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Carl West Award

The Carl West Literary Award, presented by Kentucky Humanities, recognizes a living individual (journalist, educator, librarian, author, etc.) or institution (publishing house, university press, literary organization, etc.) who has made a significant impact on the literary culture and community of the Commonwealth. The award is named for journalist Carl West, editor of the Frankfort State Journal, who founded the Kentucky Book Fair. Through this award, we hope to honor the contributions Carl made to Kentucky’s literary heritage. The winner, who will be awarded $500, will be celebrated during the annual Kentucky Book Festival and profiled in the KBF catalog insert in the October issue of Kentucky Monthly magazine. Nominations will be open from May 15 – July 1, 2022.

Info about Carl West:

Before becoming editor of Frankfort’s State Journal, West became recognized in Frankfort and Washington, D.C. as an aggressive and intelligent reporter. A native of Campbell County, he studied journalism at the University of Kentucky. West spent time as a Frankfort correspondent for the Kentucky Post and then covered the White House and Pentagon for the Scripps Howard News Service. His work with the National Press Club’s Book Fair in Washington inspired West to establish a similar event in Frankfort, the state capitol, and in 1981, the first Kentucky Book Fair was held at the Kentucky Dept. for Libraries and Archives building.

2021 Carl West Award Winner: Dr. James C. Klotter

This year’s Carl West Award winner is Dr. James C. Klotter. Klotter has written, edited, or co-edited nearly twenty books on Kentucky history, including, Henry Clay: The Man Who Would Be President (2018). Klotter was a staff member at the Kentucky Historical Society from 1973 to 1998, where he also served as executive director, and he was a professor of history at Georgetown College from 1998 to 2018. He remains an active researcher, author, and Kentucky’s State Historian—a post he has held since 1980.

Henry Clay - Klotter

Klotter’s award-winning book, Henry Clay, the Man Who Would be President.

2021 Award winner, James Klotter. Photo credit, Georgetown College.
2021 Award winner, James Klotter. Photo credit, Georgetown College.

Information about the 2019 winner: Wendell Berry

Born in New Castle, Kentucky, in 1934, Wendell Berry is a poet, essayist, novelist, and farmer. He attended the University of Kentucky, earning a B.A. and an M.A. in English. Berry has taught at Stanford University, Georgetown College, New York University, the University of Cincinnati, Bucknell University, and the University of Kentucky. He is the author of more than 40 books.

Wendell Berry has received numerous honors and awards, including a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, Membership in the Fellowship of Southern Writers, the Ingersoll Foundation’s T. S. Elliot Award, the National Humanities Medal, and the 2012 Jefferson Lecturer, to name a few.

Berry and his wife, Tanya Amyx Berry, live on their farm in Port Royal, Kentucky.

Carl West, the award's namesake.
Carl West, the award’s namesake.
Author Wendell Berry receives the inaugural Carl West Award in 2019.
Author Wendell Berry receives the inaugural Carl West Award in 2019.

Nominations will be open from May 15 – July 1, 2022.

Feel free to review application requirements below, but please do not submit your nomination until May 15, 2022. Thank you!

Thank you!

Thanks so much to all who attended this year’s festival! Please provide feedback about your experience by submitting a survey. 

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