Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Crystal Wilkinson, July 19, 2001

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:01 - Poetry in the Park / Governor's School for the Arts

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Partial Transcript: Today is July 19th, the year 2001.

Segment Synopsis: Wilkinson talks of the recent Poetry in the Park event in Lexington, Kentucky. Additionally, Wilkinson recalls her experience as a faculty member at the Kentucky Governor's School for the Arts (within the Creative Writing Department).

Keywords: Attendance; Classes; Faculty; James Baker Hall; July 4th; Kentucky Governor's School for the Arts; Lexington (Ky.); Poet Laureates; Poetry in the Park; Writers

Subjects: African American authors; Artists; Arts; Auditions; Creative writing; Education; Interviews; Logistics; Poets; Programs; Students

00:06:05 - Writing / publisher / anthology

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Partial Transcript: First off, I wonder, do you work on one project at a time or do you work on multiple projects?

Segment Synopsis: Wilkinson reveals her writing routine, in terms of how many writing projects she attempts at once. Subsequently, Wilkinson discusses her publisher, as well as an anthology on Appalachian writers that features some of her work.

Keywords: Anthologies; Appalachia; Books; Jesse Stuart; Novels; Price; Projects; Published; Publishers; Routines; Sensibility; Small presses; Titles; Toby Press; Writers

Subjects: African American authors; People; Poetry; Stories; Writing

00:10:17 - Readings

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Partial Transcript: How--talk about reading and how much of your time and energy that takes and why you do it.

Segment Synopsis: Wilkinson describes what it is like for her to read her work to an audience. This is compared with what Wilkinson experiences when she reads her writing in a group setting, with other authors reading their own work as well.

Keywords: Affrilachian poets; Blackberries (book); Chicago (Ill.); Collaboration; Commitment; Company; Friends; Gayl Jones; Lexington (Ky.); Louisville (Ky.); Poet Laureates; Poetry in the Park; Public appearances; Reading music; Shy; Stage; Writers

Subjects: African American authors; Books; Chairs; Musician; People; Performance; Poetry; Reading; Theater; Travel; Work

00:16:32 - Writing habits

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Partial Transcript: Let's talk a little bit about your writing habits.

Segment Synopsis: Wilkinson's writing habits are detailed, including when and where she writes.

Keywords: Carnegie Center; Chronological; Computers; Crafting time; Free writing; Hopscotch House; Ideas; Jobs; Journaling; Lexington (Ky.); Louisville (Ky.):Indiana; Mary Anderson Center for the Arts; Physical stress; Routines; Rustic; Stress; Writers; Writing retreats

Subjects: Administration; African American authors; Children; Home; Memory; Planning; Pressure; Research; Rural; Time; Vacations; Work

00:28:04 - Writing medium / timing

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Partial Transcript: When you, um--when you're writing there or elsewhere, do you write in longhand or do you take a computer with you, or how do you do that?

Segment Synopsis: Wilkinson briefly explains which writing medium she prefers, which depends on the stage of the writing process she is in. Then, the interviewee discusses how the time it takes for her to finish her work varies considerably.

Keywords: Computers; Crafting work; Francis Ford Coppola; Journals; Longhand; Mary Anderson Center for the Arts; Pieces; Published; Story; Submitted; Thoughts; Typing; Writer's block; Writers; Zoetrope Magazine

Subjects: African American authors; Editing; Paper; Reading; Time

00:34:51 - Affrilachian writers

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Partial Transcript: Um, Crystal, is, is there in place in all of that, that you let someone else read it?

Segment Synopsis: Wilkinson discusses her friendship with an Appalachian writer's group that is both beneficial on a personal and professional level.

Keywords: Affrilachian poets; Appalachia; Changes; Chicago (Ill.); Family; Feedback; Hospitals; Illnesses; Novels; Phone calls; Pieces; Poems; Story; Writers; Writing groups

Subjects: African American authors; Birth; Critique; Death; Divorce; Friend; Friendship; Grandmother; Honesty; Marriage; Nurses; Revisions; Writing

00:42:31 - Teaching creative writing

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Partial Transcript: I want to ask you to talk a little bit about your teaching, and specifically, how do you teach creative writing?

Segment Synopsis: Wilkinson explains how she teaches creative writing, and the mindset that is necessary for both the instructor and the student to possess.

