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2016 Ky. Writers Hall Of Fame Inductees Include Bobbie Ann Mason, First Ever Songwriter

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A new lineup up of inductees will join the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame pantheon this month. And 2016’s list branches out to include the hall’s first songwriter.

Typically reserved for prose and poetry authors, the Hall of Fame is actually open to writers of all stripes – and this year voters headed by the Kentucky Arts Council approved the addition of Appalachian folk singer and songwriter Jean Ritchie, who passed away last June.

"We previously had nominations for her, but this year I think people just recognized how much she represented Kentucky all over the world and how she represented Appalachia in a really powerfully positive artistic way," says Carnegie Center executive director Neal Chethik.

A singing group comprised of Ritchie’s nieces will perform at the official induction later this month. Ritchie joins three other deceased inductees: James Lane Allen, Harlan Hubbard, and Alice Hegan Rice. Famed short story author Bobbie Ann Mason will also become only the second living member, alongside writer and activist Wendell Berry.

"She has been a pioneer of sorts, particularly in short story writing," Chethik adds. "She's been living in Kentucky for the last 20 years or so and, of course, she was born here and went away for some of the middle portion of her writing life. But she's come home and she loves Kentucky, we love her, and we're excited to be honoring her."

Nominations made by the public are pared down and voted on by a statewide panel of writers, bookstore owners, and literary experts. The Induction Ceremony featuring Mason will be held January 28th at the Carnegie Center. 

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