Ken Conklin, a native of Los Angeles, has lived in Botetourt County, Virginia, for the past eighteen years. He was awarded a 2022 Kegley Preservation Award for his book NORVEL: An American Hero about Botetourt County native Norvel Lee. Ken is also the author of The Zen of Ken, a collection of his poems. His essays have been published in the Roanoke Times and other publications such as the Victoria Advocate, Easy Reader, and Microwave Journal.  His career in the technology industry gave him the opportunity to travel throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. The experiences from those travels inform his writing.  He is a member of the Authors Guild, Alliance of Independent Authors, and the Poetry Society of Virginia.  Ken enjoys golf, hiking the beautiful trails of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, and attending local live music events.  He continues, however, to root for the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

NORVEL: An American Hero tells the incredible story of Norvel Lee, a man whose unwavering determination and courage allowed him to overcome obstacles and achieve greatness. Born in a time of racial discrimination. Norvel faced numerous challenges early in life. However, he refused to be defeated and used his intelligence and athletic abilities to propel himself towards success. As he grew into a young man, Norvel continued to face adversity but his commitment to his community, country, and family never waivered. His unprecedented achievements in business, sports, and military service makes him a true representation of the American dream. This inspiring and uplifting story of perseverance is a must-read for anyone in need of motivation and a reminder of the power of the human spirit.

The collection of poems in The Zen of Ken spans the poetic career of Ken Conklin, beginning in the late 1960s and continuing to the present day. The poems are organized into sections reflecting different periods of the author’s life: “The Dark Ages,” “The Middle Ages,” “Haiku Interludes,” and “The Age of Enlightenment.”

The early poems in “The Dark Ages” section have a somber, melancholy tone, touching on themes of war, loss, and alienation. As the collection progresses, the poems become more optimistic and celebratory, culminating in “The Age of Enlightenment” section which features love poems and poems appreciating nature and the passage of time.