English professor named state speaker

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Story by Lindsey Coleman, Contributing writer

For the eighth year in a row, Constance Alexander has been chosen by the Kentucky Humanities Council to be a part of the Humanities Council Speakers Bureau.

Alexander is an adjunct professor of English at Murray State and is the only Murray State professor to be selected for the Speakers Bureau this year.

As a member of the Speakers Bureau, she will travel throughout Kentucky and speak at various organizations’ events in 2016 and 2017 and share about two of her written works.

Alexander said the purpose of the Speakers Bureau is to offer affordable speakers for mainly nonprofits at an affordable cost.

“The Humanities Council is such a great asset for Kentucky,” Alexander said.

According to the Kentucky Humanities Council website, “Everyone has a story to tell, and everyone can learn from the stories of others. These stories, taken together, are the stories of our communities, our counties, our regions and our unique Kentucky culture and heritage.”

Alexander said presentations through the Speakers Bureau are about an hour long, and cover a wide range of topics, like culture, history, cuisine, literacy and storytelling.

Alexander presents on two of her works: “Kiroy Was Here” and “Who Needs June Cleaver?”

Alexander said “Kilroy Was Here” is a book of poetry that resulted from an oral history research endeavor, in which Alexander talked to people who were children during World War II.

According to Alexander’s website, “Kentucky State Historian James Klotter finds the poems ‘sad and sorrowful, warm and witty,’ using ‘the power of poetry to personalize war.’”

During her presentation, Alexander said she will talk about interviews and read excerpts from the book. She encourages her audience to take the time to capture others’ experiences through the preservation of oral history, she said. 

Alexander also said that through her book, people become educated about history through literature.

Alexander said the other work she will present this year, “Who Needs June Cleaver?,” is a memoir and partly a reaction to the sitcom “Leave It to Beaver.” 

Alexander said that she grew up in a home with a mother unlike the typical mother figure portrayed in “Leave it to Beaver,” and that sparked a conversation for her about her childhood.

The book is a compilation of radio commentaries, personal essays and 27 years’ worth of columns that she wrote for the Murray Ledger & Times. In that column, she explored what it was like growing up in the 1950s and 1960s.

Alexander said she hopes that through this presentation of “Who Needs June Cleaver?,” her audiences will realize the importance of newspapers and media.

She said that as she wrote columns over the years, she had lots of feedback from the community about their similar experiences.

In the past, Alexander had the privilege of speaking to groups in Madisonville, Kentucky, and Frankfort, Kentucky, at their respective cooperative extension offices.

Alexander said she would love to do a presentation at Murray State that would coincide with the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor this year.