Affrilachia: Finding The Path


Dr. Frank X Walker coined the term “Affrilachia” in 1991 after a poetry reading of Appalachian writers was renamed from “The Best of Appalachian Writing” to “The Best of Southern Writing.” The change came because Nikky Finney, an African-American poet from South Carolina, was featured in the line-up. After that event, Walker found Appalachian people defined in his dictionary as white mountaineers.

Affrilachia asserts a challenge to the homogeneous myth of the Anglo and Scots-Irish Appalachian. Starting in the early 1990s, Walker, with a group of poets, began calling themselves the Affrilachian Poets. Since, numerous books of poetry and some fictional works, along with scholarly books and journal articles, have forcefully emerged in Appalachian writing, as testified in the many award winning authors such as Kentucky Poet laureate Frank X Walker and 2011 National Book of the Year Award for Poetry Nikky Finney, for Head Off & Split.

This Pathfinder will introduce scholars to Affrilachia through the Affrilachian Poets by looking at works by several founders of the group. Important journals, scholarly works, and non-peer reviewed (yet important) information make up the rest of this guide, directing Affrilachian neophytes to definitions, perspectives, analyses, and interviews.

Introductory Text: 

A basic definition of “Affrilachian” appears in:

Newberry, Elizabeth R. “Affrilachians.” Rudy Abramson and Jean Haskell eds. Encyclopedia of Appalachia. Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press, 2006. 246. APP COLL F106 .E53 2006

A necessary and useful introduction to understanding the Affrilachia Poets appears at:

The Affrilachian Poets. Accessed 2 Oct. 2013.

Library of Congress Subject Headings: 

Highly relevant:

African Americans – Appalachian Region – Poetry

Appalachian Region, Southern -- Social life and customs – Periodicals

African Americans – Appalachian Region, Southern – History – Periodicals

African Americans – Appalachian Region, Southern – Economic Conditions – 20th Century

Also relevant:

African Americans – Kentucky – Poetry

African Americans – Kentucky – Fiction

More General:

Kentucky – Fiction

African American Men – Poetry

African American Women – Poetry

African Americans – Poetry

Appalachian Region – Poetry

American Poetry – African American Authors

American Poetry – Hispanic American Authors

American Poetry – 21st Century

American poetry – African American authors – 20th Century

American Poetry – Southern States

Southern States – Poetry

United States – Race Relations – Poetry

African Americans – Fiction

American Literature – Appalachian Region, Southern – Social Conditions – Periodicals

Appalachian Region, Southern – Periodicals


African American jockeys – Kentucky – 19th Century – Poetry

African Americans in horse racing – Kentucky – 19th Century – Poetry

Explorers – Poetry

Slaves – Poetry

Clipping Files Subject Headings – W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection: 

African Americans

Authors – Appalachia E, F, G and V-Z

Library of Congress Call Numbers: 

PS3573.A4253 A32 2000



PS3614.A974 033 2011


F217.A65 P58

F106 .E53 2006

F106.A137 A6

F216.2 .A66


PS537 .I75

PE1628 .N429 2010 (reference)


Ellis, Kelly Norman. Tougaloo Blues. Chicago: Third World Press, 2003. ASU SPEC APP COLL PS3605.L467 T68 2003

Finney, Nikky. Head Off & Split. Evanston: Tri Quarterly Books/Northwestern University Press, 2011. ASU SPEC APP COLL PS3556.I53 H43 2011

Nazario y Colòn, Ricardo. Of Jìbaros and Hillbillies. Austin: Plain View Press, 2011. ASU SPEC APP COLL PS3614.A974 033 2011

Walker, Frank X. Affrilachia. Lexington: Old Cove Press, 2000. ASU SPEC APP COLL PS3573.A4253 A32 2000

Wilkinson, Crystal. Blackberries, Blackberries. London: The Toby Press, 2000. ASU SPEC APP COLL PS3573.I44184 B57 2000

