Words Across the Water – Fall 2022 – Winter 2023

South Carolina State University will present a series of four interactive, virtual programs on “Words Across the Water: Writing and Discourse Across the Black Atlantic” from September 2022 – February 2023. SC Humanities helped support this program with a Mini Grant.

“Words Across the Water” will explore the intersections where Anglophone Caribbean and African American cultural traditions meet and engage each other in language.“Challenged and Forbidden” (September 15), “Indigenous and Migration” (October 6), “Ancestors” (October 27), “Celebrating Celebration!” (November 17), and “Celebrating Black Voices” (February 9). Each program will feature different speakers reading literary works relevant to the theme and facilitating dialogue. This series builds on previous “Words Across the Water” series that ran from January – April 2021, September – November 2021, and February – April 2022.

The program schedule is:

Thursday, September 15, 2022 | 5:00 p.m.
Challenged and Forbidden Words
Poets Jacqueline Bishop and Richard Georges will be the featured guests for the opening program. The event is free, but preregistration at https://tinyurl.com/4km3sub3 is required.  (After registering, participants will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.)

Jacqueline Bishop is an accomplished writer, academic, and visual artist with exhibitions in Belgium, Morocco, Italy, Cape Verde, Niger, USA, and Jamaica. In addition to her role as Assistant Professor at New York University, Jacqueline Bishop was a 2020 Dora Maar/Brown Foundation Fellow in France; 2008-2009 Fulbright Fellow in Morocco; and 2009-2010 UNESCO/Fulbright Fellow in Paris. Bishop has received several awards, including: the OCM Bocas Award for her book “The Gymnast & Other Position”, The Canute A. Brodhurst Prize for short story writing, The Arthur Schomburg Award for Excellence in the Humanities from New York University, A James Michener Creative Writing Fellowship, as well as several awards from the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission. Jacqueline’s recent ceramic work consists of brightly colored bone China plates used symbolically in Caribbean homes, and explores how they hid the violent legacy of slavery and colonialism in the Atlantic world.

Richard Georges is a writer and editor in the British Virgin Islands. He is the author of three collections of poetry, Make Us All Islands (2017), Giant (2018), and Epiphaneia (2019), which won the 2020 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature. He is the current Poet Laureate of the Virgin Islands, and works in higher education in Tortola where he lives with his wife and children.

Thursday, October 6, 2022 | 5:00 p.m.
Indigenous and Migration
The October 6 Words Across the Water program will feature Poets Cyndi Marshall of the Barbabos and Jillian Hanesworth of Buffalo NY.  Poet and educator Hannah Hoilett-Frierson will be the moderator. The event is free on Zoom, but pre-registration is required at https://tinyurl.com/3nr3jy9a. (After registering, participants will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.)

Cyndi Celeste is a spoken word poet, storyteller and creative entrepreneur based in Barbados. She is an arts activist and language advocate who uses performance poetry and literature to encourage social discourse on issues of identity. Inspired by Barbadian and Caribbean culture, her work seeks to educate as well as entertain, beseeching her audiences to introspection and progressive thought. Cyndi has released a spoken word EP called ‘Cyndicated’ which explores black creative and cultural identity.

Jillian Hanesworth was born and raised on the East side of Buffalo, NY. She began writing at the age of 7, when she would write songs for her mother to sing in church. She later took a break from writing to successfully pursue educational goals, and worked to obtain a BA in criminal justice and law focusing on reform.
In January of 2017, Jillian committed herself to social change through art, thus began her poetry career. Since then, Jillian has performed over 200 times, in Buffalo, NY, NYC, Baltimore, MD, Toronto, and everywhere in between. She has let her passion lead her mission empower listeners to take part in demanding and creating sustainable systemic change. Currently, Jillian is the founder of Literary Freedom, LLC, a community activist and organizer and the first ever Poet Laureate in the history of Buffalo after she spent 2 years advocating for the existence of the role. Jillian loves and lives for the community and exemplifies that in all that she does.

Thursday, October 27, 2022 | 5:00 p.m.
The October 27 “Words Across the Water: Ancestors” program will feature poets Mac Donald Dixon of St. Lucia and Gary Jackson from Topeka, KS. Prof. Simon Lewis of the College of Charleston will be the moderator. The event is free on Zoom, but pre-registration required at https://tinyurl.com/4wur774v. (Shortly after registering, a link will be sent to your email containing the credentials and information for logging into the event program on October 27, 5 pm.)

