Category Archives: Kentucky Live

Kentucky Live! presents Fenton Johnson and “The Man Who Loved Birds: A Novel”

Fenton Johnson

Fenton Johnson, Assoc. Prof. of Creative Writing, Univ. of AZ in Tucson & Spalding Univ., Louisville, KY

One of Kentucky’s most celebrated writers, Fenton Johnson, will be the featured speaker in our next Kentucky Live Series on Thursday, April 20 at 7 p.m. at Barnes & Noble Bookstore.  He’ll be talking about his newest novel The Man Who Loved Birds which is set in Nelson county Kentucky.  Johnson was born the youngest of nine children into a Kentucky whiskey-making family of storytellers. He moved to San Francisco at the of seventeen just in time to experience the Cultural Revolution and anti-war protests which were occurring in California in the early 1970s.  He received a scholarship to attend Stanford University and later an MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers Workshop.  He’s taught in the creative writing programs at San Francisco State University, Columbia University, New York University, Sarah Lawrence College, and UC Davis and is currently a Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Arizona.

Crossing the River by Fenton Johnson

Crossing the River by Fenton Johnson

His first novel Crossing the River, published in 1989 to quote one reviewer “describes a head strong Southern woman with a rebellious spirit.” Another commented it’s “one woman’s reawakening and her son’s coming of age in the heartland of America.”

Scissors, Paper, Rock by Fenton Johnson

Scissors, Paper, Rock by Fenton Johnson

In his second novel Scissors, Paper, Rock: A Novel published in 1993, a son with an AIDS diagnosis returns to his rural Kentucky home to care for his dying father. The reviewer for the New York Times wrote “memory, love grief, death and desire are the stuff of Johnson’s powerfully moving novel.” Widely praised it won a number of literary awards.

Geography of the Heart by Fenton Johnson

Geography of the Heart by Fenton Johnson

His autobiographical memoir Geography of the Heart about the death of his lover from AIDS published in 1996 won the Lambda Literary Award for Biography/Autobiography while his Keeping Faith: A Skeptic’s Journey Among Christian and Buddhist Monks, a meditation on what it means for a skeptic to have and keep faith won both a Lambda Literary Award and a Kentucky Literary Award for creative non-fiction.

Keeping Faith: A Skeptic's Journey Among Christian and Buddhist Monks by Fenton Johnson

Keeping Faith: A Skeptic’s Journey Among Christian and Buddhist Monks by Fenton Johnson

Shorter works have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Mother Jones, the Sewanee Review, Virginia Quarterly Review and Harper’s.

Hassie Breeding Helton being interviewed

Hassie Breeding Helton being interviewed in Stranger With a Camera, screenplay by Fenton Johnson

He’s also written narrations for award-winning documentaries shown on PBS’s Frontline and at the Sundance Film Festival, most notably Stranger with A Camera produced though Appalshop, the Southern Appalachian Cultural Center, which won a Columbia/Dupont Journalism Award.

The Man Who Loved Birds by Fenton Johnson

The Man Who Loved Birds by Fenton Johnson

Most recently his third novel The Man Who Loved Birds was published in 2016 by the University Press of Kentucky which also released new editions of his earlier novels and a collection of essays Notes of an Emigrant Son: New and Selected Essays is due out next month from Sarabande Books.  Going It Alone: On the Dignity and Challenge of Solitude based on a cover story he wrote for Harper’s Magazine will be published in 2018.

Fenton Johnson

Fenton Johnson

Fenton’s writing has been supported by Wallace Stegner, James Michener and Guggenheim Foundation Fellowships and the National Endowment for the Arts and he was recently interviewed on Terry Gross’s Fresh Air. He conducts creative writing workshops across the country and lectures on the issues of faith and spirituality as well as on the role of the arts and humanities in medicine and caregiving.

SOKY Bookfest 2017 Poster

SOKY Bookfest 2017 Poster

He’ll also be in residence at this year’s Southern Kentucky Bookfest on Saturday, April 22 at the Knicely Convention Center in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Event Flyer

Event Flyer

Join us to hear Fenton Johnson talk about his new novel, The Man Who Loved Birds. The event is free and open to the public, as well as ‘swipeable’ for WKU students. Door prizes and a book signing will follow!

