Posts Tagged ‘Gurney Norman


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.
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