LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 19, 2021) — University of Kentucky College of Arts and Sciences associate professor and Kentucky Poet Laureate Crystal Wilkinson’s latest title and first poetry collection, “Perfect Black,” is now available from the University Press of Kentucky.
On Aug. 12, 2021, The New York Times listed “Perfect Black” as one of the four poetry books to read that week.
Wilkinson combines a deep love for her rural roots with a passion for language and storytelling in this compelling collection of poetry and prose about girlhood, racism and political awakening, imbued with vivid imagery of growing up in southern Appalachia.
In “Perfect Black,” the acclaimed writer muses on such topics as motherhood, the politics of her Black body, lost fathers, mental illness, sexual abuse and religion. It is a captivating conversation about life, love, loss and pain, interwoven with striking illustrations by her longtime partner, Ronald W. Davis.
The new title also includes a foreword by Nikki Finney, the 2011 National Book Award winner who previously served as the Guy Davenport Endowed Professor of English at the University of Kentucky for 20 years.
Crystal Wilkinson is the first Black woman to hold the appointment of Poet Laureate of Kentucky. She is the author of “The Birds of Opulence,” winner of the Ernest J. Gaines Award; “Blackberries, Blackberries,” winner of the Chaffin Award for Appalachian Literature; and “Water Street,” a finalist for both the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. She also is the winner of a 2020 USA Artist Fellowship.
The University Press of Kentucky is the scholarly publisher for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, representing a consortium that includes all of the state universities, six private colleges and two historical societies. The press’s editorial program focuses on the humanities and the social sciences. Offices for the administrative, editorial, production and marketing departments of the press are found at the University of Kentucky, which provides financial support toward operating and publishing expenses.
The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers." We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.