Crystal Wilkinson is the award-winning author of The Birds of Opulence (winner of the 2016 Ernest J. Gaines Prize for Literary Excellence), Water Street and Blackberries, Blackberries. Nominated for both the Orange Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, she has received recognition from The Kentucky Foundation for Women, The Kentucky Arts Council, The Mary Anderson Center for the Arts, The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and is a recipient of the Chaffin Award for Appalachian Literature. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and her short stories, poems and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including most recently in the Oxford American and Southern Cultures.
Her most recent novel, a lyrical exploration of love and loss, The Birds of Opulence centers on several generations of women in a bucolic southern black township as they live with and sometimes surrender to madness. Her poetry collection, Perfect Black, was published August 2021.
Crystal identifies as a southern, feminist fiction writer, and grew up in the hills of Kentucky. She currently teaches at the University of Kentucky where she is Associate Professor of English in the MFA in Creative Writing Program. She is a 2020 USA Artist Fellowship Recipient, and makes her home in Lexington, KY. In 2021, Crystal was named the Poet Laureate for Kentucky.