"I was flattered," he said about being approached for an essay. "I had heard it before but didn't know its rich history or its connection to Edward Murrow.
"They asked me to send a sampling of things I would like to write about because they were working with a lot of people at the same time and didn't want to duplicate (themes). I sent three or four, and someone was doing all of those. Then I sent one on creativity and they really liked it. They asked me to expand on that idea."
Exec producer is based in Louisville
Dan Gediman, the executive producer and primary person behind "This I Believe," is based in Louisville. His mother-in-law had read an op-ed piece by Walker in The Courier-Journal, as well as reviews of his work. Gediman though Walker would be a good fit for the series.
"One of many things we do with the series is showcase a variety of different kinds of beliefs," Gediman explained. "Different kinds of beliefs, different kinds of people ... and we have had no one from anywhere close to the mountains thus far. I'm from Kentucky and I'm keenly aware of mountain culture, and I felt this was a large swath of American experience that had not been showcased.
"Frank is a unique embodiment of a corner of that culture. This was an opportunity to hear from someone who has his unique, creative background and ability to express himself poetically. We've been spread out geographically and with different life experiences so far, and that has been represented by the people we have had in the series. We're planning on stretching out even further."
Walker's essay about growing up in Danville recounts a journey.
"It talks about growing up in your area. And it has a mixture of his mother's ingenuity and his escape into art and how he dealt with being bullied and all the ways art in its various forms has nurtured him and given him solace and substance and career, and how that ties to his cornerstone belief in the power of creativity," Gediman said.
Currently, Walker is teaching as well as editing an anthology of multi-ethnic poets he's met across the country and researching a novel. Additionally, he's had a busy book tour season that he says is "not quite over yet."
He also is starting a small press.
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"The press is actually named after something. It's called Duncan Hill Press. It's where my family lived when I learned to read," Walker explained. "It's where mother is buried. It has a special place in my heart."
About ‘This I Believe’
“This I Believe” from NPR is a national project that invites Americans from all walks of life to share brief essays describing the core values and beliefs that guide their lives. The project is based on the popular 1950s radio series of the same name hosted by Edward R. Murrow.
Then, people such as Eleanor Roosevelt, presidents Harry Truman and Herbert Hoover, Helen Keller, Jackie Robinson and Albert Einstein were a few of the hundreds of people who participated in the series. “This I Believe” reached 39 million radio listeners daily and appeared weekly in 85 leading newspapers.
The current series kicked off in April 2005 with Isabel Allende. Essayists such as former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist John Updike, Academy Award-winning director Errol Morris and physicist Brian Green have participated.
Gediman said the idea for reviving “This I Believe” came about a few years ago. He was home sick with the flu and found a book of essays from the original “This I Believe” series on his bookshelves. He called his friend and long-time collaborator Jay Allison with the idea, and a series was hatched.
Gediman says he had left public radio “because I hadn’t really found something I could be passionate about in terms of a project.”