Words for the People

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“Words for the People” is hosted by Crystal Wilkinson, Kentucky’s Poet Laureate. Each episode features an established writer and an emerging writer, sharing their wisdom to help you free your own story.

Check out the trailer:

Episode 1: Lost and Found

“How does being a Kentuckian inform your writing?”

That’s the first question Kentucky Poet Laureate Crystal Wilkinson asks former Poet Laureate Frank X Walker, and he counters with, “how does it not?”

His grandparents were farmers, but Walker describes growing up feeling removed from the land itself. “I was raised in a housing project,” he says, “but we coveted other people’s land, and we got a kind of way about us when we had a chance to be outdoors and in the wild, or on a farm, like my grandparents’ space.”

Walker says every word he writes deals with family, place and identity. “I don’t know how to take that out.”

Later in the conversation, he shares some advice with aspiring writers: listen to other people read and talk about their craft. “There’s no substitute for reading,” he says. And here are some of his recommendations:

Poet and activist Zakia Holland wears an orange tee shirt and reads a poem into a microphoneThis episode’s emerging writer is Zakia Holland, who performed her poem “Imagine Peace” on Woodsongs last year.

Holland is 21 and says she’s from “all over Kentucky.” You can find more on her TikTok.


“Words for the People” is made possible by the Kentucky Foundation for Women, the Snowy Owl Foundation and people just like you.