Since its publication in September 2018, the anthology Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy, edited by Nicole Seitz and Jonathan Haupt, has been the subject of more than 40 events in ten states, featuring (thus far) 50 of the volume’s 67 contributing writers. Our Prince of Scribes was also awarded the silver medal as the Southeast’s Best Regional Nonfiction Book in the Independent Publisher Book Awards. The next iteration of the book’s life will begin on June 29, at Charleston’s iconic Circular Congregational Church (150 Meeting St.) when six of the “Scribes” lead a one-day writers conference, honoring the myriad ways in which the late Pat Conroy (1945–2016) served as mentor and champion in their own writing lives.
The nonprofit Pat Conroy Literary Center, in partnership with the South Carolina Writers Association, Buxton Books, and the Companion Foundation, will present the Our Prince of Scribes Writers Conference from 9:45 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. for the educational benefit of writers of all levels of experience. A series of four workshops on the writing craft and professionalization will be led by Sean A. Scapellato (a Charleston-based writer, teacher, and attorney), Marjory Wentworth (South Carolina’s poet laureate), Ellen Malphrus (poet, novelist, and writer-in-residence at USC Beaufort), and Stephanie Austin Edwards (novelist, writing instructor, and author consultant). The workshops address the art of writing compelling beginnings, the poetry of place, nature writing and journaling, and creative organization.
The quartet of accomplished faculty members will be joined midday by fellow Our Prince of Scribes contributing writers Jonathan Haupt, the Conroy Center’s executive director, and judge Alex Sanders, former president of the College of Charleston, for a lunchtime panel discussion of Pat Conroy’s legacy as a teacher and lifelong mentor to his fellow writers.
The all-day registration fee of $50 for SCWA members and $70 for nonmembers includes all four writing workshops, the panel discussion, lunch catered by Brown Dog Deli, and a closing wine and cheese reception at Buxton Books (160 King St.). Books by the presenters, including Our Prince of Scribes, will be available for sale and autographing. Additional details and registration information is online at https://scribesconf1.bpt.me.
The Conroy Center plans to offer additional Our Prince of Scribes Writers Conferences around the state with more workshops being led by a rotating cast of contributing writers from the award-winning anthology honoring Pat Conroy. The Conroy Center is located at 905 Port Republic Street in Beaufort, South Carolina, and open to the public from noon to 4:00 p.m., Thursday through Sunday. For additional information, please visit www.patconroyliterarycenter.org. The South Carolina Writers Association is a statewide nonprofit literary arts organization offering a supportive environment for people to become better writers. Learn more at www.myscwa.org.
ABOUT THE FACULTY AND PRESENTERS
Before Stephanie Austin Edwards returned to the Lowcountry of South Carolina, and to her love of writing, she had a twenty-two-year career in New York theater. She now writes fiction and non-fiction, facilitates writers groups, teaches writing workshops, and consults with authors. She is the author of the award-winning novel What We Set in Motion and a contributing writer to Our Prince of Scribes, an anthology about her high school friend Pat Conroy, and Short Story America VI. Edwards is honored to be part of forwarding the mission of the Pat Conroy Literary Center, where she volunteers and leads writing workshops.
Jonathan Haupt is the executive director of the Pat Conroy Literary Center, the founding director of the annual Pat Conroy Literary Festival, and the former director of the University of South Carolina Press, where he created the Story River Books fiction imprint with Pat Conroy. With novelist and artist Nicole Seitz, he is co-editor of the anthology Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy. Haupt’s articles, book reviews, and author interviews have appeared in the Charleston Post & Courier, Beaufort Lowcountry Weekly, Beaufort Lifestyle, Fall Lines, and the Conroy Center’s Porch Talk blog. He serves as an associate producer and consultant to the SCETV author interview program By the River.
Ellen Malphrus lives and writes beside the May River in her native South Carolina Lowcountry and beneath the mountains of western Montana. She studied under James Dickey and was also mentored by her beloved friend Pat Conroy. She is a professor of English and the writer-in-residence at the University of South Carolina Beaufort, as well as deputy director of the annual Pat Conroy Literary Festival. Malphrus fiction, poetry, essays, and articles have appeared in publications including Southern Literary Journal, Review of Contemporary Fiction, William & Mary Review, James Dickey Review, Haight Ashbury Review, Georgia Poetry Review, Essence of Beaufort and the Lowcountry, SCG Lifestyle Magazine, and Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy.
Alex Sanders is the former chief judge of the South Carolina Court of Appeals and has served as the president of the College of Charleston and the Charleston School of Law. He is the coauthor of three books and numerous articles for law journals and regional publications and a contributing writer to Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy.
