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Jason Rapp

Charleston Scene takes on ‘sea change’ in CHS, S.C. arts leadership

Thought-provoking piece on future of S.C. arts


In a sweeping new story, Charleston Scene interviewed several arts leaders who recently—or will—depart their posts as change comes to South Carolina's arts scene.

Picture of an iconic church steeple in downtown CharlestonWriter Maura Hogan asks, "What will the next phase look like?" after several high profile departures dating back to 2019. Among them:
  • Kathleen (Kathi) P. Bateson (Arts Center of Coastal Carolina)
  • Stephen Bedard (Gaillard Management Co.)
  • Ken May (S.C. Arts Commission)
  • Valerie Morris (College of Charleston School of the Arts)
  • Nigel Redden (Spoleto Festival USA)
  • Mark Sloan (College of Charleston Halsey Institute)
  • Marjory Wentworth (former state poet laureate)
While reasons for the departures varied, nearly all involved foresee major change on the horizon in Charleston and the state, whether as a result of the pandemic, recent emphasis on diversity and inclusion, or other things. Click here to read the story from Charleston Scene (subscription possibly required).
Charleston photo by Jason Rapp/SCAC.

Jason Rapp

SCAC to honor 7 with Governor’s Awards for the Arts

Four artists, one advocate, two organizations


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Today, the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) is announcing seven qualified recipients of South Carolina’s highest award for high achievement in practicing or supporting the arts.

The South Carolina Governor’s Awards for the Arts are presented annually by the SCAC. The appointed members of the agency’s board of directors vote on panel recommendations for the award. For 2021, the following honorees from their respective categories are being recognized for outstanding achievement and contributions to the arts in South Carolina:
  • LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT: Tom Flowers, Greenville (posthumous)
  • ARTIST: Charlton Singleton, Charleston
  • INDIVIDUAL: Jennifer Clark Evins, Spartanburg
  • ARTS IN EDUCATION: Tayloe Harding, Columbia
  • BUSINESS: Colonial Life, Columbia
  • ORGANIZATION: ColaJazz Foundation, Columbia
  • SPECIAL AWARD: Marjory Wentworth, Mount Pleasant
“With the Governor’s Award, we celebrate achievement and thank these accomplished recipients for enriching life and culture here in South Carolina. Recipients always represent the best of South Carolina. They are talented, successful, and dedicated. They exemplify giving of themselves to ensure everyone who wants to can benefit from access to the arts,” S.C. Arts Commission Chairwoman Dee Crawford said. A diverse committee, appointed by the S.C. Arts Commission Board of Directors and drawn from members community statewide, reviews all nominations. After a rigorous process and multiple meetings, the panel produces a recommendation from each category that is sent to the board for final approval. Serving on the panel for the 2021 awards were Flavia Harton (Greenville), Glenis Redmond (Mauldin), Bob Reeder (Columbia), Bhavna Vasudeva (Columbia), and Kim Wilson (Rock Hill). The South Carolina Governor’s Awards for the Arts and Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Awards are presented to recipients at the South Carolina Arts Awards ceremony, normally held in person every spring. The pandemic forced the shift of last year’s ceremony to a virtual format in July rather than May. Reaction to that was positive and it is planned once again for 2021, but instead of being held in the summer it will revert to its normal timeframe in the spring. The SCAC and its partner for the Folk Heritage Awards, McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina, will announce a date and time later.

