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Prompt to Page With Crystal Wilkinson

Each month, we interview a published writer who shares their favorite writing prompt. Whether you’re just getting started or have written for years, you’ll find ideas and advice to inspire you and help you become a better writer.

Prompt to Page is brought to you in partnership with the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning.

Listen to Episode 2

For our second episode, we talked to Kentucky Poet Laureate Crystal Wilkinson. Crystal shares a writing prompt that inspired an essay in her book Perfect Black. She explains how you can adapt the prompt for fiction or poetry and offers tips to help you generate your best writing.

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About Our Guest

Photo of Crystal Wilkinson, an African American woman wearing yellow glasses and a blue and orange top.Crystal Wilkinson is the award-winning author of Perfect Black, The Birds of Opulence, Water Street, and Blackberries, Blackberries. She is the recipient of a 2021 O. Henry Prize, a 2020 USA Artists Fellowship, and a 2016 Ernest J. Gaines Prize for Literary Excellence.

Nominated for the John Dos Passos Award, the Orange Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, she has received recognition from the Yaddo Foundation, Hedgebrook, The Vermont Studio Center for the Arts, and others.

Her short stories, poems and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including most recently in The Kenyon Review, STORY, Agni Literary Journal, Emergence, Oxford American and Southern Cultures. She currently teaches at the University of Kentucky, where she is Associate Professor of English in the MFA in Creative Writing Program.


If you’d like to read examples that use the braided essay form, Crystal recommends “Not a Good Day for Planting Root Crops” by Marcia Aldrich. Crystal used her own prompt to write her essay, “Dig If You Will the Picture,” which appeared in Oxford American and in her book Perfect Black.

Listen to the podcast for the complete description of Crystal’s prompt.

Join the Prompt to Page Writing Group

Tuesday, October 26, 6:00 PM

Spend time working on this month’s Prompt to Page podcast writing prompts, get feedback, and share writing tips with a community of other writers. Open to all writing levels.

Registration is required.

Submit Your Writing

We’d love to see what you’re writing! Submit a response to the episode 2 prompt for a chance to have it read on a future episode of the podcast.