How many South Carolina poets can you name? Let’s see…James Dickey (though not born here), J. Gordon Coogler, Dubose Heyward, Paul Hamilton Hayne, Henry Timrod, Marjory Wentworth….
The reason I ask is because Ms. Wentworth, herself — South Carolina’s current poet laureate — is organizing the Dead Poet’s Bash in Charleston and invites all poets and lovers of poetry to come out and read from their favorite dead South Carolina poet. I guess that disqualifies Marjory from having any of her material read (for a long time, I hope), but there are still plenty to chose from. Choose your favorite dead poet and come on out to East Bay Meeting House on Thursday, May 13. Get all the details below.
Charleston, SC….East Bay Meeting House located at 159 East Bay Street in downtown Charleston will host the SC stop on the Dead Poets Tour on Thursday May 13th at 6:30 PM. to read your favorite S C dead poet. You will be filmed for the Dead Poets Grand Tour 2010! Sign-up starts at 6:00 PM. Sponsored by the Poetry Society of SC and LILA.
Who: SC Poetry Society, LILA, and Lowcountry poetry lovers
What: Dead Poets Bash
Where: East Bay Meeting Street, 159 East Bay St
When: Thursday May 13 6:30 — 8:30 PM
For further information, call Marjory Wentworth at 843-693-5191, visit the web site www.deadpoes.org
Background for Dead Poets Bash:
Today is the anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth, and his death, which is why thirteen State Poets Laureate, in cooperation with the Dead Poets Society of America, have chosen this date to announce a new national literary holiday that will honor poets.
At the kick-off event of a 22-State, 1,600-mile Dead Poets Grand Tour 2010, Walter Skold announced the creation of the Dead Poets Remembrance Day, to be held for the first time next October 7th. Fittingly, October 7th is the day that Edgar Allan Poe died.
“We are launching this tour in order to encourage people in every state to get together on October 7th to honor our dead poets by reading at the grave of a poet near them,” said Walter Skold, the founder of the Dead Poets Society of America.
Along the way they are going to visit some of the most and least-well known deceased poets in the US, including Robert Lowell, Donald Justice, James Whitcomb Riley, John Trumball, Henry Timrod, Abram Ryan, and Sarah Whitman.
“As Poet Laureate of South Carolina, the place with the oldest state poetry society in the country, Dead Poets Remembrance Day is particularly meaningful to me,” said Marjory Wentworth, the poet laureate of South Carolina.” The lives of many of our greatest poets are inherently fascinating, and learning about them and their work is a great way to get people excited about traditions in American poetry,” she added. “Poets bring a unique perspective to history and often illuminate the untold human dimension to events that are generally not told in history books.”
The opening reading in Portland Maine’s Eastern Cemetery was chosen because a British and an American sea captain that are mentioned in Longfellow’s famous poem, “My Lost Stops along the 34-day tour also include Lincoln’s Tomb, in Springfield, IL., the Poe Museum, in Richmond, VA., and Swan Point cemetery, in Providence, Rhode Island, where Poe courted the poetess Sarah Whitman.
The idea for the new holiday developed after Skold learned of a dozen communities have annual readings at the graves of famous poets, like Poe, Whitman, Dickinson, and Anne Sexton. It is also a sort-of combination between All-Saints Day, the Day of the Dead, and Halloween, when graveyards are filled with both saints and revelers. “As I compiled a list of over 600 poets to place on our online maps,” said Skold, “I thought “why is it that the majority of our dead poets have no one to visit their graves?’ The Dead Poets Remembrance Day will be an opportunity for people all over to learn about the amazing history and diversity of American poets, as well as a way to remember them for their contribution to American literature,” he said. According to Skold, over 400 American poets’ graves have yet to be well-documented, so the group is also sponsoring a photo and video contest to help locate the graves. “The purpose of the contest is so that people can enrich our historical and cultural commons by helping to put America’s dead poets back on the map,” said Skold. They are hoping that high school students, graveyard aficionados, and poetry-lovers will consult librarians, biographies, and historical societies in order to find and photograph America’s lost poets.
On the DPSA website are links to maps from every state in the continental US, as well as rules and guidelines for the contest. www.deadpoes.org
“By October 7th we are hoping that a few hundred poets’ graves will have been be re-discovered, and that the new literary holiday will develop into an annual tradition,” said Skold.
In 2009 Skold drove the “PoeMobile” to 150 poets’ graves in 90 days, but this year the focus is on community readings as a way of letting people join in the celebration of local poets. The 22-State tour will begin in Portland, Maine, on April 23rd, and end in Providence, Rhode Island, on May 24th.
“And this time, we are getting permission from cemeteries ahead of time so there are no concerns about gravestone theft or Satanic rituals.”