About the 2021 S.C. Governor’s Awards for the Arts Recipients

Washington, D.C. native TOM FLOWERS (Lifetime Achievement) came to South Carolina for football at Furman University and left with a bachelor’s in art. After earning a Master of Fine Arts at the University of Iowa and serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, his teaching career wound its way from Kansas and North Carolina back to Furman. He spent the next 30 years teaching arts at the school, from 1959 to 1989, and was chairman of the art department for most of his tenure. Upon completion he was named to the school’s emeritus faculty. Decorated and widely exhibited as an artist, Flowers’ works have homes in museums and collections throughout the Southeast, including the South Carolina State Art Collection. He served on several Upstate arts boards and commissions and as a state representative on the American Craft Council. Thomas Earl Flowers passed away Dec. 13, 2020 after his nomination was made in the Governor’s Award artist category. He is survived by multiple practicing artists in his family, further adding to his legacy. Over the past several years, CHARLTON SINGLETON (Artist Category) has emerged as the face of jazz performance in the Lowcountry. Because of his membership in the band Ranky Tanky, a quintet that interprets the sounds of Gullah culture, he can also be called a Grammy Award winner. Singleton studied organ, violin, cello, and trumpet throughout childhood and adolescence and earned a music performance degree from South Carolina State University. Since, he’s taught music at every level from elementary school through college. In addition to Ranky Tanky, he is previous artistic director of the Charleston Jazz Orchestra, has his own touring ensemble, is organist and choir director of St. Patrick Catholic Church in Charleston and was named inaugural artist-in-residence at the renovated Gaillard Center in Charleston. He is in demand as a speaker, composer, and arranger. As president and CEO, JENNIFER CLARK EVINS (Individual Category) leads the day-to-day operations and management of Chapman Cultural Center (CCC), Spartanburg city and county’s local arts agency. Along with her county-wide arts coordination, she has nearly 26 years as a visionary community and statewide arts leader to her credit. As a volunteer, Evins led the 10-year project and capital campaign that raised $42 million that built CCC, led another successful campaign to add Mayfair Art Studios to CCC, and led the charge to get Downtown Spartanburg named a South Carolina Cultural District. Evins was the author and director for the winning $1 million Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge. Her Culture Counts program, which started as a local asset inventory and mapping project, is now used as a South Carolina cultural tourism tool through Ten at the Top. A winner of numerous awards for service and leadership, she serves or served on prominent Upstate boards. Evins is a strong advocate for local artists, arts organizations, and arts education, and is an active board member of the South Carolina Arts Alliance. TAYLOE HARDING (Arts in Education Category) has a belief in the power of music and the arts to transform communities and individuals that is evident in his work with local and state arts education and advocacy organizations. The dean of the University of South Carolina School of Music has participated in and led efforts as diverse as 12 years on the Arts in Basic Curriculum Project steering committee, consulting on the city of Columbia’s cultural plan and for its One Columbia for Arts & Culture office, frequent advocacy work on behalf of the South Carolina Arts Alliance, and on grant panels for the defunct Cultural Council of Richland/Lexington Counties. Harding has national exposure as past president of the College Music Society and past secretary of the National Association for Schools of Music. He remains active as a composer, earning commissions, performances, and recordings worldwide. COLONIAL LIFE (Business/Foundation Category) is a Columbia-based market leader of financial protection benefits offered through the workplace. For more than 80 years the company has demonstrated a commitment to the community through corporate giving, the employee matching gift programs and volunteerism. The company also has made significant investments each year to support educational, health, wellbeing, arts and culture state programs. Colonial Life’s mission to help America’s workers face unexpected events and challenging times makes it the extraordinary company it is today. Since its 2014 founding, COLAJAZZ FOUNDATION (Organization Category) has worked tirelessly to establish Columbia as a premier jazz destination by highlighting the accomplished jazz artists and educators active in and around the city. Successful and vibrant programming includes bringing international jazz stars, including NEA Jazz Masters and Grammy Award winners, to Columbia. Its annual season includes the ColaJazz Summer Camp; ColaJazz Fest; Great Day in Columbia; Live in the Lobby (Koger Center for the Arts) series; monthly Dinner & Jazz concerts; Jazz Appreciation Month; ColaJazz Crawl; live and virtual concerts, workshops, after-school curriculum for International Jazz Day; and Jazz for Young People concerts that bring people from across the state and beyond to enjoy the capital city. The erstwhile poet laureate of South Carolina, MARJORY WENTWORTH (Special Award) is its second-longest serving. She received her appointment to the position from Gov. Mark Sanford in 2003 and served until 2020. Wentworth is New York Times bestselling co-author of Out of Wonder, Poems Celebrating Poets and author of prize-winning children’s story Shackles. Her lengthy list of published titles includes several of her own poetry books, additional co-authored titles, and she is co-editor, with Kwame Dawes, of Seeking: Poetry and Prose Inspired by the Art of Jonathan Green. Wentworth serves on the board of advisors at The Global Social Justice Practice Academy, and she is a 2020 National Coalition Against Censorship Free Speech is for Me Advocate. She teaches courses in writing, social justice and banned books at the College of Charleston and formerly taught courses at The Citadel and Art Institute of Charleston and Charleston County School of the Arts.

Correction

On Feb. 17, this copy was corrected to reflect that Charlton Singleton is a former artistic director of the Charleston Jazz Orchestra. The original copy stated he is the current artistic director and conductor.

About the South Carolina Arts Commission

The mission of the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) is to promote equitable access to the arts and support the cultivation of creativity in South Carolina. We envision a South Carolina where the arts are valued and all people benefit from a variety of creative experiences. A state agency created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the SCAC works to increase public participation in the arts by providing grants, direct programs, staff assistance and partnerships in three key areas: arts education, community arts development, and artist development. Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the SCAC is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts, and other sources. Visit SouthCarolinaArts.com or call 803.734.8696, and follow @scartscomm on social media.

Jason Rapp

Be S.C.’s next poet laureate

Applications open for honorary position

APPLICATION DEADLINE: Friday, March 19, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. ET

The South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) is accepting applications through Friday, March 19, 2020 to assist Gov. Henry McMaster in appointing the state’s next poet laureate.

