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kathryn tucker windham
spoken word stage

Ashley M. Jones 2023.jpg

ashley m. jones

Alabama Poet Laureate, 2022-26

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brooke champagne

2023-2024 Alabama State Council on the Arts Fellowship recipient

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trudier harris

Alabama Writers Hall of Fame 

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sandra barnidge

Author of The Diamondbacks (2025)

kathryn tucker windham
spoken word stage schedule

Sponsored by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians

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SATURDAY, OCT 14:

​                9:30am – University of Alabama Undergraduate Creative Writing Students 
                11:30am  – Pure Products
                12:30pm  –  Charlie "Tin Man" Lucas, stories about Kathryn Tucker Windham
                1:30pm  –  Sandy Barnidge
                3:00pm  –  Brooke Champagne

 

SUNDAY, OCT 15:

               10:30am  –  University of Alabama Undergraduate Creative Writing Students 
               12:00pm  –  Kathryn Tucker Windham Tales
               1:30pm  –  Ashley M. Jones, Alabama Poet Laureate
               2:30pm  –  Trudier Harris, recent Alabama Writers Hall of Fame Inductee

listed in order of appearance

about the artists

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Charlie "Tin Man" Lucas is an Alabama folk artist whose work has been exhibited in galleries and museums around the world. Lucas makes figural sculptures and mixed media wall hangings from materials that others have discarded. Charlie became friends with storyteller Kathryn Tucker Windham at a dinner party in France, where he heard Kathryn say she longed for a tomato sandwich. Eventually, they lived next door to each other in Selma. 

 

Lucas said he appreciates opportunities to share stories about his friend who went about her life in simple ways. “Miss Kathryn brought balance to my life and I needed balance,” Lucas said. “She came in my life to be the scale for me.”

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Sandra Barnidge’s work centers on small towns, working-class women, and environmental themes. Her debut novel, "The Diamondbacks," is forthcoming from Belle Point Press (2025), and her short fiction has appeared in Barren, The Fiddlehead, Nimrod, Reservoir Road Literary Review, Allegory Ridge, and elsewhere. She writes a column about nature and creativity for Reckon Review.

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Brooke Champagne is the author of "Nola Face," forthcoming with the Crux Series in Literary Nonfiction at the University of Georgia Press in 2024. Her writing appears widely in literary journals and has received various awards, including the inaugural William Bradley Prize for the Essay for her work “Exercises.” She recently won the 2022 March Faxness National Championship Essay Tournament with her essay on Aimee Mann’s cover of the song “One.” Her essays have been selected as Notables in several editions of Best American Essays, and is recipient of the 2023-2024 Alabama State Council on the Arts Literary Fellowship in Prose. She lives in Tuscaloosa, where she teaches in the MFA Program at the University of Alabama.

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Ashley M. Jones is the Poet Laureate of the State of Alabama, 2022-2026. She holds an MFA in Poetry from Florida International University, and she is the author of "Magic City Gospel" (Hub City Press 2017),  "dark / / thing" (Pleiades Press 2019), and "REPARATIONS NOW!: (Hub City Press 2021). Her poetry has earned several awards, including the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers Award, the Silver Medal in the Independent Publishers Book Awards, the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize for Poetry, a Literature Fellowship from the Alabama State Council on the Arts, the Lucille Clifton Poetry Prize, and the Lucille Clifton Legacy Award. 

 

She was a finalist for the Ruth Lily Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship in 2020, and her collection, "REPARATIONS NOW!" was on the longlist for the 2022 PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry. Jones has been featured on news outlets including Good Morning America, ABC News, and the BBC. Her poems and essays appear in or are forthcoming at CNN, POETRY, The Oxford American, Origins Journal, The Quarry by Split This Rock, Obsidian, and many others. She co-directs PEN Birmingham, and she is the founding director of the Magic City Poetry Festival. She is the associate director of the University Honors Program at UAB, and is part of the core faculty of the Converse University Low Residency MFA Program. She recently served as a guest editor for Poetry Magazine. In 2022, she received a Poet Laureate Fellowship from the Academy of American Poets.

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Trudier Harris is University Distinguished Research Professor of English Emerita at the University of Alabama and J. Carlyle Sitterson Distinguished Professor of English Emerita at UNC Chapel Hill, where she taught courses in African American literature and folklore. Among her 25 published books are "From Mammies to Militants: Domestics in Black American Literature" (1982), "Exorcising Blackness: Historical and Literary Lynching and Burning Rituals" (1984), "Fiction and Folklore: The Novels of Toni Morrison" (1991), "The Power of the Porch: The Storyteller’s Craft in Zora Neale Hurston, Gloria Naylor, and Randall Kenan" (1996), "The Scary Mason-Dixon Line: African American Writers and the South" (2009), "Martin Luther King Jr., Heroism, and African American Literature" (2014), and "Depictions of Home in African American Literature" (2021).

 

She published her memoir, "Summer Snow: Reflections from a Black Daughter of the South," in 2003. In 2002, she received the Eugene Current-Garcia Award for selection as Alabama’s Distinguished Literary Scholar. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill created the “Trudier Harris Distinguished Professorship” in her honor in 2014. In 2018, she received an honorary degree from The College of William and Mary, the Richard Beale Davis Award for Lifetime Achievement in Southern Literary Studies, and a Resident Fellowship to the National Humanities Center. 

 

She received the 2018 Clarence E. Cason Award for Nonfiction Writing from the College of Communication & Information Sciences at the University of Alabama. She also won the 2018 SEC Faculty Achievement Award at the University of Alabama (a “Professor of Year” designation). On March 10, 2023, Harris was inducted into the Alabama Writers Hall of Fame, where she joins the likes of Truman Capote, Zora Neale Hurston, Harper Lee, Sonia Sanchez, and Margaret Walker. Her latest book, "Bigger Thomas: A Literary Life," is forthcoming in 2024.

who was
kathryn tucker windham?

In celebration of Kentuck's 50th anniversary (2021), Kentuck Art Center renamed the Spoken Word Stage to honor the late journalist/storyteller/Alabama legend Kathryn Tucker Windham. 

The Spoken Word Stage at the Kentuck Festival of the Arts would not exist if not for Kathryn. 

In the early years of the Kentuck Festival, there was no storytelling stage - just a circled spot on a map, where someone would tack up a sign with her name, and times. She'd walk the festival grounds, then wander back whenever a crowd of children gathered. 

 

Kentuck Art Center and Festival is honored to dedicate the stage to Kathryn. In addition to the performances listed below, attendees can look forward to listening to old recordings of Kathryn telling her ghostly tales.  

 

Kathryn used to say "Storytelling is a way of saying 'I love you.' I love you enough to tell you something that means a great deal to me."

 

The power of spoken word transcends time and generations. It is Kentuck's hope that honoring Kathryn Tucker Windham with this stage dedication will stir feelings of nostalgia for those who grew up reading her stories, and introduce a new generation to the magic of storytelling. Or, in Kathryn's words, the magic of saying, "I love you."

 

Learn more about Kathryn's life and legacy here. 

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