Pioneers in Poetry: South Carolina’s Poet Laureate

South-Carolina-Poet-LaureateLast week, we discussed how South Carolina Poet Laureate Majory Wentworth faced unexpected controversy over her poem written for the inaugural ceremony for the state’s new governor. But that story aside, what else do we know about the Palmetto State’s official poetry representative? Read on to learn more about Marjory Wentworth and her poetic plans for the literary culture of South Carolina.

South Carolina State Poet Laureate: The Backstory

 Marjory Wentworth, though the current poet laureate of South Carolina, was actually appointed to the position nearly twelve years ago by then-governor Mark Sanford. Her predecessor, Bennie Lee Sinclair, had left the position in 2000, so Wentworth was able to restore a state tradition by taking over the duties and role of laureate. The first poet laureate of the state was appointed back in 1934.

 Following in the Steps of a State’s Poetic Legacy

 Being named the poet laureate of a state like South Carolina is no small accomplishment when you consider how steeped in literary tradition the state is. As Wentworth pointed out in an opinion piece published in the New York Times in 2014, her state is home to the oldest poetry society in the country, The Poetry Society of South Carolina. The society predates even the position of state poet laureate; it was established in 1920. The volunteer-based collective boosts South Carolinians involvement in the world of poetry through hosting readings, providing writing seminars, and holding writing contests- 22 in total!

 Marjory Wentworth’s Published Works

 Part of what makes a writer a good candidate to be their state’s poet laureate is how prolific they are. Even if that were the sole criteria, Wentworth would be in good shape: she has published three collections of poems, a children’s book, and has co-authored a nonfiction book with writer Juan Mendez. She is also involved in many literary organizations at the state level, including the Lowcountry Initiative for the Literary Arts and, of course, the Poetry Society of South Carolina, of which she is a member of the board of directors.

 Gaining Inspiration from History

 Whether you live in a state with a rich literary tradition like South Carolina or you are inspired by events of the past like Marjory Wentworth was with her inauguration poem, using history to fuel your writing can be very beneficial. Try out writing a few poems that take historical events or traditions into account. If you like what you write, consider submitting it to our poetry contest and show your work to the world! Visit our Facebook and Twitter pages for updates!   Sources:

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