LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) — Author and artist Ronald Davis spends a lot of time at his computer, designing graphic images. His work has been seen in several galleries and on book covers under his pseudonym, “upfromsumdirt.”

Several months ago, he got the biggest assignment of his life when he was asked to come up with 26 images, one for each letter of the alphabet.

“I’m like ‘OK, I could probably get it done,’ but I sketched around for four or five months,” Davis said, noting he didn’t really get serious until the deadline was near. “I work best under pressure.”

The illustrations are for the soon-to-be-released children’s book, “A is For Affrilachia,” a poem by former Kentucky poet laureate Frank X. Walker.

Walker said the book “forces people to redefine everything they assumed, especially all the negative stereotypes about the region.”


He calls the region “Affrilachia” — parts of 13 states stretching from New York to Mississippi.

“To me it simply means it’s more diverse that television has presented it, those images that ‘Dukes and Hazard” and ‘Beverly Hillbillies’ gave us,” Walker said. He notes there’s a lot difference between Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Huntington, West Virginia, and Birmingham, Alabama.

The book mentions dozens of notable Black Americans who are part of the fabric of a region rich in culture.

Walker hopes the book is launching point for more research by the reader, who may wonder why a certain word or name is part of the poem. There’s a glossary to help.

For both men, this is the first time doing a children’s book.

“It is and I’m terrified,” Walker said, realizing children can be tough critics. But he believes young readers will be drawn to the striking illustrations and have lots of questions about the content.

Davis said, “You know, I’m still my six-year-old self, trying to have fun with life and look at things from that perspective.”


“I hope they love it because of what it says about our collective culture and history and all the stories you never knew until you opened this book,” Walker said.

He said it’s not just a children’s book, because so much of the material will be new to anyone. “It’s not things we were ever taught in school.”

Both he and Davis believe people of any age can still learn a lot by revisiting the A-B-Cs.