Kentucky Book Festival kicks off with poetry reading feat. Dr. Jeremy Paden

prison recipes, the new chapbook of poems by Dr. Jeremy Paden. Courtesy of SPD Books

Kentucky’s First Annual Book Festival kicked off in Lexington on November 12. This event is a expansion of the Kentucky Book Fair, a two-day event, and is aimed to acknowledge the diverse authors and works of literature throughout our state.

The first event is called New Kentucky Poetry and Prose, and it was held at 6:30 PM at the Carnegie Center for Literacy & Learning. Four hand-picked authors were given the opportunity to read an excerpt from newly published pieces of work. Two novelists and two poets were featured, one of whom was Jeremy Paden, a professor of Spanish at Transylvania University.

Dr. Paden began his allotted time by explaining where the idea for his poetry book, prison recipes, came from: while earning his Ph.D in Latin American Literature, he met two people who had been detained for political reasons in Argentina and Chile.

A story he’d heard influenced a poem about how Argentinian detainees made a dulce de leche dish with white bread and caramel made over a hot plate. The poem bounced back and forth between enjoying the treat at home and making do while imprisoned, and discussed how eating two different versions of the same food evokes two different feelings.

The majority of his poems were either influenced by recipes made during Argentinian and Chilean detainment or by a Latin American folk singer he compared to Bob Dylan.

The last poem he read was a poem by Juan Gelman, translated by himself. This poet was exiled from Argentina after opposing the government at the time, and his son and pregnant daughter-in-law were taken by the Argentinian police. He wrote poetry about his son’s inevitable death as a result, but has been searching for his granddaughter for over two decades.

The 2018 Kentucky Book Festival will continue until November 17. An event will be held every day. Its schedule can be found on the Kentucky Humanities Council’s website.