African American poetry series featured in the Heritage Corridor
The South Carolina National Heritage Corridor and the South Carolina Poetry Initiative announce the SCNHC Poetic Histories: 2005 African American Heritage Poetry Series from January through May.
As part of the Poetry Series, six sites with African American historic significance in the Heritage Corridor have been selected to host poets in residence and a poetry series event each month. The selected locations are: Boone Hall Plantation, Benjamin Mays Homestead, Fort Moultrie, Freedom Hill’s Church, the Avery Center and Voorhees College.
Freedom’s Hill Church is located at Southern Wesleyan University’s main campus in Central. In 1847, a Wesleyan Methodist minister who loved God and hated slavery accepted a call to pastor a new congregation of Southern Christians who had taken the same courageous stand in the turbulent years before the Civil War. This church, the first Wesleyan church built in the South, stands as a monument to their commitment and faith. The church, built in North Carolina, was moved to Southern Wesleyan University in 1999 and there it hosts religious services, serves as the centerpiece of an interpretive history program featuring the students of the university and provides a place for prayer and quiet reflection.
At each location, the poet in residence will host workshops for children and adults and read original poetry written specifically for the site. The poets to be featured in the series are: Kwame Dawes, Charlene Spearen, Kevin Simmonds, Porchia Moore, Ray Heathe, Eboniramm, Vera Gomez, Curtiss Sumner, Curtis Lampkin, Ray McManus and Stacy Smallwood.
The series will conclude on May 21 at 7 p.m. at Liberty Square in Charleston with a reading by the poets in residence along with other notable South Carolina poets. There will be performances of WISTERIA, a celebration of African American women of the Midlands and Lowcountry featuring the poetry of Kwame Dawes and the musical compositions of Kevin Simmonds.
All poetry generated from the series will be compiled and published in a book, which will be available at the final event.
Jairus Dayton-Garris, African American Tourism Development Manager for the SCNHC, said it is thrilling that the various site directors leapt at this opportunity.
“Our goal is to empower people in the communities to develop programs that enhance local cultural life and help to preserve the history of African Americans in this state,” said Garris. “This project is exactly the kind of project the Heritage Corridor likes to be involved in.”
For information about the S.C. National Heritage Corridor Poetic Histories: 2005 African American Heritage Poetry Series, please contact Dayton-Garris at (803) 734-2449 or visit www.sc-heritagecorridor.org.
Established in 1996 as a National Heritage Area, the South Carolina National Heritage Corridor extends 240 miles across the state, from the mountains of Oconee County, along the Savannah River, to the port city of Charleston. There are less than 30 such heritage areas in the United States. It is a grassroots initiative designed to use natural, cultural and historical resources to provide economic development through tourism.
The South Carolina Poetry Initiative is a new statewide program based at the University of South Carolina English Department. It was organized to promote and celebrate the poetic arts and build a more diverse audience for writers in the state.