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Cumberlands hosts annual Palmer Lecture


Williamsburg, Ky. — Recently, University of the Cumberlands (UC) English department held its annual Palmer Memorial Lecture in remembrance of Dr. Robert Palmer, former faculty member of the English department. Former Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) English Professor Dr. Harry Brown was the honored guest speaker for this year’s lecture.

Brown entertained the audience with poems he had written over the years, including several about his grandparents. Before reading each poem Brown shared some characteristics of his grandparents making the poems more personal. One of his poems, “Old Preacher Papa,” was a humorous look at his grandfather’s “first flock,” the aspiring preacher’s chickens who were subject to his first sermons.

“It was great hearing Brown’s personal work as it showcased his love for his grandparents and the type of people that they were,” said UC student Maggy Rozen (Paris, France). “Especially when he shared that his grandfather was a responsible man that took care of his family. I can see how that had a major influence in his life.”

While Brown’s personal experience inspires much of his work, his career has provided him with knowledge that he shares with other aspiring writers.

Brown shared information on his career with the students, and how he got his start as a writer, including his method for writing poems. “I work on poems for weeks sometimes, changing and adding lines and moving them around,” said Dr. Brown.

He also shared tips: read to learn how to write better; keep notebooks to log your ideas; write about anything that might interest you.

Brown is a retired Foundation Professor of English at Eastern Kentucky University and still teaches part-time at EKU’s Corbin and Danville campuses. In addition to teaching creative writing and American literature, he has co-directed seminars funded by the Kentucky Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities, directed the EKU Summer Creative Writing Conference, and has served as editor for EKU journals Scripsit and The Chaffin Journal.

In 2007, Brown received a Kentucky Arts Council Professional Assistance Award for “continued professional development” in poetry writing. He has published six collections of poetry and was co-editor of God’s Pantry: Modern Kentucky Writers.

Some twenty years ago, Jackson, Mississippi, businessman and eventual U. S. Ambassador to Portugal, John Palmer, created the Dr. Robert L. Palmer Memorial Lecture series to honor his uncle, Dr. Robert L. Palmer, long-time member of the UC English Department and pastor of Williamsburg’s First Baptist Church. Past Palmer lecturers have been Lee Smith, Jim Wayne Miller, Frank X Walker, Willie Morris and U. S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins.

Located in Williamsburg, Ky., University of the Cumberlands is an institution of regional distinction, which currently offers four undergraduate degrees in more than 40 major fields of study; nine pre-professional programs; twelve graduate degrees, including two doctorate, two specialist and eight master’s degrees; certifications in education; and online programs.

Article provided by Tiera Ball, University of the Cumberlands Multimedia & Athletic Services Student Assistant