Ed Madden

Former Columbia City Poet Laureate Ed Madden, author of the new collection of poetry A Pooka in Arkansas, will be the featured author at the August 10 Open Mic Night, hosted by the nonprofit Pat Conroy Literary Center in partnership with the South Carolina Writers Association and the Beaufort County Black Chamber of Commerce.

Recent Beaufort High School graduates Mickey Thompson and Christine Conte, the winner and finalist respectively of the Ann Head Prize for Short Story, will also be reading from their award-winning stories as part of the Open Mic. Madden, Thompson, and Conte will be joined by local writers in many genres reading from their individual works for 3-5 minutes each, culminating in the readings from the featured writers.

Open Mic Night will be held downstairs at the Beaufort County Black Chamber of Commerce, 711 Bladen St., Beaufort, on

McKenzie Thompson

Thursday, August 10, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. This event is free and open to the public. Copies of A Pooka in Arkansas will be available for sale and signing after the readings.

Writers interested in reading during open mic can sign up in advance by emailing contact@patconroyliterarycenter.org.

About the featured writer: Ed Madden is the author of four other books and four chapbooks of poetry, most recently Ark, about his father’s last months in hospice care, and So they can sing, which won the 2016 Robin Becker Chapbook Prize. He is a professor of English and the former director of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of South Carolina, where he teaches Irish literature, queer studies, and creative writing. From 2015 through 2022, he served as the poet laureate for the City of Columbia, SC. He is recipient of an Academy of

Christine Conte

American Poets Laureate Fellowship and artist residencies at the Hambidge Center in Georgia and the Instituto Sacatar in Itaparica, Brazil.

Madden’s new collection, A Pooka in Arkansas, explores growing up queer in the fundamentalist South and was selected by poet Timothy Liu for the Hilary Tham Capital Collection. Liu praised, “This book flies in the face of making the rough places plain and the crooked straight. You won’t have to have grown up queer in the deep rural South to be touched by the lyrical antics that go on here, this alternative gospel spreading its haunches till every knee bow, every tongue confess, this chorus of Hallelujah inflected/infected by its own down and dirty twang.”

Learn more about the nonprofit Pat Conroy Literary Center at www.patconroyliterarycenter.org, or visit the Conroy Center in person at 601 Bladen Street, Thursday through Sunday, noon to 4:00 p.m.