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Our Prince of Scribes Writers Conference -- Aiken
Aiken County Historical Museum
Aiken, SC
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Our Prince of Scribes Writers Conference -- Aiken

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 volumes 67 contributing writers. Our Prince of Scribes was also awarded the silver medal as the Southeasts Best Regional Nonfiction Book in the Independent Publisher Book Awards and named Best Nonfiction Anthology in the International Book Awards. The essays in the collection honor Pat Conroy (19452016) as lifelong teacher, mentor, friend, and champion of his fellow writers. In that same spirit of mentorship, the nonprofit Pat Conroy Literary Center will host a one-day writers conference in Aiken, SC, featuring five of the collections writers.

Join Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy contributing writers William A. Balk Jr., Tim Conroy, Jonathan Haupt, Alexia Jones Helsley, and John Warley for a lively series of four writing workshops at the Aiken County Historical Museum and a panel discussion at the Aiken County Public Library on Saturday, August 24--presented in partnership between the Pat Conroy Literary Center and the South Carolina Writers Association.  

$40 for SCWA members and $55 for non-members, all-day registration includes all 4 workshops. The panel discussion is free and open to the public; books by presenting workshop faculty--including Our Prince of Scribes--will be available for sale and signing.

"Our Prince of Scribes isn't just a collection of homages but also a delightful introduction to Conroy's vast and talented circle of friends."--Washington Post

"In Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy, edited by Nicole Seitz and Jonathan Haupt, a collection of writers navigate the rich and often complicated landscape that was Conroy's life.... Many of the writers have benefited from Conroy's nurturing, and through their stories, they seek to honor his memory and continue to advance his unmistakable impact on modern literature."--Augusta Chronicle

Aiken County Historical Museum, 433 Newberry Street SW
10:00-11:00 a.m., Bookselling 101: A Conversation for Writers and Readers | William A. Balk Jr. and Jonathan Haupt
In a dialogue aimed toward the interests of writers and readers alike, veteran bookseller William A. Balk Jr. and former publisher and book marketer Jonathan Haupt will discuss the multifaceted world of bookselling. Topics addressed in this session will include the economics of bookstores and distributors, successful author events (book signings), winning the hearts and minds of your local bookstores as a customer and an author, and the importance of immersion into your local literary community as reader, patron, and writer. Bring your own questions too for a lively round of Ask a Bookseller!  

11:20 a.m.-12:20 p.m., Navigating Pathways to Publication | Jonathan Haupt
From traditional models to self-publishing to hybrid, myriad opportunities for publication now exist for writers, but finding legitimate paths to publication can be a challenge for many burgeoning writers. Conroy Center executive director and former USC Press director Jonathan Haupt will offer an overview for identifying directories of vetted opportunities for publication--agents, publishers, contests, and journals--with an emphasis on pathways into small presses and regional presses. This session will also include a brief discussion (both instructive and cautionary) of how Pat Conroy's first two books, The Boo and The Water Is Wide, came to be published.

12:20-1:50 p.m., Lunch on Your Own
Visit one of historic downtown Aiken's many fine local restaurants. Then let's regroup for two more afternoon sessions at the Aiken County Historical Museum followed by our closing panel at the Aiken County Public Library.  

1:50-2:50 p.m., Backstories, Linchpins and Launching Pads: Writing with Historical Documents | Alexia Jones Helsley
Join author and historian Alexia Jones Helsley to explore the exciting possibilities of using historical documents to inspire your creativity and enrich your story telling. Drawing on her years of archival experience, Helsley will share examples of South Carolinas rich documentary heritage as participants delve behind the written word to discover new perspectives on the past, new understanding of the stories behind the written words and a renewed appreciation of the old adage that Truth is stranger than fiction.

3:00-4:00 p.m., Saying the Great Yes | Tim Conroy
Do you choose to become a poet or do currents steer you towards its shore? Once the choice is made, how do you discover your poems? In King of the River, Stanley Kunitz tells us, "I did not choose the way/ the way chose me." Ferlinghetti willingly tempts reputation and life on the high-wire in Constantly Risking Absurdity. Seamus Heaney excavates lines with his squat pen in Digging and rhymes to capture his youth in Personal Helicon. Dylan Thomas toils for no accolades or money In My Craft Or Sullen Art. James Merrill presses art for understanding from volatile synthetic solvents in his poem, In Dreams about Clothes and Richard Wilbur in The Writer observes that writers like his young daughter also bear a great cargo.   In Che FeceIl Gran Rifiuto, Cavafy clarifies For some people the day comes / when they have to say the great Yes / or the great No. In Letters to a Young Poet, Rilke reminds us, The future enters us in order to transform us long before we know it. He mentors the young poet to have patience.

