Now in its eighth printing, Frank X Walker's pathbreaking book of poems Affrilachia is a classic of Appalachian and African-American literature. Walker created the word "Affrilachia" to help make visible the experience of African-Americans living in the rural and Appalachian South. The book is widely used in classrooms and is one of the foundational works of the Affrilachian Poets, a community of writers offering fresh ways to think about diversity in the Appalachian region and beyond.
Affrilachia (Old Cove Press, 2000)
ISBN-13: 978-0967542409 • $14.50
This collection of persona poems tells the story of the infamous Lewis & Clark expedition from the point of view of Clark's personal slave, York. The poems form a narrative of York's inner and outer journey, before, during and after the expedition — a journey from slavery to freedom, from the plantation to the great northwest, from servant to soul yearning to be free.
Over the course of the saga and through the poems, we are treated to subtle and overt commentaries on literacy, slavery, native Americans, buffalo, the environment, and more. Though Buffalo Dance purposely references historic accounts and facts, it is fictionalized poetry, and Frank X Walker's rare blend of history and art breathes life into an important but overlooked historical figure.
Buffalo Dance is available on Amazon today.
Buffalo Dance: The Ascension of York
(University of Kentucky, 2003)
ISBN-13: 978-0813190884 • $15.00
"And now York, finally, has a voice. The man who made the voyage, the man with all the hopes and dreams of freedom has a voice, raises a song to his freedom, understands that his life was not his best self, only the best he could do. Let us all raise a praise song to Frank X Walker, for giivng voice to York. What a magnificent achievement."
"Buffalo Dance has great power and beauty. This is poetry and storytelling of high order." —Gurney Norman
This powerful collection of poems from award-winning poet Frank X Walker continues the autobiograhical, political and literary journey of Affrilachia, his groundbreaking book of poems about growing up black in the Appalachian south (Old Cove Press, 2000). In Black Box he offers the reader 68 new poems -- written with passion, clarity and emotional honesty -- that illuminate experiences of race, love, social justice, family, identity and place.
Black Box Poems (Old Cove Press, 2005)
The degree to which university professors have staked their academic lives and intellectual selves on every accented syllable of dead white men, having diagramed their “brilliant” intentions and held it up as evidence that poetry is the caviar on the literary menu, has helped carve out an elitist mystique and ruined many a promising young poet. In the pages that follow, we offer a counter argument: that poetry is bread. That it is whole grain sustenance and comes in all colors, ethnicities, sizes, genders, and sexual preferences. It is not just the leather-bound private joy of scholars, but new and naked and pouring out of the stomachs and hearts of emerging and established writers all over this country.
America needs poetry more than it needs prisons; ill-conceived government policies, inadequate schools, political spin, or exit polls. Poetry, when used correctly, is the most democratic thing we own. It belongs to the people. It is for the people and it rings truest when written by the people.
You probably won’t find these poets in your syllabus, though there are more prize-winning writers in these pages than you will find in many university English departments. But wherever you can find a table or a hungry mouth; wherever people need nothing else with their soup but homemade biscuits, cornbread, tortillas, challah, or frybread, fresh out of the oven, I hope you will find this book being read aloud or passed hand to hand with love, with appreciation for genuine solutions for real hunger.
America! What's My Name? is available on Amazon today.
America! What's My Name? (Wind Publications, 2007)
A sequel to the award-winning Buffalo Dance, Frank X Walker's When Winter Come: The Ascension of York is a dramatic reimagining of Lewis and Clark's legendary exploration of the American West. Grounded in the history of the famous trip, Walker's vibrant account allows York — little more than a forgotten footnote in traditional narratives — to embody the full range of human ability, knowledge, emotion, and experience. Knowledge of the seasons unfolds to York "like a book," and he "can read moss, sunsets, the moon, and a mare's foaling time with a touch."
During the journey, York forges a spiritual connection and shares sensual delights with a Nez Perce woman, and Walker's poems capture the profound feelings of love and loss on each side of this ill-fated meeting of souls. As the perspectives of Lewis, Clark, Sacagawea, and others in the party emerge, Walker also gives voice to York's knife, his hunting shirt, and the river waters that have borne thousands of travelers before and after the Lewis and Clark expedition.