Applications opened Monday, Feb. 8 on the SCAC website. To be eligible for the honorary position, applicants must be 18 or more years old, U.S. citizens, and residents of South Carolina for at least a year among other requirements. Anyone who wishes to be considered must apply by the deadline. “South Carolina has a long, storied history of gifted poets and writers,” said Gov. Henry McMaster. “I have no doubt the next poet laureate will continue this tradition of excellence and will serve as an inspiration to our next generation of artists. I look forward to reviewing the candidates and making my selection.” “The South Carolina Arts Commission is both pleased and honored to be a part of naming the state’s next poet laureate,” said David T. Platts, SCAC executive director. “Words are powerful, with the ability to tear down walls and to build bridges.  The poet laureate’s role as artistic and cultural ambassador, representing both the voice and even the conscience of the state, provides a unique opportunity and platform to inspire and unite all South Carolinians.” In FY2018, legislation passed by the General Assembly directed the SCAC to recommend poet laureate candidates to the governor. After a panel reviews the applications submitted to the SCAC, it will make recommendations from among those to the governor for consideration. He will then “name and appoint an outstanding and distinguished person of letters as poet laureate for the state of South Carolina” who will serve a four-year term. The named poet laureate will be eligible for one re-appointment. That person will be the sixth poet laureate since the first was named in 1934. The most recent was Marjory Wentworth of Mount Pleasant, who was appointed by Gov. Mark Sanford in 2003 until she stepped down this past December. Poetry is enjoying the spotlight after National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman captured the country’s attention with her high-profile appearances at the inauguration of President Joe Biden last month and the Super Bowl just days ago. She infused those moments with powerful commentary on society and culture using the power of poetry. “Artistically speaking, there is an immediacy to poetry that can offer insight, hope, and encouragement,” SCAC Program Director for Artist Services Ce Scott-Fitts said.
About the South Carolina Arts Commission The mission of the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) is to promote equitable access to the arts and support the cultivation of creativity in South Carolina. We envision a South Carolina where the arts are valued and all people benefit from a variety of creative experiences. A state agency created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the SCAC works to increase public participation in the arts by providing grants, direct programs, staff assistance and partnerships in three key areas: arts education, community arts development, and artist development. Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the SCAC is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts, and other sources. Visit SouthCarolinaArts.com or call 803.734.8696, and follow @scartscomm on social media.

Jason Rapp

Platts issues SCAC statement on Marjory Wentworth

 

Official Statement from the S.C. Arts Commission


Earlier today, on Facebook, South Carolina poet laureate Marjory Wentworth announced she is resigning from the post. She provided no further details in that medium, and the South Carolina Arts Commission is not aware of any. [caption id="attachment_26773" align="alignright" width="200"]Marjory Wentworth Marjory Wentworth, the former poet laureate of South Carolina. Photo by Andy Allen.[/caption] As she is a notable figure on the state's arts and culture scene, South Carolina Arts Commission Executive Director David Platts issued the following statement:

"On behalf of all of us at the South Carolina Arts Commission, I wish Marjory well and thank her for the many contributions she has made while serving as our state’s poet laureate.

Throughout much of history, poets have played a significant role in examining and addressing important issues of the day through the lens of their art. The stature of the poet laureate’s position allows all of us to see and recognize that the arts do not merely exist for their own sake. Rather, they can provoke thought, self-reflection, and meaningful dialogue across a wide range of opinions and perspectives, and they can unify by appealing to our better instincts.

In all times, but most especially in uncertain times like we are currently experiencing, artists like Marjory Wentworth exemplify and demonstrate the relevance and the importance of the arts to our daily lives.”


About the South Carolina Arts Commission

With a commitment to excellence across the spectrum of our state’s cultures and forms of expression, the South Carolina Arts Commission pursues its public charge to develop a thriving arts environment, which is essential to quality of life, education, and economic vitality for all South Carolinians. Created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the Arts Commission works to increase public participation in the arts by providing grants, direct programs, staff assistance and partnerships in three key areas:
  • arts education,
  • community arts development,
  • and artist development.
Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the Arts Commission is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts and other sources. For more information, visit SouthCarolinaArts.com or call 803.734.8696.

