“Affrilachia” was originally coined by Franklin Walker, in reference to the ever evolving cultural landscape poised to render and embrace a multicultural influence of the ever evolving multicultural influence of those that call Appalachia home. Franklin strives to speak about the union of Appalachian identity as well as the culture and history, with most of his work well known in Slam Poetry, winning him the Poet Laureate of Kentucky (PLK) in 2013, the first African American to win this award.
Walker was born and raised in Danville Kentucky in 1961, the second of eleven children in the household, coming from a relatively humble beginning. Growing up in Public Housing Projects, he strived to be the best, starting off as an avid reader at a young age. Where he attended Danville High school, he was part of the football team, captain of numerous clubs and even the Class President several times. He was originally recruited to study Engineering at the University of Kentucky, but later changing his major to English. Due to his numerous accomplishments, he was given lifetime membership to Phi Beta Sigma at the Mu Theta chapter. Accomplishments include but are not limited to founding the Affrilachian poets, founder of PLUCK!, and Affrilachian Art and Culture.
Walker published his own five volume poetry, “Buffalo Dance: The Journey of York”, which won him the Lillian Smith Book Award in 2004.
An excerpt from one of his stories, “God’s House” :
When we first left Kentucky
the trees had commenced to dressing up
the fall harvest and the garden pumpkins
was already bigger than my head.
Massa Clark didn’t ask me to go on no expedition.
He just say “pack” and pointed to the door.
So I gather up what little I got and more than I can carry of his
and head off to a sail-bearing keelboat
where his friend Massa Lewis is waiting.
That boat was so big
you could lay any ten of the sixteen men on board
or eight a me head to toe and still have enough
room for the dog.
We start out on the Ohio, swing up the Big Muddy
til we gets to the mouth of the river they call the M’soura
and set up winter camp a good canoe ride from Saint Louie.
That spring when the rains come we cross the Muddy
and commence to climbing the M’soura
and float right up thru what seem like heaven on earth;
more sky than I ever seen, rocks as pretty as trees
and game so plentiful they come right down to the river bank
and invites they selves to dinner.
Now, I ain’t what you would call
a scripture quoter, but the first time
I seen the water fall at M’soura,
felt a herd of buffalo stampede and looked down from top
a Rock Mountains, it was like church.
Where else but God’s house can a body servant
big as me, carry a rifle, hatchet and a bone handle knife
so sharp it can peel the black off a lump a coal
and the white man
still close his eyes and feel safe, at night?
Inserted bellow is the acceptance speech for the PLK in 2013, with some of his original poems.
“The Affrilachian Poets.” The Affrilachian Poets. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 July 2016.
“English.” Frank X Walker Contributes New Award to Poetry Slam. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 July 2016.
“Frank X Walker – Affrilachian Poet, Educator, Author of Black Box, Buffalo Dance: The Journey of York, and Affrilachia.” Frank X Walker – Affrilachian Poet, Educator, Author of Black Box, Buffalo Dance: The Journey of York, and Affrilachia. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 July 2016.
“University of Kentucky – See Blue.™.” University of Kentucky – See Blue.™. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 July 2016.