The Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission (CCPRC) is proud to host the first poetry reading in partnership with James Island Arts at McLeod Plantation Historic Site on Sunday, Nov. 13. Poet Kendra Hamilton will do a reading at 2 p.m.
Dr. Hamilton is a Charleston native and award-winning writer who has been featured on C-SPAN, NPR, and at the Spoleto Festival USA. Her poetry appears in The Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry, The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, Bum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam, among others, and she is the author of The Goddess of Gumbo and Romancing the Gullah. Dr. Hamilton’s recent art reflects her research into the lives of enslaved Americans. She is a professor and director of Southern Studies at Presbyterian College and a Cave Canem Fellow. Cave Canem is an educational organization for African American poets whose fellows include South Carolina’s recent National Book Award winners, Terrance Hayes and Nikky Finney.
The poetry reading on Nov. 13 will take place on the grounds of McLeod Plantation Historic Site. Following the reading, there will be a reception and Dr. Hamilton will sign her book The Goddess of Gumbo. Guests will have the opportunity to join a guided tour of McLeod Plantation at 3 p.m. The reading will be free of charge with admission to McLeod Plantation Historic Site. Park admission is $10, or $6 for ages 3-12 (free for ages 2 and under). Gold Pass membership allows free entry for 4 guests per visit.
Located on James Island and owned and operated by CCPRC, McLeod Plantation Historic Site is a former sea island cotton plantation that has borne witness to some of the most significant periods of Charleston history. Today McLeod Plantation is an important 37-acre Gullah/Geechee heritage site carefully preserved in recognition of its cultural and historical significance. The site’s buildings include homes that make up Transition Row, where enslaved families and their free descendants lived and transitioned from slavery to freedom during the 19th and 20th centuries.
The James Island Arts Committee and CCPRC hope Dr. Hamilton’s poetry reading and book signing will spark community interest in African American poetry and other art exhibitions and events at the historic site. James Island Arts is a citizens’ committee sponsored by the Town of James Island that seeks to enhance the cultural experience of all James Islanders. Presenting contemporary African-American perspectives on the plantation experience, fundamental to sea island history and culture, advances their goal to foster a more vibrant and cohesive cultural community on James Island. This project is funded in part by the City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs and the City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Program through their joint administration of the Lowcountry Quarterly Arts Grant Program and the South Carolina Arts Commission, which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John and Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund of the Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina. For more information on the James Island Arts Committee, visit www.facebook.com/jamesislandarts.
McLeod Plantation Historic Site is open for regular visitation every Tuesday through Sunday. For more information on McLeod Plantation, visit CharlestonCountyParks.com/McLeod or call 843-762-9514.
Article and photograph courtesy of Charleston County Park & Recreation Commission