Who’s-who of female #SCartists headline new project

Home-grown historic women to be honored by home-grown talent

[caption id="attachment_40815" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Eartha Kitt placesetting by Mana Hewitt Eartha Kitt placesetting by Mana Hewitt for The Supper Table.[/caption]
The Jasper Project announced its most ambitious multidisciplinary arts project to date – The Supper Table – enlisting the talents of more than 50 of South Carolina’s most outstanding women artists from the fields of visual, literary, theatrical arts, and film. An homage to Judy Chicago’s iconic feminist art installation, The Dinner Party, and using Chicago’s project as a loose model, Jasper Project Executive Director Cindi Boiter conceived of The Supper Table as an innovative way of honoring some of South Carolina's largely un-celebrated, yet groundbreaking women in history. After consulting with experts like Marjorie Spruill, professor emeritus in women’s history at the University of South Carolina, Boiter selected 12 historic South Carolina women who, via their work in the arts, medicine, law, business, athletics, entertainment, and more, changed the course of human history. Using the model created by Chicago, Boiter commissioned Richland Library Maker Coordinator Jordan Morris to create a 12’ x 12’ x 12’ wooden table at which visual artists would create place-settings inspired by and honoring the historic women. In addition to the 12 visual artists, a dozen artists each from the literary, theatrical arts, and film were also invited to participate. The result is a multidisciplinary arts installation and performance which will premiere in September along with the release of:
  • a book Setting The Supper Table,
  • the premiere of a series of 12 looped 90-second films,
  • a staged oration by 12 women actors based on essays written by 12 literary artists,
  • and, of course, the installation of the table itself, complete with 12 place-settings.
Funded in part by a Connected Communities grant from Central Carolina Community Foundation, The Supper Table premiere begins Friday, Sept. 6 at Trustus Theatre with a celebration, performance, and panel presentation before moving Sunday, Sept. 8 to Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College for another premiere celebration and the installation of The Supper Table, complete with films and a collection of 12 original portraits of the honored women created by Artfields People’s Choice winner Kirkland Smith. After, it will travel to other venues in the state throughout 2020. In addition to the hand-crafted table with artisanal place-settings, the books, looped films, and portraits, the installation will also include three walls comprised of 120 hand-embossed tiles, each celebrating an additional history-making woman from South Carolina, some living and some deceased, called an "Array of Remarkable SC Women." These tiles were hand-painted this past spring by women and girls from the state's Midlands region. The women honored at The Supper Table range from indigo entrepreneur Eliza Lucas Pinckney to college founders Mary McLeod Bethune and Elizabeth Evelyn Wright to ground-breaking law professor Sarah Leverette, who died last August. The honored subjects also include Alice Childress, Septima Clark, Matilda Evans, Althea Gibson, Angeline and Sarah Grimke, Eartha Kitt, Julia Peterkin, and Modjeska Monteith Simkins. Eight of the 12 place-settings are devoted to women of color. Visual artists involved include Michaela Pilar Brown, Mana Hewitt, Eileen Blyth, Laurie Brownell McIntosh, Olga Yukhno, Flavia Lovatelli, Bohumila Augustinova, Lori Isom, Renee Roullier, Tonya Gregg, B. A. Hohman, and Heidi Darr-Hope. Jordan Morris created the actual table and Kathryn Van Aernum is the official photographer. The city of Columbia’s Brenda Oliver assisted with tiles along with Diane Hare. Literary artists include South Carolina Poet Laureate Marjory Wentworth, Eva Moore, Claudia Smith Brinson, Carla Damron, Candace Wiley, Christina Xan, Qiana Whitted, Meeghan Kane, Kristine Hartvigsen, and Jennifer Bartell. Boiter is also writing an introductory essay for the book. Film artists include Emmy award-winning filmmaker Betsy Newman, Laura Kissel, Roni Nicole, Faye Riley, Katly Hong, Ebony Wilson, Jordan Mullen, Steffi Brink, Carleen Maur, Lee Ann Kornegay, Lillian Burke, and Tamara Finkbeiner with Josetra Robinson. Kornegay is also creating The Making of the Supper Table, a full-length film that will premiere in spring 2020. Indie Grits Lab’s Mahkia Greene is overseeing the filmmakers. Vicky Saye Henderson is overseeing the casting and directing of the theatrical artists.
For more information about The Supper Table,visit its Kickstarter campaign at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thejasperproject/the-supper-table.

U.S. poet laureate, Air Force ‘Rhythm in Blue’ Band in Sumter this weekend

This weekend in Sumter, the Sumter County Cultural Commission and Arthenia Millican Literary Foundation partner to present a new two-day multicultural arts event featuring performances, speakers, an art exhibit, and vendors. "Love. Respect. Unity. Festival" (LRU) is seeking to unite diverse people groups through the arts at Sumter's Patriot Hall March 10-11. Event host Cynthia Hardy from "On Point with Cynthia Hardy" will welcome U.S. Poet Laureate Marjory Wentworth and Hate Won't Win founder Alanna Simmons as speakers. The headlining performer is the U.S. Air Force Rhythm in Blue Band – a nod to Shaw Air Force Base, which calls Sumter home. “We often get into a routine of existing day to day in silos, without meaningfully engaging with people who are different. We have the rare opportunity to unite people around the Sumter area’s rich culture and the diversity of the arts," Sumter County Cultural Center Executive Director Melanie Colclough said. Other performers are scheduled to appear include a combined ‘unity’ choir consisting of choirs from Morris College, First Baptist Church, and Lakewood High and the Sumter County Civic Chorale; a performance by Charleston’s first poet laureate Marcus Amaker; an art exhibit; and performances by a host of Sumter-area and S.C. talent. The AJBM Foundation was established in 2008 to preserve the legacy and literary works of Dr. Arthenia Jackson Bates Millican and to give back. Dr. Millican (1920-2012) was an internationally known poet, educator, novelist and humanist of rural beginnings who called Sumter home. A focal point of the foundation’s contributions is to promote literary and cultural arts locally, nationally and globally. “Many of the performances are inspired by the works of civil rights icon C. T. Vivian and feature themes of togetherness, cooperation, and unity," Millican Foundation Executive Director Richard (Rick) Jones said. “What I’m most excited and passionate about is the impact the festival and ongoing LRU programming will have [on] bringing our diverse and multicultural community together through the arts." Festival admission is free. Hours are as follows:

  • Saturday: vendors from 1:30-3:30 p.m.; program from 3:30-5:30 p.m.
  • Sunday: program from 3:30-5:30 p.m.
More information is available here: https://www.patriothallsc.org/lru.html  

Seeking solace in poetry after a mass shooting

From PBS Newshour Article by Mary Jo Brooks

[caption id="attachment_26772" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Marcus Amaker Marcus Amaker is a poet, graphic artist, web designer and musician. Photo by Jonathan Boncek.[/caption] The shooting by a white supremacist at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church in June 2015 was a wakeup call for poet Marcus Amaker. The gunman killed Rev. Clementa Pickney and eight parishioners during a Bible study in the basement. “I think that for a long time a lot of people my age thought racism was not really this tangible thing. But then when this happened at the church, it really became the most real thing that we’ve ever experienced,” said Amaker. Marjory Wentworth, also a poet, said she fell to the ground and sobbed when she heard of the tragedy. “I don’t think anyone is ever going to get over it here,” she said. “It’s part of our history now.” At first glance, the two couldn’t seem more different. Wentworth is a high-energy, middle-aged white woman, who lived in Massachusetts and New York before moving to South Carolina 27 years ago. [caption id="attachment_26773" align="aligncenter" width="452"]Marjory Wentworth Marjory Wentworth is the Poet Laureate of South Carolina. Photo by Andy Allen.[/caption] Amaker is a young African-American graphic artist and web designer with long braids, a broad smile and easy going manner. He grew up an Air Force kid, living all over the world before coming to Charleston in 2003. The two met more than 10 years ago at a poetry reading in the city. Now, Wentworth says, Amaker is one of her closest friends. “We talk several times a week. He designed my website and we often perform together.” They even collaborated on a poem, after incoming Mayor John Tecklenburg commissioned one for his inauguration last January. The result was “Re-imagining History” which tells of Charleston’s complicated history of slavery and race relations. The final stanza recalls the tragedy of the shooting. This year, we’ve done laps around despair; and we’ve grown tired of running in circles so we stepped off the track and began to walk. As the earth shifted beneath our feet, we moved forward together. Our hearts unhinged, guide us toward a city remade by love, into a future that our past could never have imagined, beginning today. Both poets were immediately contacted by local media to write poems in response to the shooting. Wentworth had just two days to compose the poem “Holy City” — the nickname for this community with over 400 churches. “I wanted the poem to feel like a prayer. I wanted it to be something that everybody could read and relate to somehow,” Wentworth said. The poem was published on a full page in the Sunday edition of the Post and Courier. Amaker wrote his poem “Black Cloth” for the weekly City Paper. He said he wanted it to be a tribute to the nine victims, but also wanted it as a wakeup call. “For me, it feels like the time for small talk is over. If we don’t change after this, then what is going to change us?” Amaker asks. In the days and weeks that followed, poets from the community and around the country began sending poems to Wentworth and Amaker. In response, the two created a website for the poetry and eventually hope to publish a book. “In a time of crisis, poetry is a great way to find the language for something that people don’t have. People crave some way of articulating what they’re feeling. And that’s what poetry does,” says Wentworth. https://youtu.be/--hCcZN6sCM Holy City by Marjory Wentworth “Only love can conquer hate.” Reverend Clementa Pinckney Let us gather and be silent together like stones glittering in sunlight so bright it hurts our eyes emptied of tears and searching the sky for answers. Let us be strangers together as we gather in circles wherever we meet to stand hand in hand and sing hymns to the heavens and pray for the fallen and speak their names: Clementa, Cynthia, Tywanza, Ethel, Sharonda, Daniel, Myra, Susie and Depayne. They are not alone. As bells in the spires call across the wounded Charleston sky, we close our eyes and listen to the same stillness ringing in our hearts, holding onto one another like brothers, like sisters because we know wherever there is love, there is God.
https://youtu.be/QnfrzvWsJD4
Black Cloth By Marcus Amaker Racism, let us no longer walk in your shoes. you are a traveler of darkness, a walker of shadows, cloaking yourself in a black cloth like the grim reaper and arming your soul with the tools of a terrorist- a misguided soldier who’s trying to start a war. My sisters, heaven was as close as your breath that night. You came to Mother Emanuel to worship in the glow of God, and speak the light that flows from love. How beautiful of Him to hear your words and lift you into the arms of Christ My brothers, you walked toward heaven with focus, even when your shoes were stained with the dirt of intolerance. A black cloth lays silent at Clementa’s seat, resting under a single rose. It was taken from our city’s soil, where seeds of faith continue to grow. Charleston, I see heaven in your tears and feel the weight of sadness in your voice. I’ve seen strangers hold hands as the sun wraps us in unbearable heat, I’ve watched children of contradiction come together for the unity of the Holy City. South Carolina, nine members of your family are now in heaven and you have to confront the reality of racism, the dusk of pain, the lightlessness of the dawn. Because I would rather hang a black cloth on a flag pole than give the Confederate flag another glimpse of the sun. About Marjory Wentworth Marjory Wentworth is the poet laureate of South Carolina. She has taught creative writing at the Art Institute of Charleston and at Charleston County schools for nearly 25 years. Her work has been published in numerous magazines and anthologies and her books of poetry include “Noticing Eden” and “The Endless Repetition of an Ordinary Miracle.” This month she is releasing a non-fiction book called “We are Charleston.”  In it, Wentworth and co-authors Herb Frazier and Bernard Edward Powers, examine the reaction of the city following the shooting at the Emanuel AME church one year ago. About Marcus Amaker Marcus Amaker is an award-winning web designer, graphic designer, videographer, musician and author. Amaker began his career as a journalist, working for the Post and Courier newspaper.  He has released seven books of poetry. His most recent is “Mantra: an Interactive Poetry Book.”  His poems have also been featured in “Home is Where: An Anthology of African American Poetry from the Carolinas,” “Seeking: Poetry and Prose Inspired by the Art of Jonathan Green,” and “My South: A people, A Place, A World of its Own."  As a spoken word poet, he’s performed for the MOJA, Piccolo Spoleto, Spoleto and North Charleston Arts festivals.

