Town Hall Workshops
2-4 p.m.,
123-B Camp Rd.,
James Island
beside Dollar General

10/20 Kwoya Maples
3/17 Gary Jackson
4/7 Len Lawson
6/2 Marilyn Nelson

Poetry at McLeod
2-4 p.m.,
325 Country Club Dr.,
James Island
beside Dollar General

10/20 Kwoya Maples
3/19 Gary Jackson
4/8 Len Lawson
6/3 Marilyn Nelson



Katherine Williams

Pat Hiott-Mason

Garrett Milliken


Artists’ Liaisons
Sherry Browne
Pat Hiott-Mason

Katherine Williams

Meredith Poston 

Teachers’ Liaison
Laura De La Maza

Council Liaison
Garrett Milliken



Dana Ellis

Mark Huerkamp

Virginia Nieland

Secretary (Interim)
Katherine Williams


Auction, Artists’ Liaison
Pat Hiott-Mason

Auction, Teachers’ Liaison
Laura De La Maza

Meredith Poston 

Inez Brown Crouch 

Poetry at McLeod
Katherine Williams

©2016 James Island Arts

About Poetry at McLeod

Poetry at McLeod is a collaborative project with McLeod Plantation Historic Site to present African American poetry at a site where many James Islanders’ ancestors were enslaved. The poets are invited based on the quality of their poetry and their interest in illuminating slavery. LIstening with 21st-century American ears to enslaved voices on plantation ground is an apt metaphor for the process of reclaiming this complex historical and emotional territory.

In November and June we hosted Dr. Kendra Hamilton, a Charleston native who teaches at Presbyterian College, and writes terrific poems on the lives of the enslaved, such as Mary Todd's seamstress. She led an eye-opening writing workshop on the theme of "I remember," and the next day gave a wonderful reading at McLeod, and signed books afterward in the "big house," where we enjoyed tea and cold cuts provided by Island grocers.

We were able to admit all 65 in attendance with a generous grant from James Island Pride and folks with Gold Passes inviting others. You can help us make the next event free for three other attendees by buying a Gold Pass, allowing admission for four at all Charleston County Parks.

The Poetry at McLeod project aims to present contemporary poetry by Cave Canem poets, acclaimed nationally for their writing, teaching, and performance, on a historic plantation site. Cave Canem is an educational organization promoting African American poetry and poetics. (This project is not affiliated with the Cave Canem organization.) Cave Canem fellows and faculty are mining American history and the English language to create new and transformative portraits of African Americans, and garnering top honors for their art. Among them are South Carolina’s consecutive National Book Award winners Terrance Hayes and Nikki Finney, 2012 US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey, of Atlanta, and Pulitzer Prize 2016 winner Tyehimba Jess. It is safe to say that Cave Canem is to poetry as New Orleans is to music.

McLeod Plantation Historic Site attempts to correct the romantic view of plantation life—since most of the people living on plantations were enslaved—making it the perfect setting for a poetry that makes those enslaved in this era come to life.

Click here to make a donation to this important project.

Calendar 2017-2018

Subject to change

Kendra Hamilton
Saturday, June 17, 2-4 p.m., Town Hall Workshop
Sunday, June 18, 2-4 p.m., Reading and Q&A at McLeod

Kendra Hamilton, a Charleston native, is a professor of English and Director of Southern Studies at Presbyterian College in Clinton, SC. Her poetry appears in The Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry and The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South. A Cave Canem fellow, Dr. Hamilton’s recent art reflects her research into the lives of McLeod slaves.

Gary Jackson
Saturday, March 17, 2-4 p.m., Town Hall Workshop POSTPONED
Sunday, March 18, 2-4 p.m., Reading and Q&A at McLeod
Monday, March 19 North Charleston High School

Born and raised in Topeka, Kansas, Gary Jackson is the author of the poetry collection Missing You, Metropolis, which received the 2009 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. He was featured on 2013’s "New American Poets" by the Poetry Society of America, and his poems have appeared in Callaloo, Tin House, 32 Poems, Crab Orchard Review, and Shattered: The Asian-American Comics Anthology, and is the recipient of both a Cave Canem and Bread Loaf fellowship. He joined the Department of English at the College of Charleston in 2013.

Kwoya Fagin Maples
Friday, October 20 James Island Charter High School
Saturday, October 21, 2-4 p.m., Town Hall Workshop
Sunday, October 22, 2-4 p.m., Reading and Q&A at McLeod

Kwoya Fagin Maples, a graduate Cave Canem fellow, is a Charleston native now teaching in Louisiana, whose manuscript, Mend, treats the lives of enslaved women forced to be medical research subjects.

Len Lawson
Friday, April 6 James Island Elementary School
Saturday, April 7, 2-4 p.m., Town Hall Workshop
Sunday, April 8, 2-4 p.m., Reading and Q&A at McLeod

Len Lawson, of Sumter SC, hosts Cave Canem retreats in SC and is an advocate and organizer of discussions on race. He is studying toward the Ph.D. degree in Pennsylvania. His chap book, Before the Night Wakes You, was just published by Finishing Line Press.

Marilyn Nelson
Friday, June 1 Lowcountry Senior Center
Saturday, June 2, 2-4 p.m., Town Hall Workshop
Sunday, June 3, 2-4 p.m., Reading and Q&A at McLeod

Marilyn Nelson, daughter of a Tuskegee Airman, a founding member of Cave Canem, and finalist for several National Book Awards, has composed extensively on the lives of African Americans, including Emmett Till, George Washington Carver, and a slave named Fortune.