Mac Donald Dixon was born in St. Lucia, West Indies. At the age of sixteen, browsing through shelves at the college library, he stumbled on “Twenty-Five Poems” by Derek Walcott and knew from that moment he would write. Despite having written several short stories and plays and novels, he is best known for his poetry. His work has appeared in the following publications – BIM Magazine, Link Magazine, Caribbean Quarterly (CQ), West Indian Writer, Callaloo, Poetry International, Wasafari, Caribbean New Wave Contemporary Short Stories, The Oxford Book of Caribbean Verse, Agenda and RBL. In 1994, his country honored him with the Saint Lucia medal of merit for his contribution to literature and photography, and in 2005 he was awarded the Cultural Development Foundation’s (CDF) national arts lifetime achievement award. He is also an accomplished dramatist, painter, and photographer.

Born and raised in Topeka, Kansas, Gary Jackson is the author of the poetry collections origin story (University of New Mexico Press, 2021) and Missing You, Metropolis (Graywolf Press, 2010), which received the 2009 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. He’s also the co-editor of The Future of Black: Afrofuturism, Black Comics, and Superhero Poetry (Blair Publishing, 2021). His poems have appeared in numerous journals including Callaloo, The Sun, Los Angeles Review of Books, and Copper Nickel. He’s received fellowships and residencies from Cave Canem, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and Art Omi. He’s published work in Shattered: The Asian American Comics Anthology and was featured in the 2013 New American Poetry Series by the Poetry Society of America. He’s an associate professor in English and creative writing at the College of Charleston where he’s currently the Director of Undergraduate Creative Writing and teaches in the MFA program and serves as the Poetry editor of swamp pink.

Since joining the College of Charleston in 1996, Simon Lewis has been the English department’s world literature specialist, teaching classes in African and postcolonial literature. In addition, he has held a variety of administrative positions, including director of African Studies, interim director of African American Studies and associate dean in the School of Languages, Cultures, and World Affairs. Through a more than 20-year association with the Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World program, Lewis has promoted scholarship and public discussion of the history and culture of the Lowcountry region and its connections to the Atlantic World. He has published widely on East and South African literature and is editor of Illuminations: An International Magazine of Contemporary Writing, which has published poets from all over the world, from Argentina to Zimbabwe.

Thursday, November 17, 2022 | 5:00 p.m.
The November 17 “Words Across the Water: Celebrations” program will feature Marcus Amaker and Celia Sorhaindo. The event is free on Zoom, but pre-registration required at https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZMvdOyurz0vEta1j9wLcpLaYeyB8Z22Gv1Z. (Shortly after registering, a link will be sent to your email containing the credentials and information for logging into the event program on November 17, 5 pm.)

Marcus Amaker was named Charleston, SC’s first Poet Laureate in 2016. In 2021, he became an Academy of American Poets fellow. He’s also the award-winning graphic designer of a national music journal (No Depression), an electronic musician, an opera librettist, the creator of a poetry festival, and a mentor. His poetry has been recognized by The Washington Post, The Kennedy Center, American Poets Magazine, The Washington National Opera, The Portland Opera, Button Poetry, NPR,  The Chicago Tribune, Edutopia, Departures Magazine, People’s World, PBS Newshour, SC Public Radio, Charleston Magazine, Charleston City Paper, North Dakota Quarterly, Post and Courier, Charleston Scene and several other publications.

Celia Alexandra Sorhaindo was born in The Commonwealth of Dominica, West Indies; a small, mountainous, volcanic, “Nature” island (often mistaken for The Dominican Republic). She left Dominica when she was 8 years, lived many years in the UK and returned home in 2005. She was an organising committee member of the Nature Island Literary Festival for several years and, from 2014 to 2017, was the Dominica Link for Hands Across the Sea, a US based non-profit organisation which aims to help raise child literacy levels in the Eastern Caribbean. Her poems have been published in Verse Daily, Illuminations: An International Magazine of Contemporary Writing, Magma, Lolwe, Wasafiri Magazine, Mslexia, Rattle Magazine, Anomaly, The Caribbean Writer, Moko on-line Magazine, BIM, Interviewing The Caribbean Journal, Susumba’s Book Bag, PREE Magazine, New Daughters of Africa (an international anthology of writing by women of African descent) and Disaster Matters: Disasters Matter (a student text book anthology). One of her poems was also long-listed for the UK National Poetry Competition 2017/18.