Inaugural Deckle Edge Literary Festival to honor traditions and forge new ground

Note: One Columbia for Arts and History received a South Carolina Arts Commission Quarterly Grant to help support the Deckle Edge Literary Festival. The inaugural Deckle Edge Literary Festival, taking place Feb. 19 – 21 in Columbia, S.C., features readings, book signings, panel presentations, exhibitors, writers’ workshops, activities for children and young adult readers, and a range of other literary events for many interests and all ages. Events take place in or near downtown Columbia, and many events are free. A sample of events: Friday, Feb. 19

  • 1 - 2 p.m.: Top 20 "Outside the Box" Book Marketing Ideas, Shari Stauch, $30 per person, Historic Columbia's Woodrow Wilson Family Home
  • 2 - 3 p.m.: Plotting Strategies for Short Stories, Novels, and Plays, $30 per person, Paula Gail Benson, Historic Columbia's Woodrow Wilson Family Home
  • 7 p.m.: Opening Night Celebration - Concert and Burlesque Show, Columbia Museum of Art, $10
Saturday, Feb. 20
  • 9 - 10 a.m.: S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) Workshop for Kids, free, presented by The Watering Hole Poetry Organization, Tapp's Art Center
  • 11 a.m. - noon: Hub City Press Executive Director Betsy Teter moderates a panel of First Novel Prize winners Matt Matthews, James E. McTeer and Susan Tekulve, Columbia Museum of Art
  • 3:30 - 4:30 p.m.: Conversation with Southern Superstar Mary Alice Monroe, Columbia Museum of Art
Sunday, Feb. 21
  • 9 - 10:15 a.m.: Overcoming Creative Anxiety: 5 Steps to Jumpstart Your Writing & Remain Calm, Cassie Premo-Steele, $30 per person, location TBA
  • 1 - 2:30 p.m.: Writing and Healing with Ed Madden, $30 per person, Historic Columbia's Seibels House
  • 3 - 4 p.m.: IndieSC Launch - Calling all indie authors and aspiring writers in S.C! Presentation of free self-publishing platform by the South Carolina State Library, Columbia Museum of Art
View the full schedule online. Read a Free Times article about the festival. While Deckle Edge has its roots in the storied tradition of South Carolina’s literary life, festival organizers are committed to forging new ground and hope to appeal to regional and national audiences while remaining a community-focused effort. Festival partners make up an extensive network of South Carolina literary and cultural organizations, including Richland Library, the University of South Carolina PressHub City Writers Project, the S.C. Center for Children’s Books & LiteracyEd Madden and the Columbia Office of the Poet LaureateSouth Carolina Poet Laureate Marjory Wentworth, the Low Country Initiative for Literary ArtsJasper Magazine, Richland County schools, and others. Deckle Edge is built on the strong foundation of the South Carolina Book Festival, a project of the Humanities CouncilSC , which announced the festival’s dissolution this past summer. The Humanities CouncilSC is now actively pursuing a variety of year-round statewide literary initiatives and has been supportive of the plans for Deckle Edge as a new literary event to be hosted in Columbia. “The S.C. Book Festival was a tremendous gift to readers and writers in the South, and we’re grateful to the Humanities CouncilSC for sharing their expertise with us as we create something new,” said Deckle Edge co-chair Darien Cavanaugh. “We would not have been able to move so quickly on launching Deckle Edge without their guidance and good will.” In addition to local talent, the festival will highlight a handful of New York Times bestselling authors from the Carolinas, beloved favorites from past S.C. Book Festivals, and many voices not previously heard from at South Carolina literary events. “This is Columbia’s literary festival,” said Deckle Edge co-chair Annie Boiter-Jolley, “but it’s also joining the larger conversation about literature of and in the South. We look forward to sharing our vision with writers and readers, and to hearing from them as to what Deckle Edge might become in future years.” Via: Deckle Edge Literary Festival

