Fans crowd outside a packed downtown coffee house on a rainy night, straining to catch the cadence of voices inside. But this isn’t a concert—it’s Monday Night Blues, a literary celebration of nuance and proof positive that poetry’s hot in the Holy City. There are no berets in sight (just one fedora and many gray hairs) for tonight’s open mic. And these literati cross paths again and again, at readings, writing groups, and private gatherings.
It’s no surprise, as poetry is in our DNA; the Poetry Society of South Carolina, formed in 1921, still hosts events and competitions. Crazyhorse, a respected literary journal, originates here. We even have a poet laureate. “I swear, there’s a poetry event every night,” says Marjory Wentworth, South Carolina Poet Laureate and diehard supporter of the form.
Why so hot right now? Maybe poetry’s renaissance relates to the salve words can have on a soul. Modern life requires adept translators. And why Charleston? Perhaps Pat Conroy can answer that: “My wound is geography. It is also my anchorage, my port of call.”