The moderator for the evening will be Angelo Geter. an award-winning poet, educator, author and performance artist based in Rock Hill, SC.  Known in the spoken word world as “EyeAmBic”, Geter’s work touches on a variety of issues including social justice, race, grief, character and manhood.  Over the course of his career Geter has amassed several accolades and recognitions.  He currently serves as the Poet Laureate of Rock Hill, SC, and is a 2020 Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow. Geter is a 2018 National Poetry Slam champion, Rustbelt Regional Poetry Slam finalist, and Southern Fried Regional Poetry Slam finalist  He is also the Founder and Director of One Word Poetry Festival; a five-day celebration of poetry with readings, open mics, competitions and performances. His work has appeared on All Def Poetry, Charleston Currents, Gratefulness.com, and the Academy of American Poets “Poem a Day” series. His debut collection More God Than Dead was released in June 2022.  

Thursday, February 9, 2023 | 5:00 p.m.
Celebrating Black Voices
The February 9 “Words Across the Water: Celebrations” program will feature Barbara Jenkins and Shirley Fields-Martin. Karey Perkins will be the moderator. The event is free, but pre-registration required at https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZMvdOyurz0vEta1j9wLcpLaYeyB8Z22Gv1Z. (After registering, a link will be sent to your email containing the credentials and information for logging into the program.)

Barbara Jenkins was born in Trinidad. She studied at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, and at the University College, Cardiff. She completed her MFA at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine, Trinidad, in 2012. Since she started writing in 2008, her stories have won many awards, including the Commonwealth Short Story Prize Caribbean Region in 2010 and 2011; and the Wasafiri New Writing Prize. In 2013 she was named winner of the inaugural Hollick Arvon Caribbean Writers Prize. Her debut short story collection, Sic Transit Wagon (Peepal Tree, 2013) was awarded the Guyana Prize for Literature Caribbean Award. Her debut novel, De Rightest Place (Peepal Tree, 2018) was shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature Christopher Bland Prize. Her memoir, The Stranger Who Was Myself is available directly from her publisher (https://www.peepaltreepress.com )She spends her time reading, writing, singing in a choir, serving on the boards of two NGOs and seeing in person and virtually her globally-scattered three children and nine grandchildren.

Writer and fine arts administrator Shirley Fields-Martin’s first book of poetry Rise Up My Soul and Speak combines the author’s original poetry, centered on themes of self-reflection, personal evolution, private meditations, and topical political realizations spanning the period from 1978-2022. Her work is available at https://shirleymartinarts.com/ Proceeds from the sale will help support the projects and programs offered by the Skipp Pearson Foundation

Karey Lea Perkins has taught literature, writing, and philosophy for over thirty years. She holds a BA in English and a BA in Religion from Wake Forest University, an MA in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and an MA in Philosophy and a PhD in English from Georgia State University. She writes, presents, and publishes in her specialty areas of contemporary American and Southern literature, including its intersection with philosophy. Her chapter on semiotics is published in the anthology, Walker Percy, Philosopher and she is co-editer of Symbol & Existence: A Study in Meaning by Walker Percy. She has served as Hardwick Fellow at the Institute for Studies in Pragmaticism. As Assistant Professor at South Carolina State University, she regularly teaches upper-level literature courses with intersectional emphases, such as Women’s Writing and Modern American Poetry.

All events will be on Zoom and will start at 5 pm. Registration information will be updated several weeks in advance of the program date. For more information contact Dr. Thomas Cassidy at tcassidy@scsu.edu.

The mission of SC Humanities is to enrich the cultural and intellectual lives of all South Carolinians. Established in 1973, this 501(c) 3 organization is governed by a volunteer 21-member Board of Directors comprised of community leaders from throughout the state. It presents and/or supports literary initiatives, lectures, exhibits, festivals, publications, oral history projects, videos and other humanities-based experiences that directly or indirectly reach more than 250,000 citizens annually.

Photo by Alin Meceanu on Unsplash