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December 3, 2018
For Immediate Release
January 2019 Litchfield Tea & Poetry Reading Features Pair of Prominent Local Poets
Billy Baldwin and Libby Bernardin to Kickstart 13th Run of Annual Poetry Series
The 2019 Litchfield Tea & Poetry Series keeps flowing along as smoothly as the poetic rhythms composed by the many poets it has featured. Beginning in January, the series will enter its thirteenth year at the Waccamaw Library, located at 41 St. Paul Place, Pawleys Island. The series runs from January through April and is typically held on the first Thursday of each month—except for the January reading, which will take place on the second Thursday of the month—at 3:00-4:00 p.m.in the DeBordieu Auditorium. The program is free and open to all.
The first installment of the 2019 series will take place on Thursday, January 10, and will feature two stalwart and accomplished Lowcountry poetic voices: William P. “Billy” Baldwin and Bernardin. An award-winning novelist, poet, photographer, biographer, and historian, Baldwin is something of a coastal South Carolina literary institution unto himself. He has spent nearly all of his life in McClellanville, South Carolina, that quaint coastal village a little ways from us down Highway 17. He has an up-close and personal understanding of the local environs—he’s worked as a shrimper, an oysterman, and a shipbuilder here—and this thoroughgoing knowledge of Lowcountry landscapes and history is reflected fully in his poems, where he explores the workings of an “all-encompassing life-force” through the marshlands and creeks, across the docks, and out onto the open water. Baldwin’s writing draws epic themes out of local settings, for he believes in “the perhaps now unfashionable notion of the indomitable and enduring.” Among his many accomplishments, his first novel The Hard to Catch Mercy, won the Lillian Smith Award for its depiction of southern race relations and he co-authored with Genevieve “Sister” Peterkin the beloved memoir Heaven Is a Beautiful Place. His most recent work, Carolina Rambling: A Visual and Poetical Tour, continues a collaboration with photographer Selden B. “Bud” Hill that commingles Hill’s images and Baldwin’s poems to capture “a touching elegiac look at the Lowcountry’s holy places—from abandoned homes, disintegrating barns, tiny churches and forlorn cemeteries to the shrinking livelihoods of farms, cotton and shrimp.” Their two prior collaborative books, The Unpainted South and These Our Offerings won awards from the Independent Book Sellers Association. Hill is an artist, photographer, historian, and the founding director of The Village Museum in McClellanvile, who has done much to record and preserve the rural past of the Lowcountry. Hill will serve as the Waccamaw Library’s Featured Photographer during January and February 2019, so patrons can visit anytime during normal Library hours and view a special exhibit of evocative images from Carolina Rambling that complement Baldwin’s lyrical musings.
For her part, Bernardin, who is a long-serving member of the Board of Governors for the South Carolina Academy of Authors, will be celebrating the publication of a new book of poems Stones Ripe for Sowing (Press 53). She, too, has proven a foundational presence on the area poetry scene as well as an advocate for poetry across South Carolina, ensuring that there continue to be worthy opportunities for talented and emerging poets in the region and state. Bernardin’s verse recently won competitions in South Carolina as well as North Carolina: in 2015, she was awarded the South Carolina Poetry Society Forum Prize, while her poem “Transmigration” was the winner of the North Carolina Poetry of Witness Award. “Transmigration” was published in Pinesong, and nominated for a 2017 Pushcart Prize, a national honor. Bernardin’s poems have appeared in numerous journals, and she has produced two chapbooks, The Book of Myth (SC Poetry Initiative 2009) and Layers of Song (Finishing Line Press 2011). Her reading on January 10 will focus on poems from Stones Ripe for Sowing, which are “simultaneously youthful and wise, and brimming with life; compassionate and unfailingly generous.” According to well-known environmental writer John Lane, “Libby Bernardin’s poems summon a landscape of vivid imagining—her birds, skies, stars, and wind. Yet these are not merely poems of the outer natural world, no matter how beautifully they render it. Stones Ripe for Sowing has immense inner life and displays the power of the poet as seeker.”
The lineup of poets who will read in the series this year is notable, mixing strong local talent while pulling in “name” poets from outside the state. The remaining 2019 slate of poets is as follows:
Thursday, February 7 Tim Conroy and Grace Ocasio
Thursday, March 7 Pat Riviere-Seel and open mic
Thursday, April 4 Ashley Mace Havird and David Havird