Crystal Wilkinson

Crystal Wilkinson was born in Hamilton, Ohio, in 1962 and raised in Indian Creek, Kentucky. Her grandparents, Silas and Christine Wilkinson, took her into their care when she was six weeks old. Often describing herself as a country girl, Wilkinson's work reflects a love and homage to her Appalachian roots. She recalls growing up on her grandparent's farm where her grandfather planted tobacco and corn and made sorghum molasses and her grandmother worked as a domestic worker for school teachers in the county. "I lived an enchanted childhood," Crystal says in remembering her days roaming the knobs and hills of her home. "My grandparents gave me the freedom to explore the countryside and to write, to dream, to discover. They wanted me to have things that they didn't have, to know things they didn't know. But whether they knew it or not, they WERE the wisest people I have ever known. I learned so much from them about nature, about art, about life."One of the first generations of her family to attend college, Crystal graduated from Eastern Kentucky University with a B.A. in journalism and an MFA from Spalding University.Crystal is the 2002 recipient of the Chaffin Award for Appalachian Literature and is a member of a Lexington-based writing collective, The Affrilachian Poets. Crystal's latest work,Water Street was recently a long-list finalist for the prestigious Orange Prize and short-listed for a Zora Neal Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation Legacy Award in fiction. She has presented workshops and readings throughout the country including the Sixth International Conference on the Short Story in English at the University of Iowa and the African American Women Writers Conference at the University of the District of Columbia.She is the author of two books, Blackberries, Blackberries (July 2000), and Water Street (September 2002), both published by Toby Press. The paperback version of Water Street is scheduled for release in February 2005. In 2001 Blackberries, Blackberries was named Best Debut Fiction by Today's Librarian Magazine. She has been published in the anthologies Confronting Appalachian Stereotypes: Back Talk from an American Region (University of Kentucky Press 1999); GiftsFrom Our Grandmothers (Crown Publishers, a Division of Random House, May 2000); Eclipsing A Nappy New Millennium (Purdue University, 1998); Home and Beyond: A Half-Century of Short Stories by Kentucky Writers (University Press of Kentucky 2001);A Kentucky Christmas (University Press of Kentucky 2003) and Gumbo: Stories by Black Writers (Doubleday, Harlem Moon Press Fall 2002). Her work has also appeared in various literary journals including: Obsidian II: Black Literature in Review, Southern Exposure, The Briar Cliff Review, LIT, Calyx, African Voices, and the Indiana Review.She is currently working on two first novels. She lives in Bloomington, Indiana.

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