NPR’s Morning Edition has just posted a new story about my poem for the state inauguration. From the story, “I really believe that our history is part of what’s holding us back as kind of an unhealed wound and we’re all in this together.”
I spoke with the Statehouse Report about my inauguration poem and the wider issue of South Carolina’s relationship with its artistic and literary community. “It certainly is a statement about their ideology. The arts are of no value.”
South Carolina’s state newspaper is also covering the fallout over Hailey’s decision to cut my poem from the ceremony. Quoted from the article- “Clearly the last few months in this country have really shown us there are huge issues about race and a lot of pain and a lot of confusion.”
New York Times response to Re “Is Poetry Dead? Not if 45 Official Laureates Are Any Indication” (front page, July 28):
As one of the 45 official poets laureate, I feel compelled to say something about Gov. Pat McCrory’s recent choice of Valerie Macon, a self-published author and state employee, as North Carolina’s poet laureate, and her abrupt resignation. It is important that the poet laureate position not be politicized and that a system be in place for the appointment. Ignoring the North Carolina Arts Council, as the governor did, is offensive, especially in a state known for its outstanding literary community.
Lots of people “dabble” in poetry, and that’s great, but it’s not the same as becoming a literary artist. Poetry is an art form that requires enormous effort and craft. Anyone considered for poet laureate should have achieved some level of literary accomplishment and have a record of working in the community and/or organizing literary events.
It is an honor and a privilege for me to serve as South Carolina’s poet laureate. In South Carolina, home of the oldest poetry society in the United States, poetry is flourishing, and as your article reports, it’s a national trend.
Charleston, S.C., July 28, 2014
To the Editor:
There may be many laureates in the land, but that doesn’t lessen the importance of their mission.
Poetry’s role as life preserver may be its greatest function, offering consolation that renders grief and solitude communal. Of course, it can also be great fun, providing playful — even thrilling — adventures on the page.
That’s the view from Kansas, where I am poet laureate serving a two-year term. My duties include giving 20 public readings and discussions a year as well as creating a statewide project — in my case, a weekly poetry column syndicated in newspapers across Kansas. Most important are the conversations about things that matter — nothing less than life and death on earth.
People remember their way back to poems from childhood, and many find their way forward to new poems that help them navigate adulthood.
The state poet laureateship has particular significance in Kansas, where it was rescued from the ashes of the extinguished arts commission by my predecessor and the humanities council. It is a win-win for the state and its citizens.
Shawnee Mission, Kan., July 28, 2014
Monday Sep. 22
Monday, September 22, 6 p.m.
Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art (161 Calhoun Street, Downtown Charleston)
Featuring writers and artists reading from their favorite banned books
Presenters to include: Marcus Amaker, Herb Frazier, Sharon Graci, Bret Lott, Theodore Rosengarten, Joy Vandervort-Cobb, Marjory Wentworth, and Katherine Williams.
Contact: Emily Everett, Charleston Friends of the Library
Sunday October 5, 2014
October Poetrio Poets at Malaprop’s. 3:00-4:00 p.m.
55 Haywood Street
Asheville, NC 28801
Friday-Sunday Oct. 10-12, 2014 Southern Festival of Books: A Celebration of the Written Word in Nashville. http://www.humanitiestennessee.org/programs/southern-festival-books-celebration-written-word
Friday 10 OCT 2014
12:00-1:30 pm NPL 3rd Floor Program Room
Two Poets Are Better Than One: Collaborative Writing
Maggi Britton Vaughn, Marjory Wentworth, Joyce Brinkman, Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda
Tuesday, Oct. 21, 7 – 9 p.m. Poems: Bones of the Spirit, vol. 6
Reading with Barbara Gervais Street Hagerty and Susan Laughter Meyers
Sun Spirit Yoga Wellness
735 Meeting St., West Columbia, SC 29169
Friday-Saturaday November 7, 8 2014
Spirit and Place Festival, “A Poetic Journey Through Urban America”
Presented by Brick Street Poetry Inc. and DePauw University’s Janet Prindle Institute for Ethics for the 2014 Spirit & Place Festival, Greencastle, IN www.spiritandplace.org/Festival.aspx?access=Events
Friday Nov. 21-Sunday Nov. 23, 2014 Words & Music Festival
New Orleans, http://wordsandmusic.org
April 8-15, 2015
AWP Conference, Association of Writers & Writing Programs
Minneapolis, Minnesota Minneapolis Convention Center & Hilton Minneapolis Hotel
Palmetto Poetry Series: McManus, Pineda, Simmonds & Wentworth, Palmetto Poetry Series: McManus, Pineda, Simmonds & Wentworth, https://www.awpwriter.org/
Sat. April 11, 2015
Induction South Carolina Academy of Authors, Charleston, SC
So sad to hear of Maya Angelou’s passing. When asked by ABC 4 in Charleston, I had this to say, “She came out of this difficult situation and yet her work is so affirming and hopeful”. Read more about what I had to say at ABC4’s site.