Keywords: Carnegie Center; Childlike; Class size; Classes; Effort; Free will; Ideas; Lexington (Ky.); Mind; Talent; Writers; Writing elements; Writing groups

Subjects: African American authors; Creative writing; Drawing; Editing; Fear; Privacy; Safety; Students; Teaching; Technique

00:49:47 - Creativity

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Partial Transcript: What, what do you think the nature of creativity would be?

Segment Synopsis: Wilkinson defines what the essence of creativity is and what it means to her personally.

Keywords: Creativity; Discovery; Filters; Format; Journey; Process; Writers

Subjects: African American authors; Artist; Freedom; Truth

00:52:59 - Inspirations

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Partial Transcript: Crystal, who or what do you think was your best educator, for your writing?

Segment Synopsis: Wilkinson lists the people in her life who were the most influential on her writing.

Keywords: Books; Carnegie Center; Classes; Colleges; Conferences; Eastern Kentucky University; Friends; Gurney Norman; James Baker Hall; Journalism; Kentucky Women Writers Conference; Lexington (Ky.); Lexington Herald-Leader; Lindsey Wilson College; Marita Golden; National Book Award; Normandi Ellis; Pastels; Published; Virginia Commonwealth University; Visual arts; Writer's groups; Writers

Subjects: African American authors; Article; Charcoal; Freedom; Grandchildren; Grandmother; High school; Influences; Learning; Paint; Teacher; Writing

01:00:02 - Spalding University / Gayl Jones / authors she reads

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Partial Transcript: Um, and only now after I've gotten my first book published and, you know, getting ready to have the second published, and I'm gonna be going to the--Spalding's MFA Program.

Segment Synopsis: Wilkinson briefly mentions her acceptance into Spalding University's Master in Fine Arts (MFA) program. Subsequently, Wilkinson talks of Kentucky author Gayl Jones. The interviewee then talks of the types of books and authors that she typically reads.

Keywords: Authors; Awards; Connections; Creativity; Gayl Jones; George Ella Lyon; Gloria Naylor; India; Ireland; J. California Cooper; James B. Hall; Journals; Kentucky writers; Louisville (Ky.); Magazines; Poems; Poets; Silas House; Spalding University; The New Yorker; Writers

Subjects: African American authors; African American women; Authors; Books; Choice; Diversity; Education; Genius; Influences; Privacy; Work

01:10:01 - Ideas

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Partial Transcript: You mentioned earlier, Crystal that you, you have several works that you've outlined.

Segment Synopsis: Wilkinson illustrates ideas that she recently had for pieces of writing, including a partially developed storyline for a work of fiction.

Keywords: Black women's health; Books; Farmers; Ideas; Iowa; Journaling; Memoirs; Outlining; Pieces; Story; Stress; Towns; Writers

Subjects: African American authors; Farmer; Grandfather; Hippies; Non-fiction; Women

01:14:46 - Impact of teaching writing / reviews

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Partial Transcript: Do you think that being a teacher of writing, um, either helps you or hinders you as a writer?

Segment Synopsis: Wilkinson considers the impact of teaching writing upon her own writing. Following this, Wilkinson talks of the reviews one of her recently published books received from critics.

Keywords: Assumptions; Books; Good reviews; Helping; Human experience; Potential; Stories; Subject matter; Universal; Writers; Writing classes

Subjects: African American authors; Humor; Reviews; School; Students; Teaching

01:19:52 - Impact of work and identity / agent / book title

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Partial Transcript: What is the most important thing you feel you're doing in your work?

Segment Synopsis: Wilkinson reveals the most important impact of her work upon readers. Wilkinson also explores what it means to be a black writer, and recent trends in this regard. Then the interviewee talks of her agent. Lastly, Wilkinson explains the meaning behind the title of her book called "Blackberries."

Keywords: Agents; Black books; Black women; Black writers; Blackberries (book title); Conferences; Country spirit; Husbands; Kentucky; Literary agency; Marie Brown; New York (N.Y.); Poems; Post-slavery; Relatives; Small towns; Trends; Urban experience; Virginia Commonwealth University; Writers

Subjects: African American authors; Blackberries; Comparisons; Farms; Identity; Rural