In this session, poet Tim Conroy will discuss his brother Pats commitment to the writing life at a young age and Pats transition from self-described failed poet to successful writer of lyrical prose. Tim will also discuss how, inspired by his brother and sister Carol, he too was finally able to say his own great Yes to becoming a writer. Through excerpts of poetry about writing and familial stories, this session invites participants to think about and share what has held them back and what has pushed them forward in their own creative lives. Participants will explore how choice, risk, and commitment inform our writing practices.

Aiken County Public Library, 314 Chesterfield Street S.
4:30-6:00 p.m., Our Prince of Scribes panel discussion and book signing
The award-winning anthology Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy celebrates the remarkable legacy of Pat Conroy as teacher, mentor, friend, and champion to his fellow writers. Moderated by co-editor and Conroy Center executive director Jonathan Haupt, this panel discussion will featuring four of the collections contributing writers--bookseller and gardening writer William A. Balk Jr., poet Tim Conroy, historian Alexia Jones Helsley, and novelist John Warley--as they discuss the inspirational roles Pat Conroy played in their own writing lives. A book signing will follow their discussion. This closing event is free an open to the public.  

William A. Balk Jr., veteran bookseller and master gardener, is a contributing writer to Our Prince of Scribes. Balk also writes for WeeklyHubris.com. He serves on the board of directors of South Carolina Humanities and on the advisory council of the Pat Conroy Literary Center, where he is the volunteer coordinator.

Tim Conroy is a poet and former educator. His work has been published in literary journals, magazines, and compilations, including Fall Lines, Jasper, and Marked by Water. In 2017, Muddy Ford Press published his first book of poetry, Theologies of Terrain, edited by Ed Madden, poet laureate of the City of Columbia. A founding board member of the Pat Conroy Literary Center, established in his brothers honor, Tim Conroy is a contributing writer to Our Prince of Scribes.

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. 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 magazine, Pink magazine, Shrimp, Collards & Grits magazine, Fall Lines, and the Conroy Centers Porch Talk blog. He serves as an associate producer and consultant to the SCETV author interview program By the River, on the board of directors of the South Carolina Academy of Authors and the Friends of South Carolina Libraries, on the American Writers Museum affiliates steering committee, and on the South Carolina Humanities advisory committee.

Alexia Jones Helsley is an American archivist and historian who currently serves as senior instructor of history and university archivist at the University of South Carolina Aiken. She is the author of several nonfiction books, including Beaufort, South Carolina: A History; Wicked Beaufort; Hidden History of Greenville County, SC; A Guide to Historic Beaufort; Columbia, South Carolina: History; Wicked Edisto: The Dark Side of Eden; and A History of North Carolina Wine. In addition, she is a contributor to South Carolina Women: Their Lives and Times, volume 1, and the South Carolina Encyclopedia. Helsley also chairs the Old Exchange Commission and is a member of the Beaufort High School Hall of Fame, and on the board of the South Carolina Historical Association. She is the recipient of the 2006 Governors Archives Award, USCAs first part-time teaching award, and the Bobby Gilmer Moss Research Award (SCDAR).

John Warley, a native South Carolinian, is a graduate of The Citadel and the University of Virginia School of Law. Now a full-time writer, he divides his time between Beaufort, South Carolina, and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Warley is the author of the novels Bethesda's Child, The Moralist, The Moralist II, A Southern Girl, and The Home Guard. He is also the author of the nonfiction book Stand Forever, Yielding Never: The Citadel in the 21st Century and The Citadel at War, a narrative history of the college etched into the granite walls of The Citadel War Memorial, which opened to the public in October 2017.


Aiken County Historical Museum (View)
433 Newberry Street SW
Aiken, SC 29801
United States


Arts > Literary

Kid Friendly: No
Dog Friendly: No
Non-Smoking: Yes!
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!


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