The Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning has announced five new members of the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame to be inducted in a ceremony Jan. 28, in addition to Wendell Berry.
Berry, who was previously announced, will be the first living inductee into the hall, which was started in 2013 and currently has 13 honorees, including Robert Penn Warren, James Still, James Baker Hall, Rebecca Caudill and Thomas Merton.
“To be recognized in that way at home is a very pleasing thing,” Berry said to Herald-Leader columnist Tom Eblen, earlier this month. “And a relieving thing, actually.”
The inductees are selected by public nominations, recommendations from a committee headed by Kentucky Arts Council director Lori Meadows and including former Kentucky poet laureates, and final selections by the Carnegie Center’s Hall of Fame Creation Committee. Center director Neil Chethik told Eblen there were more than 75 nominees this year.
The deceased inductees are, in alphabetical order:
Guy Davenport (Fayette County). Davenport taught English at the University of Kentucky for three decades and his writing included essays, poetry, translations and short stories, which is what he was best known for. Born in Anderson, S.C., he was educated at Duke University, Harvard and Oxford, and had a who’s who list of artistic and literary friendships including Ezra Pound. He died in 2005 at age 77.
Elizabeth Hardwick (Fayette County). A Lexington native, Hardwick co-founded The New York Review of Books in 1962. She published three novels, four books of criticism and a short story collection. Upon her death in 2007, at age 91, The New York Times described her as a woman, “who went from being a studious Southern Belle to a glittering member of the New York City intellectual elite.”
Jim Wayne Miller (Warren County). Born in North Carolina, Miller studied at Berea College and Vanderbilt University and became known as one of the leading Appalachian poets, winning honors such as the Appalachian Writers Association Book of the Year Award and the Appalachian Consortium Laurel Leaves Award. He taught at Western Kentucky University and died in 1996 at age 59.
Effie Waller Smith (Pike County). Smith was born to former slaves in the Pike County town of Chole Creek in 1879. She studied at Kentucky State University and published three volumes of poetry. The town was integrated, which was unique at that time, and her parents sent her to college, realizing the importance of education. Following the death of her husband, she moved to Wisconsin, where she died in 1960 at the age of 80.
Hunter S. Thompson (Jefferson County). Known as the father of gonzo journalism, Thompson became a pop culture figure with pieces he wrote for Rolling Stone magazine and books such as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey into the Heart of the American Dream. His 1970 piece, The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved introduced his style of journalism where the writer is involved and becomes a central figure in the story. A Louisville native, he died in 2005 in Colorado at age 67.
The induction ceremony will be at 7 p.m. Jan. 28 at the Carnegie Center, and will include readings from the writers’ works by living Kentucky authors and a speech from Berry. Admission is free.