Arts & Culture

University Press of Kentucky author Willie Carver seeks to inspire with poetry book

Willie Edward Taylor Carver Jr.
Cover of "Gay Poems for Red States"

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 26, 2023) — Willie Carver, advocate, educator and author at the University of Kentucky is receiving national recognition for his book, "Gay Poems for Red States." Last week, he was featured on "Good Morning America" for inspiring LGBTQ+ youth in rural areas.

Carver’s poetry collection, released on June 6 by University Press of Kentucky, reveals his personal experiences as a gay man growing up in Appalachia and the pursuit of a life filled with beauty, pride and acceptance. "Sharing my story is also sharing my students’ and Appalachia’s story,” he said. “It's a sacred privilege to do so.”

Carver has spent his entire career dedicated to helping students find their passion and purpose. He was the 2022 "Kentucky Teacher of the Year" and served as ambassador to the Kentucky Department of Education — where he created a platform of inclusion and advocacy for LGBTQ+, BIPOC and Appalachian students.

In 2022, Carver testified before the House Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties on the need for protections for LGBTQ+ students, teachers and staff in schools. As an academic advisor in the Gatton College of Business and Economics, he continues to assist and inspire students to find their best path forward.

Additionally, Carver is a candidate for the MFA in poetry. He publishes and presents on the subjects of education, marginalization and identity, and his personal journey has been featured on ABC, CBS, PBS, NPR and in The Washington Post and Le Monde. Carver's creative work has been published in 100 Days in Appalachia, 2RulesofWriting, Another Chicago Magazine, Largehearted Boy Blog, Smoky Blue Literary Magazine and Good River Review.

The "Good Morning America" interview is the second recent instance of national exposure to spotlight the University Press of Kentucky. Authors Crystal Wilkinson, Frank X Walker and Ronald W. Davis were featured on Hulu’s "Searching for Soul Food" (season 1, episode 3).

The University Press is dedicated to the publication of academic books of high scholarly merit as well as significant books about the history and culture of Kentucky, the Ohio Valley region, the Upper South, and Appalachia. Its publications have earned a national reputation, with reviews in such media as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and NPR.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.