Kentucky poet laureate to speak during Library Friends’ free online event

COOKEVILLE – The first African American woman to be appointed Kentucky poet laureate, Crystal Wilkinson, will give a free online talk hosted by the Putnam County Library Friends (PCLF) beginning at 6 p.m., Friday, Sept. 24. 

The event replaces this year’s traditional Annual Dinner with an Author banquet. Wilkinson’s talk is one of several Friends events held annually in support of the main library in Cookeville and branches in Algood, Baxter and Monterey. 

“Libraries are extremely valuable resources,” said PCLF President Marcia Flatt. “We are fortunate to have a strong library system in Putnam County. We are happy to present this event free to the public and hope it encourages people to support libraries, literacy and learning through shared perspective and experiences.”

Crystal Wilkinson is the author of “The Birds of Opulence,” winner of the 2016 Ernest J. Gaines Prize for Literary Excellence, “Water Street,” “Blackberries, Blackberries,” and the forthcoming “Perfect Black.” Nominated for both the Orange Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, she has received recognition from The Kentucky Foundation for Women, The Kentucky Arts Council, The Mary Anderson Center for the Arts, The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and is a recipient of the Chaffin Award for Appalachian Literature. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and her short stories, poems and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Oxford American and Southern Cultures. She teaches at the University of Kentucky, where she is associate professor of English in the MFA in Creative Writing Program. 

Viewers can access the live stream by searching for @pclibraryfriends by browser or Facebook. While the stream is hosted by Facebook, you don’t have to be a user to participate. 

Copies of Wilkinson’s current novel, “The Birds of Opulence,” are available for checkout at each of the four Putnam County Library branches. 

The Putnam County Library Friends group, established in 2001, supports the patrons and staff of the branches in Cookeville, Algood, Baxter and Monterey through financial gifts earned from author events, monthly used book sales, grants, membership dues and donations, as well as advocating for the library system through public events, membership drives and sponsoring the annual Summer Reading Program. For more information about becoming a member of the Friends, email

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