The alternately heartbreaking and uplifting poems in When Winter Come are told from multiple perspectives and rendered in vivid detail. When Winter Come exalts the historical persona of a slave and lifts the soul of a man; York ascends out of his chains, out of oblivion, and into flight.
When Winter Comes is available on Amazon today.
When Winter Comes: The Ascension of York
(University of Kentucky, 2008)
ISBN 978-0-8131-9184-3 • $15.00
"Frank X Walker has re-imagined the story of the Lewis and Clark expedition in a way no one else has before. This powerful and insightful book is more than an admirable sequel to Buffalo Dance. It is a careful re-examination of historical records, re-imagined and conjured into a concert of voices whose aim is truth. One can read When Winter Come through from beginning to end like a good novel, and then go back and savor it one poem at time. Walker has given all of us who care about American Literature a lasting gift." —Greg Pape, Montana Poet Laureate (2007-2009) and author of Sunflower Facing the Sun and Border Crossings
"When Winter Come is an astonishing collection of poems that ushers Frank X Walker into the company of other memorable poets like Roethke, Hugo, Clifton, and Dove but he also recollects the powerful narrative voice of Michael Ondaatje's Coming Through Slaughter or Alice Walker's The Color Purple. Frank X Walker magically captures York, not the flat historical figure represented in Lewis & Clark's journals — Walker has tapped into the true voice of York and conjured him on the page. This is not just a book of poems — this is a book of spirits and shimmering apparitions." —Debra Magpie Earling, author of Perma Red
In this new collection of poems, Frank X Walker immerses himself in the story of legendary African American jockey Isaac Burns Murphy (1861-1896). The son of a slave, Murphy rose to the top of thoroughbred racing to become the most successful Jockey in America. Through poetic imagination, Walker gives us the voices of Isaac Murphy and his wife Lucy, his trainer Eli Jordan, and his parents James and America Burns. Through their words we follow Murphy's dramatic Journey to become America's most celebrated black jockey.
Issac Murphy: I Dedicate This Ride is available on Amazon today.
Issac Murphy: I Dedicate This Ride
(Old Cove Press, 2010)
Around the void left by the murder of Medgar Evers in 1963, the poems in this collection speak, unleashing the strong emotions both before and after the moment of assassination. Poems take on the voices of Evers's widow, Myrlie; his brother, Charles; his assassin, Byron De La Beckwith; and each of De La Beckwith's two wives. Except for the book's title,"Turn me loose," which were his final words, Evers remains in this collection silent. Yet the poems accumulate facets of the love and hate with which others saw this man, unghosting him in a way that only imagination makes possible.
Turn Me Loose is available on Amazon today.
Turn Me Loose: The Unghosting of Medgar Evers
(University of Georgia Press, 2013)
"Up until this point in American history, no poet has written an honest and believable lament about the crippling effects from the tornado swirl of a crack pipe, how a little rock being melted between thin mesh screen creates pallid smoke: a monster, a slave to the white lady that is cocaine. In About Flight, Frank X Walker gives us the beautiful ugly narrative of a brother who is wrestling with chemical dependency, and losing. The high, in all of its beautiful contradictions takes on the metaphor of flight, and so we soar through the terrible highs and lows of a protagonist who carries his family with him into the den of iniquity." —Randall Horton, author of Pitch Dark Anarchy & Hook: A Memoir
About Flight is available on Amazon today.
(Accents Publishing, LLC, 2015)
"In every stanza of this evocative and revelatory gospel, the inimitable X teaches us "Something important about holding on, something more about letting go." He leans hard into the fierce, achingly familiar and sometimes fractured realities of the black-lived life, and under his deft touch they unreel as stark cinema—character-driven, rich with sensory, imbibed with their own selfish music and utterly, utterly memorable." —Patricia Smith, author of Incendiary Art, Northwestern University Press
Ink Stains & Watermarks is available on Duncan Hill Press today.
Ink Stains & Watermarks: New and Uncollected Poems
(Duncan Hall Press, 2017)