Sean A. Scapellato is a writer of fiction and essays, a former creative writing teacher at Charleston County School of the Arts, and now a lawyer in Charleston, South Carolina. He is a contributing writer to Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy.
Marjory Wentworth is the New York Times best-selling author of Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets (with Kwame Alexander and Chris Colderley). She is the coauthor of We Are Charleston: Tragedy and Triumph at Mother Emanuel, with Herb Frazier and Dr. Bernard Powers, and Taking a Stand: The Evolution of Human Rights, with Juan Mendez. She is co-editor with Kwame Dawes of Seeking: Poetry and Prose Inspired by the Art of Jonathan Green, and the author of the prizewinning children’s story Shackles. Her books of poetry include Noticing Eden, Despite Gravity, The Endless Repetition of an Ordinary Miracle and New and Selected Poems. Wentworth teaches at the College of Charleston and The Citadel. She is the Poet Laureate of South Carolina and a contributing writer to Our Prince of Scribes.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS, JUNE 29
9:45 to 10:00 a.m.: Welcome at Circular Congregational Church (150 Meeting St.) – Jonathan Haupt
10:00 to 11:00 a.m.: WORKSHOP 1: The Lukeman Hurdle and How to Leap It – Sean A. Scapellato
Literary agent Noah Lukeman said agents and editors don't read manuscripts to enjoy them. Rather they read with an eye to dismiss them, to get through the pile before the next wave of submissions. In this workshop, Sean Scapellato will explain and expand on Lukeman's premise by discussing the importance of beginnings (short stories and novels) and why so many writers are rejected before the end of the first chapter. He will compare and contrast the current-day novel opening with books that were popular 10, 20, 50 years ago, and how distractions of culture, social media, and binge-watching have now forced writers to be more nuanced and urgent in their storytelling. Sean will also discuss several advanced fiction techniques with printed examples that might help in getting your manuscript read beyond the first chapter. These subtleties can elevate ordinary plot and character elements in ways that will distinguish your writing from the masses and demonstrate dedication to mastery of the craft regardless of genre or commerciality.
11:15 a.m.to 12:15 p.m.: WORKSHOP 2: Poetry of Place – Marjory Wentworth
In his famous opening line from The Prince of Tides, “Pat Conroy wrote My wound is geography.” His lyrical descriptions of his beloved South Carolina low country are some of the most beautiful passages in American literature. Pat loved poetry and used poetic devices to bring the landscape to life. In this workshop, we will analyze the poems: "Coming Home, Detroit, 1968" by Philip Levine, "Knoxville, Tennessee" by Nikki Giovanni, and "Nantucket" by William Carlos Williams. These poems are distinctly different in form, style, and tone. We will discuss these differences. We will also discuss the poetic devices that all three poets use successfully. Then we will write poems about a place that are significant for each of us.
12:30 to 2:00 p.m.: LUNCH & PANEL DISCUSSION of Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy with Stephanie Austin Edwards, Ellen Malphrus, Alex Sanders, Sean A. Scapellato, and Marjory Wentworth, moderated by Jonathan Haupt | Includes lunch catered by Brown Dog Deli; books available for sale and signing.
2:15 to 3:15 p.m.: WORKSHOP 3: Nature Writing, with a Side Order of Journaling – Ellen Malphrus
Pat Conroy, in the foreword for Ellen’s novel Untying the Moon, said, “Ellen Malphrus writes about [the Lowcountry] with the osprey-eyed vision of a native [and] possesses a raw genius for nature writing.” In this workshop, Ellen will lead us on a journey of observation, not only into the alluring landscapes of the South Carolina Lowcountry (and beyond), but also inward as we explore what the natural world can teach us about ourselves. Look deep into nature, Albert Einstein said, and you will understand everything better. Let’s do–and then let’s write about it!
3:30 to 4:30 p.m.: WORKSHOP 4: Creative Organization for Writers – Stephanie Austin Edwards
Finding time for writing is a challenge for many, so let’s learn to make the most of limited time through being better organized for creativity. This class offers productivity advice and tools on how to get started and keep going for maximum creative flow and minimum technical frustration. Novelist and writing teacher and consultant Stephanie Austin Edwards will guide participants through making and maintaining a writing schedule; organizing documents and files for consistent easy access; formatting work for submission to editors, agents, and publishers; discussing book genres and manuscript lengths for publication; and sorting through the abundance of online help and software available. This workshop is designed to help writers create and maintain a personal system of organization that then allows time for writing focus more impactfully on the creative act itself.
4:30 to 4:45 p.m.: Closing – Jonathan Haupt
5:00 to 6:00 p.m.: Reception and book signing at Buxton Books (160 King St.)