2023 S.C. Arts Awards: Ray McManus

Governor’s Award: Artist Category

Graphic with white copy on a dark blue background overlaid on granite blocks. The white text reads South Carolina Arts Awards 2023.

As the day nears for the 2023 South Carolina Arts Awards, The Hub is focusing on this year’s recipients: five receiving the South Carolina Governor’s Awards for the Arts from the South Carolina Arts Commission and two receiving the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, managed jointly by the SCAC and McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina.

Born and raised in Lexington County, Ray McManus is frequently active in poetry initiatives across the state.

He serves as the writer-in-residence at the Columbia Museum of Art. McManus founded Split P Soup, a creative writing outreach program that places writers in schools and communities across South Carolina, and former director of the creative writing program at the Tri-District Arts Consortium that serves Columbia area schools. He coedited a collection of writing responding to historical photographs from South Carolina archives.

He writes of the Carolinas’ semi-rural and sometimes repressive culture, often including the haunting presence of the imagined Ireland that exists in family stories and immigrant memory. His work explores themes of loss, faith, denial, and rebellion, offering both a narrative of hope and a heroics of failure. His poems and prose have appeared in numerous journals, including Poetry, Prairie Schooner, and StorySouth, as well as anthologies of Southern and Irish-American writers.

McManus earned his master’s in poetry and his doctorate in rhetoric and composition from the University of South Carolina. Now an English professor at USC Sumter, he teaches creative writing, Irish literature, and Southern literature. He is division chair of both arts and letters and humanities and social sciences and director of the school’s Center for Oral Narrative.

McManus is the author of five collections of poetry. His first was selected for the S.C. Poetry Book Prize and published in 2007. Since, he published three more collections and a fifth, Last Saturday in America, will be published by Hub City Press in 2024.

The South Carolina Arts Awards are coming live to SCETV on Sunday, May 14, 2023 at 8 p.m. ET.

South Carolina ETV, the state’s public educational broadcasting network, will broadcast the awards ceremony through its 11-station TV network that spans the state. Viewers can access the broadcast via livestream on the homepage of SCETV.org; by using a digital antenna; or through cable, satellite, and streaming live TV providers. Further information about accessing SCETV is available here.