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Jim Wayne Miller joining Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame

A literary icon who taught at WKU will be inducted into the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame this week.

Jim Wayne Miller, a Professor of German language and literature at WKU for 33 years until his death in 1996, will join five others in the 2015 induction ceremony Wednesday (Jan. 28) at the Carnegie Center in Lexington.

Jim Wayne Miller

Jim Wayne Miller

Dr. Miller was a North Carolina native who grew up near Asheville. He kept his ties to Appalachia, serving as a consultant to the Appalachian Studies programs in Kentucky, Tennessee and Ohio and as a visiting Professor in Appalachian Studies at the Berea College Appalachian Center. His wife, WKU English Professor Mary Ellen Miller, will accept the honor and read from his poetry.

“This is quite possibly the most prestigious honor Jim Wayne Miller has ever received,” Professor Miller said. “He would be delighted as all his family, his readers, his friends are.”

She said all inductees are deceased except this year, for the first time, the committees decided to include one living writer, Wendell Berry.

“The honor goes to writers whose work has been not just in the literary field, but in history and other fields as well,” she said. “It is a thrilling thing to see Jim join previous award winners such as Robert Penn Warren, Thomas Clark, James Still, Harriet Simpson Arnow, and, of course, Wendell Berry.”

Other members of the 2015 class include Berry, Guy Davenport, Elizabeth Hardwick, Effie Waller Smith and Hunter S. Thompson. The induction ceremony will be taped and later aired on KET.

“I will accept the honor in Jim’s name and read a poem, perhaps one of the lighter ones since the occasion is a joyous one,” Professor Miller said. “I just hope I don’t cry or that my mascara doesn’t run!”

The Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame was created to recognize Kentucky writers whose work reflects the character and culture of the commonwealth, and to educate Kentuckians about the state’s rich literary heritage. To be eligible this year, writers must be 1) deceased (excluding one living writer); 2) published; 3) someone whose writing is of enduring stature; and 4) someone connected in a significant way to the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Selection to the Hall of Fame involved a three-step process: 1) nominations from the general public; 2) recommendations from a committee that includes former state poets laureate and chaired by Lori Meadows, director of the Kentucky Arts Council; and 3) final selection by the Carnegie Center’s Hall of Fame Creation Committee.

The induction ceremony begins at 7 p.m. ET and is free and open to the public. For more information about the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame, contact Jessica Faye Mohler, Marketing and Communications Director for The Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning, at (859) 254-4175.

Contact: Mary Ellen Miller, (270) 745-5721

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