Neil Chethik and the staff of the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning in Gratz Park faced a challenge: How to better showcase Kentucky as a state where, Chethik says, great writers thrive.
That was the genesis of the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame, which will induct six writers from among 13 finalists at a ceremony on Thursday.
"When a state pays attention to its writers, it means education is valued in that community," said Chethik, executive director of the Carnegie Center. "... There's something about Kentucky that produces great writers."
The first set of finalists was culled from 44 nominees. The nominations were considered by a Hall of Fame committee chaired by Lori Meadows, director of the Kentucky Arts Council.
A Carnegie Center committee of staff members made selections based on the work of the Hall of Fame committee.
The criteria were that the author must have been published, produced writing of enduring status and "connected in a significant way to the commonwealth of Kentucky."
There's one other criterion: For the first year, the authors to be considered had to be dead. That restriction will be lifted in the future.
Chethik said he hopes that schoolchildren visiting the center will see the Hall of Fame list and know that Kentucky produces great writers and that they can aspire to be included in that list.
"That's what we're hoping for, that they can see the chance to be on that wall one day," Chethik said.
IF YOU GO
Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame induction of its first six members
When: 6-7:30 p.m. Jan. 24
Where: Carnegie Center, 251 W. Second St.
Learn more: (859) 254-4175, Carnegiecenterlex.org