Coal Black Voices The Poets  
. . .
. . .
About This Site The Documentary The Curriculum The Affrilachian Poets Key Documents Resources Poetry Calendar Store Home
. . . . . .
. . . . . .

O Tobacco

You are a Kentucky tiller's livelihood.
You were school clothes in August
the turkey at Thanksgiving
with all the trimmings.

I close my eyes
see you tall
stately green
lined up in rows.
See sweat seeping
through Granddaddy's shirt
as he fathered you first.

You were protected by him
sometimes even more
than any other thing
that rooted in our earth.

Just like family you were
into making him proud.

Spread out for miles
you were the only
pretty thing
he knew.

When I think of you
at the edge of winter,
I see you, brown, wrinkled
just like Granddaddy's skin.

A ten-year old me
plays in the shadows
of the stripping room
the wood stove burns
calloused hands twist
through the length
of your leaves.
Granddaddy smiles
nods at me when he
thinks I'm not looking.

You are pretty
and braided
lined up in rows
like a room full of
brown girls
with skirts hooped out
for dancing.






Crystal Wilkinson's books available on

Blackberries, Blackberries

Blackberries, Blackberries cover

Paperback: 192 pages ;
Publisher: The Toby Press LLC;
(July 7, 2000)

"a storyteller in the tradition of Southerners such as Eudora Welty and Carson McCullers...She joins that tradition confidently."



Water Street

Water Street Cover

Hardcover: 175 pages ;
Publisher: The Toby Press LLC;
(August 2002)


A native of rural south central Kentucky, Crystal Wilkinson, is a poet and short fiction writer as well as an arts administrator and public relations professional. She grew up in Indian Creek, Kentucky. She is currently working as creative writing instructor and assistant director for the Carnegie Center for Learning and Literacy in Lexington, where she also heads the center's writing mentor program and public relations efforts. Crystal is also a member of the creative writing faculty for the Kentucky Governor's School for the Arts, a state-wide arts opportunity for high school sophomores and juniors. In addition, she has conducted various creative writing workshops and performed literary readings for both adults and children including central Kentucky area schools and colleges

For nearly ten years, Wilkinson has worked as a marketing and public relations professional. Crystal1s poetry and short fiction has appeared most recently in Obsidian II: Black Literature in Review , Southern Exposure, The Briar Cliff Review, Calyx and Collage and Bricolage. She has received recognition for her craft including being named a 1997 Kentucky Arts Council Al Smith Fellow; being selected to participate in the 1996 Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Writer1s Week at Virginia Commonwealth University; and being named a 1995 and 1999 Kentucky Women Writer1s Fellow by the Mary Anderson Center for the Arts in Indiana. Her talent has also been recognized by the Kentucky Foundation for Women, which provided her with funds in 1994 and 1998 to complete a collection of short stories.


. .