Saluda High teacher helps her writers discover world beyond small town

From The State Column by Salley McInerney, photos by Tracy Glantz
[caption id="attachment_19141" align="alignright" width="298"]Saluda High School Kelly Minick teaches English at Saluda High School. Each year a number of her students have been finalists in the South Carolina High School Writing Contest. Here, Minick works with students Breanna Boatwright, left, and Caitlyn Sanford in AP Literature.[/caption] SALUDA COUNTY, SC — On the town square of Saluda, the double doors leading into Rexall DRUGS are covered over in brown paper. It’s just as dark, peering through the front door of the SALUDA movie theater where a sign on the glass boasts “ARTIC AIRE” – a tiny penguin poised between the two words. To the casual observer, it’s tempting to regard this small burgh some 40 miles west of Columbia as merely a quiet place to pass through. On the outskirts of town, cows graze in bucolic pastures. Tractors are parked in tin sheds. No, you simply wouldn’t think much was brewing in Saluda on a mild morning in March. And you would be wrong. Inside English teacher Kelly Minick’s classroom at Saluda High School, a pitch-perfect storm of expression has cut loose; a literary landslide has begun. Eight of the 29 finalists in the prestigious South Carolina High School Writing Contest – set to conclude this Saturday in Columbia – have emerged from this place. “Somehow in this classroom we have developed a sense of camaraderie and I don’t know the reason why,” Minick said. “I just stand up and do what I do. The only thing I can think of is that I have given my students an opportunity to be creative. To see things from a different point of view. And, I have pushed them.” Indeed, the class on this recent morning is a rapid-fire discussion of characterization. Words like “verisimilitude” (having the appearance of truth) are used. Phrases like “All roads lead to tone and theme” are not uncommon. A little Latin gets thrown in – en medias res – in the middle of things. Names of novels get bandied about. William Faulkner’s “As I Lay Dying.” And some of literature’s most vivid characters too. Captain Ahab, from “Moby-Dick.” All the while, Minick never stops moving. She charges to the blackboard. Writes down something a student has said. She perches on a desk, listens to a student. She points to another student. “I want some people who haven’t talked to me,” she said. She goes back to the blackboard. She perches. She smiles. She cajoles. She pushes. “Ms. Minick is a teacher in the truest sense of the word,” said student Alex Lybrand. “Throwing knowledge at a kid is one thing. Ms. Minick opens our minds to all these ideas. She is allowing us to use our potential. She allows us to put down our ideas in ways that we would never have thought of. She makes me see things that I did not notice before. I don’t feel like there are any wrong answers in here. We don’t make mistakes in this class. We just have different interpretations.” Student Lori Able describes the magic of Minick’s teaching this way: “This class changes your view of the world, especially coming from Saluda.” Which, ironically enough, is precisely where the 35-year-old teacher is from. “I was born and raised in the house I live right across from now.” Minick graduated from Saluda High in 1997 and then Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina with a degree in English. “The last thing I wanted to do was be a teacher. I didn’t want to deal with the bureaucracy of it.” But, Minick said, in 2001, “My mom ran into someone who worked at the grocery store who said, ‘Do you know they are looking for an English teacher at the high school? ’ ” The rest is English, if you will. Minick applied and was offered the position. Did she know anything about teaching? “Absolutely not. Noboby taught me how to teach, but I did know my content. So, I taught what made sense to me. I want my students to be able to read, interpret their literature, form opinions based upon the text and then figure out how it is relevant to their lives.” And how does she describe her students? “Besides brilliant? They are from Saluda County. They come from all kinds of homes and all kinds of backgrounds.” And this Saturday, eight of them will undoubtedly shine in the big city, where they will be given 40 minutes to write on a subject disclosed just before work begins. The contest is sponsored by the South Carolina Honors College and the University of South Carolina Press. Novelist Pat Conroy and South Carolina Poet Laureate Marjory Wentworth will judge the students’ work. And what will Minick’s parting advice be to the students who hail from a small town where a store’s windows are covered in brown paper but where she has opened wide a world beyond Saluda County borders? “I’ll tell them, ‘Just do what you do. Just do what you know how to do. ’ ”

