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Celebrate accomplishments of state’s writers

South Carolina Academy of Authors to induct four writers. This column originally appeared in The Greenville News.

Jill HendrixAs the owner of local independent bookstore Fiction Addiction, I have the pleasure of meeting South Carolina authors on nearly a weekly basis and I’m deeply impressed by the depth of literary talent that our state is home to. It was a natural fit when I joined the board of the South Carolina Academy of Authors last year, since the Academy’s principal purpose is to identify and recognize our state’s distinguished writers. This April, the Academy will be holding its first-ever awards ceremony in Greenville and three of the four writers we are inducting into the state’s literary hall of fame have ties to the Upstate. I invite everyone who supports the literary arts — from readers, to writers, to teachers — to join us the weekend of April 25-26 to celebrate the accomplishments of Gilbert Allen, Janette Turner Hospital, John Lane and Robert Quillen. Gilbert Allen is a prize-winning poet, a tenured professor of literature at Furman University, and the editor of Ninety-Six Press, which has published distinguished S.C. poets since 1991. Janette Turner Hospital’s award-winning body of work — nine novels and four short-story collections to date — shows her belief in resilience and redemption; though born in Australia, she has come to call South Carolina home and serves as Professor Emerita at USC. John Lane is a poet, essayist and author who is now taking on the challenge of developing the environmental studies major at Wofford College. Robert Quillen, deceased, was an American journalist and humorist who founded the Fountain Inn Tribune and at the height of his career syndicated his stories to over 400 publications across the world. The induction festivities kick off on Friday, April 25, at noon with a luncheon featuring Janette Turner Hospital, then continue on Friday with a tour of Robert Quillen’s office in Fountain Inn and a reading at the S.C. Governor’s School for the Arts by past inductees Terrance Hayes, Josephine Humphreys and George Singleton. On Saturday, John Lane will give a reading from his new book, “The Web of Water: Reflections of Life Along the Saluda and Reedy Rivers” at Furman’s Shi Center (co-sponsored by Upstate Forever) then lead a walk on the Swamp Rabbit Trail. Gil Allen will read at the Hughes downtown library Saturday afternoon, then the weekend concludes with the awards banquet at Furman’s Younts Center at 6 p.m. The detailed schedule of events is online at http://scacademyofauthors.org. The opening and closing events are ticketed (tickets are still available), but the others are completely free. If you can’t attend this year’s events, I challenge you to view the academy’s list of past inductees then stop by the library or a local bookstore and take a moment to marvel at the number of S.C. authors on the shelves and perhaps even try the work of one previously unknown to you. The South Carolina Academy of Authors is a nonprofit organization funded in part by the SC Arts Commission and reliant on our university and community sponsors. We thank you all for your support! Jill Hendrix is the owner of Fiction Addiction. She grew up in Greenville, was the 1991 valedictorian of Southside High School and one of its first International Baccalaureate diploma recipients, and graduated from Yale University. Write to her at jill@fiction-addition.com.

by Jill Hendrix

Watercolor artist Mary Whyte’s new book celebrates Gullah culture

Watercolor artist Mary Whyte's new publication, "Down Bohicket Road," is inspired by the Gullah culture of Coastal South Carolina. The book includes two decades of watercolors depicting a group of Gullah women of Johns Island, S.C., and their stories. In the early 1990s, in a remote corner of the South, Whyte first met Alfreda LaBoard and her devoted group of seniors who gathered weekly to make quilts, study the Bible and socialize in a small rural church on Bohicket Road. Descendants of Lowcountry slaves, these longtime island residents influenced Whyte's life and art in astonishing and unexpected ways. Mary Whyte Whyte soon began a series of watercolors depicting these women, honoring their lives and their dedication to family and faith. "Alfreda's World," a collection of Whyte's detailed watercolors and poignant recollections of the women at the senior center, was published a decade later, drawing attention and support from the community to the small church on Bohicket Road. "Down Bohicket Road" continues the story of Whyte's relationship with these extraordinary women, following the passing of Alfreda, against the backdrop of the ongoing commercial development of Johns Island. For Whyte, the heart of this community remains in the simple homes clustered along Bohicket Road, in the island's winding tidal creeks, and in a small church where 18 hardscrabble women gather in fellowship each week. In her book, Whyte illustrates that both watercolors and friendships can be the unpredictable results of an abundance of blessings. As shared through touching words and vibrant paintings, "Down Bohicket Road" celebrates a unique way of coastal life and a remarkable friendship that transcends all barriers—even death itself—in praise of the unifying power of art. "Down Bohicket Road" is available through the University of South Carolina Press. All royalties from book sales benefit the Hebron Saint Francis Senior Center on Johns Island. Book Signing Schedule Some events require ticket purchases and advance registration. Contact the venue for more details. December 4 Talk and Book Signing 5:30 p.m. The Florence Library, Florence (843) 413-7064 or (843) 413-7065 December 6 Talk and Book Signing Noon until 1 p.m. Center for the Book S.C. State Library, Columbia (803) 734-8666 December 6 Book Signing 5:30 - 7 p.m. Books on Broad, Camden (803) 713-7323 December 7 Talk and Book Signing 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. Coastal Discovery Museum, Hilton Head (843) 689-6767 December 11 Luncheon and Book Signing Noon Blue Bicycle Books, Charleston (843) 722-2666 December 14 Luncheon and Book Signing 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. Litchfield Books, Pawleys Island (843) 237-8138 December 14 Cocktails and Book Signing 6 - 8 p.m. Coleman Fine Art, Charleston (843) 853-7000 December 18 Luncheon and Book Signing Noon - 2 p.m. The Lazy Goat, Greenville Sponsored by Fiction Addiction (864) 675-0540 About Mary Whyte Watercolor artist Mary Whyte is a teacher and author whose figurative paintings have earned national recognition. A resident of Johns Island, S.C., Whyte garners much of her inspiration from the Gullah descendents of coastal Carolina slaves who number among her most prominent subjects. Her portraits are included in numerous corporate, private and university collections, as well as in the permanent collections of South Carolina’s Greenville County Museum of Art and the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston. Her paintings have been featured in numerous publications, including International Artist, Artist, American Artist, Watercolor and American Art Collector. Her work can be found at Coleman Fine Art in Charleston. Via: Mary Whyte and USC Press