The festival, whose origins date to the Pat Conroy at 70 birthday celebration in October 2015 before his death the following March, embraces themes from his work and expands the conversation to include larger discussions of literature, life and culture, the Pat Conroy Literary Center said in a news release.
This year’s theme is “Taking the Transformative Power of Education.” It will honor Conroy as student, teacher and mentor through a weekend of writer panels, readings, signings, workshops, tours, film screenings, live performances, receptions, a children’s book fair and other events presented in partnership with the University of South Carolina Beaufort’s Center for the Arts.
“Through the character of Tom Wingo in ‘The Prince of Tides,’ Pat wrote that there was ‘no word in the language I revere more than teacher,’ and this year’s festival is our opportunity to honor some of those teachers who meant so much to Pat, to celebrate Pat’s own role as a teacher and student in and well beyond the classroom, and to reflect on the many ways in which education shapes and reshapes all of our lives,” said Jonathan Haupt, the Conroy Center’s executive director.
“Writing was an act of teaching for Pat, and teaching for him was always an act of love — of great love. Our festival will honor that aspect of Pat in the stories we share this year.”
Festival highlights will include:
• A tour of the former Beaufort High School where Conroy was a student and teacher.
• A screening of “The Lords of Discipline” followed by a panel discussion with some of Conroy’s Citadel classmates.
• A performance of the musical “Conrack.”
• An exhibition of photographs by Billy and Paul Keyserling documenting Conroy’s Daufuskie Island teaching experience.
• The debut of a short film by Luke Parker Bowles and Danny Monico about the Conroy Center.
• Appearances by Conroy’s teachers William E. Dufford and Nathalie Dupree, his students Sallie Ann Robinson and Valerie Sayers, his widow and fellow novelist Cassandra King Conroy, his brother Tim and daughter Melissa.
The festival will also include the launch of the paperback edition of “A Lowcountry Heart,” the posthumously published collection of short nonfiction by Conroy; of “Geographies of Terrain,” the first book of poetry from Tim Conroy; and of “My Tour through the Asylum: A Southern Integrationist’s Memoir” by Dufford, Conroy’s Beaufort High principal.
The roster of teaching writers, poets and other guests will include International African American Museum president and Robert Smalls descendant Michael Boulware Moore, Smalls biographer Cate Lineberry, award-winning filmmaker and human rights advocate Bud Ferillo, award-winning artist Wendell Minor, celebrated chefs the Lee brothers and novelist Ann Kidd Taylor.
The Pat Conroy Literary Center was recently recognized as the first affiliate of the American Writers Museum in South Carolina.
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