Crystal Wilkinson headshot.
Photo by Carsen Bryant

Crystal Wilkinson

Poet, Novelist, Creative Nonfiction Writer

2024 Fellow


Crystal Wilkinson (she/her) is an essayist, poet, novelist, and creative nonfiction author born in Hamilton, Ohio, and raised in Indian Creek, Kentucky.

Wilkinson is the author of Praisesong for the Kitchen Ghosts (Clarkson Potter, 2024), a culinary memoir, Perfect Black (University Press of Kentucky, 2021), a collection of poems, and three works of fiction—The Birds of Opulence, Water Street, and Blackberries, Blackberries. Wilkinson’s work explores Black Appalachia and the rural South.

She is a recipient of an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Poetry, an O. Henry Prize, a USA Artists Fellowship, and an Ernest J. Gaines Prize for Literary Excellence. She has been awarded fellowships from the Academy of American Poets, Yaddo Foundation, Hedgebrook, Vermont Studio Center for the Arts, Hermitage Foundation and others. Her writing has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including the Atlantic, Kenyon Review, Story, Agni, Oxford American. She was the 2021–2023 poet laureate of Kentucky.

Wilkinson is the editor of Screen Door Press, a visionary imprint from the University Press of Kentucky, publishing diverse fiction throughout the Black diaspora. Wilkinson teaches creative writing at the University of Kentucky where she is Bush-Holbrook Endowed Professor.