Lowcountry literary group offers new programs for writers and prisoners

Lowcountry Initiative for the Literary Arts partners with the South Carolina Arts Commission to produce the Region Three Poetry Out Loud finals. From the Charleston City Paper:
When poets Marjory Wentworth and Carol Ann Davis founded the Lowcountry Initiative for the Literary Arts (LILA) 10 years ago, they wanted to do more than just host book signings and poetry readings. They wanted to create an organization that would nurture Charleston's literary culture in every sense — supporting writers, reaching out to readers, and sharing the written word with Charleston's larger community. Initially, Wentworth and Davis envisioned doing that by setting up a community writing center with workshops and literary events for the general public and quiet writing space for working poets and writers. Although the writing center never materialized, LILA has had a broad influence on the local artistic and educational community. The group sends poets into local schools to work with students, hosts workshops with experienced writers, and, of course, presents plenty of book signings and poetry readings. They've even worked with local authors to offer literary tours in Europe. This year, however, things are a little different. For one thing, LILA has hired its first executive director, Deborah Bernard, who is also the group's first paid employee (albeit part-time for now). "I am thrilled about our new executive director," Wentworth says. "She is a lifesaver, and she's already moving the organization in new directions." Bernard is a former writing and history teacher who moved to Charleston in early 2013. "After we moved, I began to look for ways to serve the community," Bernard says. "[Author and LILA board member] Mary Ann Henry introduced me to LILA. I joined the board, but we then saw that I could serve them better as executive director." Bernard officially took her post as leader of the organization in July and is working on tightening the nuts and bolts of the group, with the goal of expanding LILA's fundraising capacity. "Right now we're working on doing some strategic planning and applying for 501(c)3 status," she says. "We have some great vision priorities in place. We're looking at financial resources, and as we continue to establish our goals, we'll be in a better place to know what kind of fundraising we want." At the same time, Bernard remains deeply committed to LILA's programming. Starting in September, the organization launched two new programs that are reaching into different communities. The first is a series of writing groups for local writers covering all genres, from sci-fi and romance to non-fiction and journalism. Held monthly beginning in September, the groups are open to all writers, novice and professional, who want to connect with other wordsmiths and are looking for constructive feedback on their work. The second is an educational initiative at the Leeds Avenue Pre-Release Center, a state Department of Corrections facility that helps prisoners prepare for re-integration into society through work training, rehabilitation, and education. LILA is hosting two separate writing classes, one on nonfiction called "Writing Your Own Life Story" and another on poetry. LILA has offered poetry classes at the Pre-Release Center before, so there was already something of a working relationship between the two entities. That first poetry program was instituted several years ago by LILA co-founder Davis (Davis, who taught at the College of Charleston, moved to Connecticut in 2012). These classes, however, were organized by Henry, who's relatively new to the LILA board — she's only been a member since March. She wanted to find a way to expand LILA's reach into an underserved community. "The idea of starting another program for inmates seemed natural," she says. She got in touch with the center's warden, Mildred Hudson, who was enthusiastic about the program and put Henry in touch with her volunteer coordinator, Doris Edwards. Over the next couple of months, Edwards and Henry worked to put the classes in place, tapping journalist (and longtime City Paper columnist) Will Moredock and poet Richard Garcia as teachers. Moredock, who's known for his writing on politics, poverty, and race, has some experience with the prison system — he has corresponded with an inmate on death row since 1984. Since then, he's worked with the inmate, John, on his writing skills. Moredock also used to teach at the College of Charleston, so between the two experiences, he says, he felt comfortable agreeing to teach the class. The first session took place Sept. 16 with six students. "These are not hardened criminals," Moredock says. "I don't know what they're in for, but most of them — maybe all of them — work jobs during the day and report back to the Pre-Release Center and spend the night." His goal for the class is pretty simple: help his students deal with whatever issues they might have rattling around in their heads. "We all have our demons and our burdens, and some people drink, some people go to church, some people go to shrinks, and some people write," Moredock says. "If this is going to help them, they will have spent their time well and so will I." Henry, as the program organizer, sees things from a broader standpoint. "As a writing teacher, I know what can happen when an emerging writer first discovers his or her voice. They connect with something authentic within themselves," she says. "Once a writer makes that connection, no amount of poverty or legal or cultural issues can take it away ... Writing can be restorative. It's not for everyone. But if you're essentially wired to connect to the world — to interpret the world — through written expression, small miracles can happen," she says. Henry hopes that at least some of the students will continue to write once they leave the class and prison behind and remain involved with LILA as civilian men and women. It's that kind of hope which reveals an integral element of LILA's belief system: the literary arts belong to everyone, from the scholar to the casual reader to the disenfranchised. Davis and Wentworth always envisioned LILA as offering writing programs related to social justice, Wentworth says, and Henry feels similarly. "I think that each of us has a responsibility to take whatever talent we have and share it with the world in some way," she says. "I believe it's part of what we're supposed to be doing, you know, rather than just taking up oxygen."