Ron Whitehead is an American poet, author and activist. Whitehead was born on a farm in Kentucky, but traveled to the University of Louisville and Oxford University to pursue his academic interests.
Ron Whitehead has been involved in many aspects of the artistic field; writing poetry, editing literary works, organizing a non-profit organization to support literature worldwide called the Global Literary Renaissance, teaching and lecturing to students, and collaborating with artists and musicians, focusing primarily on the Louisville art scene and Kentucky folk art. Whitehead was also the honorary poetry editor of GonzoToday.com.
Whitehead has authored thirty titles which include: Western Kentucky: Lost & Forgotten, Found & Remembered (with Sarah Elizabeth Burkey), The Third Testament: Three Gospels of Peace (with art by Lawrence Ferlinghetti & David Minton), Beaver Dam Rocking Chair Marathon, The Wanderer, and most recently, The Storm Generation Manifesto & on parting, the wilderness poems. In 2016 Finishing Line press released his work, Kentucky Basketball is Poetry in Motion, a collection of poems about the history and culture of Kentucky basketball. The Ron Whitehead poetry collection is currently managed by the University of Louisville. A special exhibit of works produced by Whitehead, "Poets, Rock Stars, and Holy Men" was featured at the main branch of the Louisville Free Public Library in 2018 and Whitehead was honored at that event for his work in the arts by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer.
Whitehead has also released forty CDs which include: "Tapping My Own Phone", "Kentucky Roots", "Kentucky: poems, stories, songs", "Kentucky Blues", "I Will Not Bow Down", "Exterminate Noise", "From Iceland to Kentucky & Beyond", "Swan Boats @ Four", "The Shape of Water", "The Viking Hillbilly Apocalypse Revue", "Walking Home", "I Refuse", "Ron Whitehead and Southside's Southside Lounge", "Ron Whitehead and Southside's We Are The Storm", and "The Storm Generation Manifesto & on parting, the wilderness poems". Whitehead's book, titled The Storm Generation Manifesto and on parting, the wilderness poems, was released in July 2010 and includes a CD of his readings as well as his first DVD.
Whitehead has been honored for his work as a writer and his involvement in the literary community. Some of his accolades include The All Kentucky Poetry Prize, The Yeats Club of Oxford's Prize for Poetry, a nomination for the Pulitzer Prize twice, and a nomination for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Whitehead's work has been featured prominently on the international scene. In 2002 his poem "Never Give Up" was the featured theme for the United Nations affiliated program called "Poetry on the Peaks." This poem has been featured in other venues including National Geographic magazine and a book written by the 14th Dalai Lama. In 2009 Ron was one of the one hundred and thirty featured poets representing fifty countries at the International Poetry Festival, which took place in Granada, Nicaragua. Whitehead's work has been published in other venues as well, including Northwestern's TriQuarterly magazine, England's Beat Scene, and Japan's Blue Beat Jacket. Whitehead's work is also featured in Delinda Buie's archive at the University of Louisville Library.
Whitehead has also been involved in production of musical and poetry events worldwide. Some of these events include days long music and poetry readings called "Insomniac-a-thons", benefit concerts, and International and National Poetry Festivals in locations such as London, New York City, and the Netherlands. Whitehead's most notable production was the Official Hunter S. Thompson Tribute, which featured individuals such as Johnny Depp, David Amram, and Roxanne Pulitzer. and he has participated in a yearly "Gonzofest" in Thompson's hometown of Louisville, Kentucky honoring Thompson.
He has collaborated with many musicians as well, doing readings of his work with other artists. Whitehead has worked with musical artists ranging from Icelandic musicians Sigur Rós and Utangarðsmenn, to Jim James of My Morning Jacket and Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth. One of his most recent collaborations was with heavy psychedelic rock group Blaak Heat, on their EP The Storm Generation and following album The Edge of an Era.
Whitehead has also continued to be involved in the academic world through working as an editor and a professor. He has edited thousand of works by authors such as Jimmy Carter, Jack Kerouac, Andy Warhol, Allen Ginsberg, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Whitehead has also taught at various institutions of higher education including the University of Louisville, New York University, Trinity College Dublin, and the University of Iceland.