Pennington will read from his book “Songs of Bloody Harlan” at 2 p.m. Tuesday, April 14, in Archives and Special Collections in Ekstrom Library, outside the Lee and Joy Pennington Gallery.
This is Pennington’s fourth annual reading in honor of National Poetry Month. Archives and Special Collections will mount an exhibit of Lee’s work in conjunction with the reading. The exhibit includes vintage editions of Pennington’s books, original art by illustrator and artist Jill Baker, and photographs and newspaper accounts detailing events from Pennington’s life.
Pennington, who was appointed Poet Laureate of Kentucky in 1984, is a native of Eastern Kentucky. In the 1960s, he taught creative writing at Southeast Community College in Harlan County where he gathered his students’ poems about their lives in Harlan County and published them in the book “Tomorrow’s People.”
The publication of “Tomorrow’s People” generated controversy in the county from those who didn’t agree with some of the poems; Pennington faced threats and was fired from his job. In 1975, Pennington used that experience to honor his former students and what they went through in “Songs of Bloody Harlan.”
The reading is free and open to the public. A reception will follow. The event is hosted by UofL Archives and Special Collections.