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Affrilachia & AppalachA'villle Together at YMI

126 years ago, African-American leaders dreamed of a place in Asheville where community members could gather to celebrate culture. With borrowed money from George Vanderbilt, a plan from the architect of Biltmore Estate, and work from Black craftsmen and builders, the YMI Cultural Center was constructed in the heart of town.

26 years ago, Frank X Walker, artist, activist, poet, and teacher, sought to reveal the African-American experience in Appalachia. In the process he coined the term “Affrilachia” and co-founded a group of multicultural poets who express the region's rich diversity.

This March the Appalachian Studies Association will hold its 42nd annual meeting in Asheville to explore AppalachA’ville. People from across the mountains will gather to share memories, observations, thoughts, frustrations and hopes about the place that is their home.

A key moment of discovery will happen on Saturday, March 16, when Affrilachia and AppalachA'ville come together in the historic YMI Cultural Center for an awesome evening of poetry reading, story telling and fellowship--a celebration of cultural diversity in Asheville and throughout the region.

The program Affrilachia y el Caribe will feature three poets: Ricardo Nazario-Colon, Shauna Morgan Kirlew, and Frank X Walker. Here are their brief bios.

Ricardo Nazario-Colon grew up in Puerto Rico; is co-founder of Affrilachian Poets, author of Of Jibaros and Hillbillies, currently serves as Chief Diversity Officer at Western Carolina University.

Shauna M. Morgan Kirlew grew up in Jamaica but in the US identifies as African American, author of Fear of Dogs and Other Animals, currently lives in Virginia and teaches at Howard University.

Frank X Walker grew up in Virginia; is co-founder of Affrilachian Poets, is editor of PLUCK! The Journal of Affrilachian Arts and Culture, and teaches creative writing at the University of Kentucky.

Funded by Asheville, NC (March 2019)