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Kentucky Live! presents David J. Bettez with “Kentucky and the Great War: World War I on the Home Front”

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David Bettez, the retired Director of the Office of International Programs at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, spoke in this year’s Kentucky Live! series on March 9, 2017 at Barnes & Noble Bookstore (1680 Campbell Lane). He talked about his newest book Kentucky and the Great War: World War I on the Home Front . The publication of his book and his talk coincide with the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into World War I.

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Kentucky Live! presents “Wine-ing Your Way Across Kentucky” with Becky Kelley & Kathy Woodhouse

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WKU Libraries’ “Kentucky Live!” speaker series opened up its spring season with “Wineing Your Way Across Kentucky: Recipes, History, and Scenery” on the evening of February 16, 2017 in Barnes & Noble Booksellers at Bowling Green, KY. While Kentucky is known for its bourbon industry, wine has been a growing industry in recent years with new wineries applying for licenses every year. Childhood friends Becky Kelley and Kathy Woodhouse traveled across Kentucky visiting over seventy wineries. The book includes Kelley’s description of each winery, with its location, hours, and events information, along with Woodhouse’s amazing photography and favorite recipes using the wines.

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Bruce Richardson and “The Tea Things of Jane Austen”

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Our opening speaker in our fourteenth season of talks on Kentucky Live! Southern Culture at Its Best was one of the world’s leading tea experts Bruce Richardson, who is a writer, photographer, tea blender and frequent speaker at tea events around the country. The theme of Bruce’s talk in our series was “The Tea Things of Jane Austen,” which took place  at Barnes & Noble on the evening of September 8. Book signing ensued after his talk.

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Flavors from Home: Refugees in Kentucky Share Their Stories and Comfort Foods

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The last speaker for the 2015-2016 season of WKU Libraries’ “Kentucky Live!” speaker series was Aimee Zaring, an author from Louisville, KY. She talked about her book Flavors from Home: Refugees in Kentucky Share Their Stories and Comfort Foods on Thursday, April 14 at Barnes & Noble, Bowling Green, KY. She brought with her some Bosnian dessert pastries provided by Mirzet Mustafić.

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Venerable Trees: History, Biology, and Conservation with Tom Kimmerer

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On the evening of February 11, 2016 at Barnes & Noble in Bowling Green, KY, WKU Libraries kicks off its spring season of Kentucky Live! with Tom Kimmerer, Chief Scientist at Venerable Trees Inc., in Lexington, KY. Tom Kimmerer talked about his new book Venerable Trees: History, Biology, and Conservation in the Bluegrass. A graduate of the State University of New York (SUNY) College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, with a PhD. in Forestry and Botany from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Kimmerer has studied trees and woodland for over forty years, the last thirty-two of which have been in the Kentucky Bluegrass.

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You Belong to Us: One Baby, Two Sets of Parents

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Bowling Green author Molly McCaffrey was the speaker in the Kentucky Live! series on November 19, 2015 at Barnes & Noble Bookstore. She talked about and read from her newest book You Belong to Us: One Baby, Two Sets of Parents, a memoir which tells the story of her experience meeting her biological family just after her thirtieth birthday.

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The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia

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John Hardin, Professor of History at WKU, talked about his recently published work The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia in the WKU Libraries-organized Kentucky Live! event on the evening of October 8 at the Barnes & Noble Bookstore in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

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Jane Olmsted, “Seeking the Other Side”

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Jane Olmsted kicked off this season of WKU Libraries’ Kentucky Live! with a presentation of her book of poems Seeking the Other Side. The event took place in the Western Room of the Kentucky Building on WKU Campus on the evening of September 17, 2015. It concluded with Jane Olmsted signing her books.

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KY’s Nate Northington, First African American Football Player in SEC

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WKU Libraries’ Kentucky Live! series hosted Nathaniel Northington, the first African American football player in the Southeastern Conference (SEC), on the evening of Thursday, March 19 at Barnes & Noble bookstore.

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