The University of South Carolina has started a new book series of poetry. I am honored to sit on its board, along with Kwame Dawes, Terrance Hayes, Charlene Spearen and Ray McManus. Read USC’s announcement on The State’s site about this new series. We are looking for submissions from other South Carolina poets, as well!
Charleston City Paper has a review up for my latest book, New and Selected Works. Elizabeth Pandolfi writes that “New and Selected Poems marks a sort of return to poetry for Wentworth, though she’s never stopped writing verse.” Check out the full review at the Charleston City Paper.
After the rain, outside
the barred windows
of the classroom
tiny black birds
are bathing in puddles
beneath the oak trees.
Dipping into the icy water,
they shake their feathers
with such joy that their song
pulls us from our seats—
out onto the steps
where my students and I
walk into the first sunlight
we’ve felt for days
to watch them dance.
The birds remind me
of the Chinese peasants
I read about in college.
Sitting in the sunshine
on the first day of spring,
after cutting the quilted
clothes they were sewn
into for the long winter,
they gathered outside
to pick fleas from the sour
cotton lining of their jackets
and flick them at each other;
ducking and laughing
in the bright air,
while their children
ran naked into a pond
filled with melting snow.
“Spring” by Marjory Wentworth from New and Selected Poems. © The University of South Carolina Press, 2014. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
Schedule of Events for Spring-Fall 2014:
Sunday March 23 4:00 p.m. Book launch/Reading with Lisa Starr, Blue Bicycle Books, 420 King St., Charleston, SC. www.bluebicyclebooks.com. RSVP 722-266.
Thursday March 27 7:00 p.m. Poets with New Books reading LILA, Write Charleston! Circular Church, 150 Meeting St, Charleston. www.lilaconnects.com.
Friday April 4, 2014 Litchfield Books Moveable Feast Book and Author Lunch. Seaview Inn, 11:00 a.m. In store Signing at 2:00 p.m. 11421 Ocean Hwy, Fresh Market Commons, Pawleys Island, South Carolina 29585. Tel: 843.237.8138, Litchfieldbooks.com.
Monday April 7. 7:00 p.m. The Word Works Cafe Muse. Poetry Reading with Barbara Hagerty, author of Twinzilla. Friendship Heights Village Center is a five-minute walk from the Friendship Heights Metro Rail Stop at 4433 South Park Avenue, Chevy Chase, Maryland. For further information call: 301 656-2797.
Tuesday April 8th Montgomery College Reading, Germantown campus – library. Guest speaker at Writer’s Coffee House, which will run from 6-7:30. You will read for about 20-25 minutes at the beginning of that time period. For more information contact Katherine Smith (301) 807-6930. http://cms.montgomerycollege.edu/edu/maps.aspx?id=23554
April 10-13 Block Island Poetry Project, Block Island, RI. Workshops and readings with poet Carol Ann Davis. For further information, see http://www.bipoetryproject.com/ABOUT-BIPP.html.
Friday April 18, 2014 Speaker @ the Center: South Carolina State Library Center for the Book. Noon-1:00 p.m. South Carolina State Library at 1500 Senate St. Columbia, SC. Admission is Free. Bring your lunch. http://www.statelibrary.sc.gov/center-announces-springsummer-2014-speaker-series.
Friday April 25th Author Luncheon with Barbara Hagerty, author of Twinzilla. Blue Bicycle Books Book and Author Series, Halls Chophouse, 434 King Street, Charleston, SC. To order tickets or for further information see http://bluebicyclebooks.com.
Saturday May 10 3:00 -4:00 p.m. Greenville Public Library (Hughes Main Library), Reading and Book signing. 25 Heritage Green Place, Greenville, SC. 864-527-9293.
May 16 – 18,2014 SC Book Festival, The Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, Columbia, SC. scbookfestival.org. 803-771-2477.
August 3-13 L.E.A.P. for Ghana
October 5 3:00 p.m. Poetrio Series at Malaprops Bookstore and Café, 55 Haywood St., Asheville, NC 28801, http://www.malaprops.com/event/poetrio,1-800-441-9829.
November 20-24. Words & Music A Literary Feast in New Orleans, www.wordsandmusic.org.