National Poetry Month

Cover image of Dave the Potter

April is National Poetry Month, and South Carolina is bursting with verse! This month’s book display showcases our state’s poetic variety, from our award-winning authors to brand-new voices.  

Traveling Mercy. Jennifer Bartell Boykin is the Columbia poet laureate and this is her first published collection. Her poems capture her experiences of growing up Black in South Carolina through evocative language that doesn’t shy away from joy or sorrow. Come see Bartell Boykin give a live talk for our Center for the Book, April 25 at 6p.m.!

I Could Strangle the Wind: An Anthropology of Prison Poetry. This is an anthology of poems written by inmates from South Carolina correctional institutes sponsored by the SC Arts Commission. It highlights the wide variety of human experiences from those who otherwise would not get a chance to voice them. Search our catalog and digital library for more inmate poetry anthologies.

Head Off & Split: Poetry. Nikki Finney is a native South Carolina poet who has written a number of books centered on her experiences in the state. This volume won the National Book Award for Poetry in 2011, as well as a number of other prizes. Finney says the title comes from an evocative phrase she heard at a Lowcountry fish market, and the rest of the poems show equal attention to phrases that Finney uses to show familiar things in new perspectives. Search our catalog and digital library for more of Finney’s work.

Mama’s Magic: Performance Poetry is not just a written medium. This VHS cassette captures the performance poetry of Glenis Redmond, who is the First Poet Laureate of Greenville, SC. She uses her voice and acting skills to make her poems come alive as characters in their own right, and she interviews her family members to add context to her own perspectives. 

You Can Even Eat the Rhyme: Student Poetry Anthology, Arts in Motion Project. In the 1970s and 1980s, the South Carolina Arts Commission helped SC students put together a number of poetry anthologies through their Arts in Motion Project. These volumes showcase budding poets from early elementary to late high school with their unique insights into life. The poems range from short and funny to long and introspective and everything in between, encompassing the students’ full range of expressions in ways that encourage the reader to as well. Each anthology has a different title and cover art, so search our catalog and digital collection for more.

The Yearbook of the Poetry Society of South Carolina, 2023: The Poetry Society of South Carolina is the oldest state poetry society in the country. They are a literary group that supports poetry in SC through a number of programs and writing support tools, including annual prizes. This book is their latest collection of award winners and other poetry from their members, plus more information about the society’s various initiatives. 

Poems in Honor of South Carolina Tricentennial. Archibald Rutledge was South Carolina’s first poet laureate. In 1970, he published this collection of poems honoring 300 years of state history. His work often focused on his love of the outdoors, and he brings that pastoral tone to his celebration of SC.

Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave. This children’s book is a lovely exploration of South Carolina artist David Drake. He was a slave who lived in Edgefield and became renowned for both the clay pots he created and the poems he inscribed onto them. This Caldecott award winning combination of art and words honors Dave’s legacy and introduces young readers to his inspirational work. 

Upcoming Event

Image of The Dubber playing the Richland County Library

Modern Day Bluesman, THE Dubber

June 28, 2024, 7:30 PM

Join us at the South Carolina Center for the Book for a histo-musical performance from THE Dubber as we celebrate African American Musical Month.