Guides, Encyclopedias, and Dictionaries: 

“Affrilachian.” New Oxford American Dictionary. Ed, Angus Stevenson and Christine A. Lindberg. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. 27. ASU Reference PE1628 .N429 2010

Newberry, Elizabeth R. Encyclopedia of Appalachia. Ed, Rudy Abramson and Jean Haskell. Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press, 2006. 246. ASU SPEC APP COLL F106 .E53 2000


“Bibliography of African-American Appalachian Books.” Appalachian Heritage 36.3 Summer 2008. 109-115 ASU SPEC COLL Unbound. No call number.

Abstracts and Indices: 


This database features a multi-disciplinary (weighted in the humanities and social sciences) collection of over 1,000 journal back issues from two to five years past the present date.

Literary References Center Plus

Literary Ref Center is, if not the largest, at least a massive database of primary and secondary texts relating to literature, including over 100,000 literary criticisms, 140,000 plus author biographies, and 605,000 book reviews, featuring many current articles related to literature.

MLA International Bibiliography

This huge database, devoted to literature and folklore, along with language and linguistics, offers over one million records with citations and some full-text from more than 4,400 journals and globally published serials from the early 20th-century to the present. MLA also indexes for many other forms of writing.

Project Muse

Project Muse feature over 335 journals from 1996-Present, also indexing for 200 more. Coverage is focused in the humanities and social sciences.


WorldCat gains users access to over 50 million records, from thousands of years of writing, in over 400 languages, and is cataloged by global library members of OCLC.

WorldCat is crucial for Affrilachian Studies in allowing scholars access to the most Affrilachian writers available in one database/“library,” and nearly every book, chap or otherwise, of poetry, fiction, academic work, and undergraduate, masters, and PhD theses and dissertations.


Pluck!: The Journal of Affrilachian Arts & Culture. Cincinnati, OH: Duncan Hill Press, LLC. ASU SPEC APP COLL F217.A65 P58 2007—.

Appalachian Heritage. Hindman, KY: Appalachian Heritage, Inc. APP COLL F106.A137 A6 ASU SPEC APP COLL F106.A137 A6 1973-2012. (2008-2013 full-text available online at Project Muse)

Appalachian Journal. Boone, NC: Appalachian State University. ASU SPEC APP COLL F216.2 .A66 1972—2013. (1972-2009 full-text available online at JSTOR)

Journal of Appalachian Studies. Morgantown, WV: Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University, for the Appalachian Studies Association. ASU APP SPEC COLL F106.J74 1996-2006, 2008-2010. (2004-2012 full-text available online at Academic Search Complete)

Special Journal Issues:

“Frank X Walker Issue.” The Iron Mountain Review 25 (2009). ASU APP SPEC COLL PS537 .I75

Appalachian Heritage 38.3 (Summer 2008). ASU SPEC APP COLL, Unbound, no call number.

Appalachian Heritage 39.4 (Fall 2011). ASU SPEC APP COLL F106.A137 A6


The Affrilachian Poets. Accessed 2 Oct. 2013.

Appalachian Center at UK. University of Kentucky College of Arts and Sciences. Accessed 2 Oct. 2013.

Audio and Video Sources: 


Donahue, Jean, and Fred Johnson. Coal Black Voices. Covington, KY: Media Working Group, 2001. APP SPEC COLL VIDEO VC 449.

Walker, Frank and Nikky Finney.Visiting Writers Series [videorecording]: Frank X Walker and Nikky Finney. Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series. Boone, NC (2003). ASU Special University Archives Records, UA.5105 Tape 115.

Wilkinson, Crystal. Visiting Writers Series [videorecording]: Crystal Wilkinson. Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series. Boone, NC (2004). ASU Special University Archives Records, UA.5105 Tape 129.

Compiled by: 

Forrest Gray Yerman

Date: 12/11/13