Transylvania University will honor the winners of the 2023 Judy Gaines Young Book Awards with a public presentation and readings Wednesday, April 12, at 5 p.m. in Carrick Theater.
This year’s winner of the main award is professor emeritus Richard Taylor, a former state poet laureate and recent inductee into the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame. The student recipient is senior Camae Mason of Lexington.
Taylor, who retired last year after 14 years as a Transylvania English professor and Kenan Visiting Writer, has a profound sense of place. “I don’t know another person who knows more about Kentucky history or Kentucky characters,” professor Maurice Manning said. “Richard brings grace and purpose to all of his writing.”
While Taylor has written almost 20 books, the last three “demonstrate the significance of his contribution to the literary culture of Kentucky and the surrounding region,” Manning continued. These include “Snow Falling on Water,” “Bull’s Hell: Poems on the Life of Cassius M. Clay” and “Elkhorn: Evolution of a Kentucky Landscape,” winner of the Thomas D. Clark Medallion.
Taylor earned a B.A. in English from the University of Kentucky, an M.A. in English from the University of Louisville, a J.D. from the UofL School of Law and a Ph.D. in English from UK. He lives near Frankfort.
Before coming to Transylvania, Taylor taught at Kentucky State University and the Governor’s School for the Arts — and he served as director of the Governor’s Scholars Program.
As for the student winner, Mason plans to go into art education after graduation.
She had already published a book of poetry by the time she arrived at Transylvania, Manning said. “While at Transy, she has distinguished herself by writing eloquent and rigorous poetry and prose. She has been an active contributor to The Transylvanian and has been key over the last four years to keeping our campus literary culture vital and thriving.”
These book awards are funded by Byron Young ‘61, in honor of his late wife, who graduated in 1962.