The Holly Hill Inn Poetry Dinner Series is an entire summer’s worth of cuisine inspired by Kentucky’s farmers and literary tradition, poetry in particular. The poems are guiding chef and owner Ouita Michel and chef de cuisine Tyler McNabb in creating menus with, as always at Holly Hill Inn, the freshest ingredients from local farms.

Poems were curated by Rebecca Gayle Howell, Poetry Editor for Oxford American and James Still Writer-in-Residence at Hindman Settlement School in Knott County, Ky.

Reservations by calling (859) 846-4732 or click here for reservations online.

For poems and menus, please click here or on the titles below.

I see poetry as an extension of Kentucky, as memory and place and emotion, and I often see and experience my cooking in the same way.
— Ouita Michel

Rebecca Gayle Howell, curator

Rebecca Gayle Howell is a 2019 United States Artists Fellow. Her most recent book is American Purgatory, selected by Don Share for Great Britain's 2016 Sexton Prize and named a must-read collection by Poetry London, The Millions, and the Courier-Journal. She is also the author of Render / An Apocalypse, which received wide critical acclaim, most notably by David L. Ulin for the Los Angeles Times who called it "remarkable." Among her honors are fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and the Carson McCullers Center, as well as a Pushcart Prize. Howell is the Poetry Editor for Oxford American and serves as the James Still Writer-in-Residence at Hindman Settlement School in Knott County, Kentucky. In 2018 Howell was named the John Egerton Scholar for the Southern Foodways Alliance, and she is mighty proud to have lines from Render selected as the epigraph for Chef Edward Lee’s memoir, Buttermilk Graffiti, which received the 2019 James Beard Award for Best Book. Photo: Matt White


June 26-July 13
George Ella Lyon, Where I’m From

George Ella Lyon is the author of more than 50 books for readers of all ages. Her numerous honors include the Jesse Stuart Media Award, Lamont Hall Award, Golden Kite Award, a Best of the Year citation from Publisher’s Weekly, and a Book of the Year citation by the Appalachian Writers Association. Lyon grew up in Harlan County, then raised her own family in Lexington, with her husband, the musician Stephen C. Lyon. Today her work’s loving portrait of Appalachia is anthologized and taught across the world. From 2015-2017, Lyon served as Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Photo: Ann W. Olson


July 17-July 27
Maurice Manning, Bucolic LXXVIII

Maurice Manning’s first book of poems, Lawrence Booth’s Book of Visions, was chosen by poet and judge W.S. Merwin for the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award. His subsequent books include A Companion for Owls: Being the Commonplace Book of D. Boone, Lone Hunter, Back Woodsman, &c., Bucolics, The Common Man, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in poetry, The Gone and the Going Away, and One Man’s Dark. Manning has received fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and the Guggenheim Foundation. He is a professor of English at Transylvania University and lives with his family in Washington County, Kentucky. Photo: Steve Cody


July 31-Aug. 10
Crystal Wilkinson, O Tobacco

Crystal Wilkinson is an African-American feminist writer from Indian Creek, Kentucky. Her debut story collection, Blackberries, Blackberries, was named a Best Debut Fiction by Today’s Librarian and received the Chaffin Award for Appalachian Literature. Her follow-up collection, Water Street, was shortlisted for the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award and longlisted for Great Britain’s Orange Prize. Her latest, The Birds of Opulence, a novel, received the Ernest J. Gaines Prize for Literary Excellence, as well as the Weatherford Award for Appalachian Literature and the Judy Gaines Young Book Award. She and her partner, the artist Ron Davis (upfromsomedirt), make their home in Lexington, where Wilkinson has served as a community leader in the arts for more than twenty years. Today, she is an associate professor of English at the University of Kentucky. Photo: Anastasia Pottinger


Aug. 14-24
Silas House, Hazel Dickens

Silas House is the nationally bestselling author of six novels—Clay's Quilt; A Parchment of Leaves; The Coal Tattoo; Eli the Good; Same Sun Here (co-authored with Neela Vaswani), and Southernmost—as well as a book of creative nonfiction, Something's Rising, co-authored with Jason Howard; and three plays: The Hurting Part, This Is My Heart for You, and In These Fields, with Sam Gleaves. A member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, his work has been honored with the E.B. White Award, the Weatherford Award in Appalachian Literature, the Jesse Stuart Award, the Judy Gaines Young Award, and the Lee Smith Award, as well as three honorary doctorates. His most recent novel, Southernmost, was also longlisted for the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. Originally from Laurel County, House lives in Lexington with his husband, the writer Jason Howard, and serves as the NEH Chair in Appalachian Studies at Berea College. Photo: Berea College

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Aug. 28-Sept. 7
Nickole Brown, Dixie Highway

Originally from Louisville, Nickole Brown is the author of two collections of poetry, Sister and Fanny Says, which received the Weatherford Award in Appalachian Literature and Best Book selections from the San Francisco Chronicle and Library Journal. Her most recent title is a chapbook, To Those Who Were Our First Gods. Before publishing, she served Sarabande Books with distinction and worked as editorial assistant to the late Hunter S. Thompson. Currently, she is the Editor for the Marie Alexander Poetry Series and teaches periodically at a number of places, including the Sewanee School of Letters MFA Program, the Great Smokies Writing Program at UNCA, and the Hindman Settlement School. Brown and her wife, the poet Jessica Jacobs, make their home in Asheville, North Carolina, where Brown periodically volunteers at four animal sanctuaries. Photo: Joli Livaudais

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Sept. 11-21
Pam Papka Sexton, The End of the River

Poet and artist Pam Sexton of Lexington was passionate about art created by Kentuckians, whether music, literature or craft, and was an ardent advocate for education. She served on the boards of several arts organizations. Her daughter, Ouita Michel, shares her love for Kentucky art and poetry.


Sept. 25-Oct. 5
Ada Limón, The Carrying

Ada Limón is the author of five books of poetry, most recently The Carrying, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry and was named one of the top five poetry books of the year by the Washington Post. Her fourth book, Bright Dead Things, was named a finalist for the National Book Award, a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She serves on the faculty of Queens University of Charlotte Low Residency M.F.A. program, and the online and summer programs for the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Originally from Sonoma, California, Limón now makes her home in Lexington, with her husband, journalist and business owner Lucas Marquardt. Photo: Lucas Marquardt