Writers Hall of Fame to induct UK alumni

President Obama awards a 2010 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal to Wendell E. Berry for his achievements as a poet, novelist, farmer, and conservationist, in the East Room at the White House inWashington D.C., March 2, 2011. (Mary F. Calvert/MCT

Former UK professor Wendell Berry will be the first living person inaugurated into the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame on Wednesday, said Jessica Faye Mohler, the marketing and communications director for the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning.

The ceremony will be held in the Carnegie Center at 7 p.m. and will include a speech by Berry, as well as five more inaugurations for Guy Davenport, Elizabeth Hardwick, Jim Wayne Miller, Effie Waller Smith and Hunter S. Thompson, according to the Carnegie Center’s press release.

The Carnegie Center’s Hall of Fame was created in 2013, according to the press release. Mohler said that for the past two years the Carnegie Center focused on inducting only the deceased to make certain that their work was given proper weight.

“The literary pool in Kentucky is very deep,” Mohler said. “We wanted to make sure we honored the past before we honored the current driving writers.”

According to Counterpoint LLC’s webpage about Berry’s books, the award-winning author earned a bachelor’s degree from UK in 1956 and a master’s degree in 1957. He went on to teach at the university from 1964 to 1977, and again from 1987 to 1993.

Davenport, who will also be inducted this year, taught on the UK Department of English staff from 1963 to 1991, according to the obituary in The Independent from January 2005.

“I think (the ceremony is) a chance for UK students to have a glimpse of their state’s history, its legacy,” Mohler said.

Many of the 175 seats in the Carnegie Center will be reserved, Mohler said, but when the doors open at 6:30, early attendees may be able to secure the last few available chairs.

Furthermore, she added, standing room will be plentiful and the ceremony will be broadcast throughout the building.

“There’s not a lot of things we can rally behind, and a Hall of Fame — basketball, literature or any other kind — is something students can really be proud of,” Mohler said.