Last year our season was adjusted, just like everything else. As we all missed the hugs and in-person gatherings with our families, so we poets and writers missed those with our fellow creative spirits. Our Afternoon of Poetry and Prose season runs from August through April, and so with caution, we begin again.
One of the most enjoyable pieces of being part of Afternoon of Poetry and Prose is finding and inviting our slate of Feature Readers for the year. We have just eight gatherings which makes it a challenge when there are so many we’d love to invite.
While our Feature Readers don’t have to have a published book or collection of poetry, most of them do, and in many cases their work has been published within the previous year. We’re blessed to be among such gifted authors who share their work, their words of wisdom about their craft, and their part of the journey that all of us are walking.
Here’s the schedule of this year’s Feature Readers. You don’t have to live in the area to enjoy their work, but if you’re ever in the area on one of these Sundays afternoons (2:00-4:00), please join us at the York County Council of the Arts in downtown Rock Hill!
August 15 – Re-gathering and open mic This is always an energetic gathering as the regular members come back and reconnect. As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, our group’s writings cover every genre and it’s always a surprise what will be read. Because we don’t have an outside Feature Reader, this gathering is a time for our members to have an extended time to read – and every minute is filled!
September 12 – Len Lawson Len has been a friend of Afternoon of Poetry and Prose for years, when he and fellow poet Al Black were Feature Readers during their Poets Respond to Race tour. This year – on the heels of receiving his Doctorate, and the publication of 2 books of poetry! – Len opens our season as a solo Feature Reader. Len will make us think and make us laugh.
October 10 – TBA – but I can guarantee she will be awesome!
November 14 – Susan Beckham Zurenda Susan’s debut novel, Bells of Eli, has already garnered numerous awards and it hasn’t been out that long! The story of two cousins, a tragic accident, and life in the South during turbulent times is set in a town like Lancaster, SC – where Susan was raised. The house where one of the cousins lives, is based on Susan’s family home, the historic Wade-Beckham Home in rural Lancaster County. Can’t wait to hear what Susan has to share about putting part of her real life into fiction.
December 12 – Robert Lee Kendrick Robert is one of our very few repeat Feature Readers. His first visit was after the publication of his chapbook, Winter Skin. Two years ago his second collection, Shape the Bent Straight, was released and he was scheduled to be with us, but of course that didn’t happen. During the shutdown, Robert decided to take on a new challenge of launching a new literary magazine – Twelve Mile Review.
January 9 – Alexandra Aradas Doesn’t Alexandra have the greatest smile? Alexandra is Rock Hill’s – actually South Carolina’s – first Youth Poet Laureate. You can almost feel her enthusiasm and energy just by looking at her photo. Alexandra is already working on her own collection of poetry, and on her activities and events for her term as Youth Poet Laureate. We look forward to hearing this talented young lady.
February 13 – Janice Steele Janice’s moving memoir, Remembering Terri, was her first book and she’s convinced it is her only! But her complicated grief over losing her adult, special-needs daughter blossomed this book, music, and other creative endeavors. It also was the seed in starting a support group for grieving parents. Janice is a self-published author so she has much to share about her story as both a grieving parent and her road to publishing.
March 13 – Tom Poland Tom writes a column for our local newspaper and has also written several books – most about the back roads of South Carolina and the quirky, interesting finds along his travels. He’s found ancient, virgin woods. He hunts for the ghosts and relics of mills, houses, and towns that are little more than rubble in the dust of two-lane highways. He has a special reverence and respect for those places, and the items that are ‘things of the past’.
April 10 – Kakalak 2021 Contributors April is National Poetry Month so we always close our season with the poets and artists of Kakalak. This year there were over 500 poems submitted and over 100 pieces of artwork that were whittled down to about 100 poems and 25 pieces of art to be included in the anthology. It’s always a pleasure to hear the poems read in the poet’s voice, and hear the background of the art.
As I write this, the Delta variant of Covid is spreading. Yesterday morning we were told the Bishop has again required that masks be worn during mass. I hope with precautions in place our Afternoon of Poetry and Prose 2021-2022 season will go forward as planned because we all need our family – in all the various forms and configurations that takes – and because we and the world need our stories of strength, grace, struggle, and humor.