberg County Library History Annex, 117 S. Main St., Greenville.


New catalog on its way

If you’re on our mailing list, you’re just a few days away from receiving the 2009-2010 Whole Humanities Catalog in your mailbox. And what a loaded catalog it is!

CoverThe publication features all of the players in the upcoming season of Kentucky Chautauqua and the Kentucky Humanities Council Speakers Bureau. We are introducing five new Chautauqua characters — Lucy Bakewell Audubon, wife of ornithologist John James Audubon; Rosemary Clooney, the famed actress and singer from northern Kentucky; Johnny Green, Confederate soldier in the Orphan Brigade; U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan; and Billy Herndon, Abraham Lincoln’s friend and law partner for 18 years. Our Speakers Bureau includes 13 new speakers and a variety of interesting talks. Kentucky Poet Laureate Gurney Norman joins our ranks, in addition to a number of Kentucky writers and scholars.

If you’re not on our mailing list but would like a copy of the magazine, call us at (859) 257-5932, or e-mail or We’ll get you set up and a catalog on its way!

If you’re an educator, check out information in the catalog about our Chautauqua in the Schools program. Our Chautauqua programs are an excellent addition to your curriculum and are available to Kentucky classrooms at a reduced cost, thanks to National Endowment for the Humanities We The People funding. Click here or call (859) 257-5932 for more information.

Take a sneak peek at the catalog on our Web site. And watch your mailbox — bookings for Kentucky Chautauqua and the Speakers Bureau begin July 1!


Dress rehearsal’s over; it’s time for the show

The five new characters in this year’s Kentucky Chautauqua cast made it through their final review this week — and they’re almost ready to take their shows on the road.

On Monday, the characters — Lucy Audubon (Kelly Brengelman), Rosemary Clooney (Bet Stewart), Johnny Green (Ethan Smith), Justice John Marshall Harlan (Ed Smith) and Billy Herndon (Robert Brock) — gave their full 45-minute performances to a crowd of professional and volunteer reviewers. They will use reviewers’ suggestions to fine tune their performances before bookings begin July 1.

Click here to read Herald-Leader arts and entertainment writer Rich Copley’s blog entry about the review and to see a photo slideshow.

The Kentucky Humanities Council’s Whole Humanities Catalog, which advertises all of our Chautauqua performers and Speakers Bureau members, will be available July 1, and bookings for the upcoming season can be made at that time. The catalog is your tool for choosing and booking a Chautauqua performance or Speakers Bureau talk. You can also visit our Web site for instructions.


KHC programs near you

We have several programs scheduled across the state this week, and even out of state. Check out the calendar to see if there’s one near you and plan to attend! You can also visit the KHC calendar online here. Also, don’t forget — the Between Fences Smithsonian exhibit is on display at the Oldham County History Center in La Grange until June 6.

May 5: Daniel Boone: Pathfinder Chautauqua, 11 a.m., Brown Hotel, Louisville.
May 7: Prime Time Family Reading Time, 6 p.m., Boone County Public Library, Union.
May 7: Prime Time Family Reading Time, 5:30 p.m., Boyd County Public Library, Ashland.
May 7: Emilie Todd Helm: Rebel in the White House Chautauqua, 6:30 p.m., Martin County Historical Society, Inez.
May 7: Speaker Diane P. Coon, topic not listed in Whole Humanities Catalog, 7 p.m., Muhlenberg County Public Library, Muhlenberg.
May 9: Emilie Todd Helm: Rebel in the White House Chautauqua, 1 p.m., Bibb House Museum, Russellville.
May 9: Atta kul kulla: Cherokee Peace Chief Chautauqua, 3 p.m., Wilderness Road State Park, Ewing, Va.