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Eighth Annual March Forth to Be Held on March 2 & 3 in Port Royal, Beaufort, and St. Helena Island

The nonprofit Pat Conroy Literary Center’s eighth annual March Forth will be held on Saturday, March 2, and Sunday, March 3. This special event commemorates the anniversary of Pat Conroy’s passing on March 4, 2016, with programs on major themes of his writing and teaching life, including social justice, inclusivity, conservation, education, and storytelling.

Learn more and register in advance at Eventbrite

March Forth will include appearances by novelist Jeffrey Dale Lofton, author of Red Clay Suzie (Longlisted for the Center for Fiction 2023 First Novel Prize); novelist, musician, and educator Brendan Slocumb, author of Symphony of Secrets and The Violin Conspiracy (A Good Morning America Book Club Selection); naturalist and biographer Patrick Dean, author of Nature’s Messenger: Mark Catesby and His Adventures in a New World; award-winning nature photographer Kelley Luikey; Spring Island Trust executive director Andy Jones; National Park Service Ranger Katherine Freeman; and the students of DAYLO.

March Forth is hosted this year by Conroy Center executive director Jonathan Haupt, Conroy Center board member Ginger Olszewski, and Lowcountry Weekly publisher and columnist Margaret Evans.

Free events will be held at the Port Royal Farmers Market and the Conroy Center on Saturday, March 2. A ticketed all-day event (including a catered lunch by award-winning caterer and cookbook author Debbi Covington) will be held at Penn Center on St. Helena Island on Sunday, March 3. Books by presenting authors will be available for sale and signing through NeverMore Books.

March Forth is presented in collaboration between the nonprofit Pat Conroy Literary Center and Penn Center, NeverMore Books, Lowcountry Pride, the Port Royal Farmers Market, the Reconstruction Era National Historic Park, the Rhett House Inn, MarshSong Cottage, Catering by Debbi Covington, and DAYLO (Diversity Awareness Youth Literacy Organization), and sponsored in part by the Pulpwood Queens Book Club.

~SCHEDULE OF EVENTS~

TEDDY BEAR PICNIC READ-ALOUD and READ WITH A RANGER at the PORT ROYAL FARMERS MARKET on SATURDAY, MARCH 2
9:30-Noon. Student volunteers from local chapters of DAYLO will be reading children’s picture books to young readers and their families, with light snacks provided. DAYLO students will be joined by National Park Service Ranger Katherine Freeman from the Reconstruction Era National Historic Park for a special read-aloud, Read with a Ranger. This free event will be held near the gazebo at the Port Royal Farmers Market (1615 Ribaut Rd, Port Royal). No registration needed.

AN AFTERNOON WITH JEFFREY DALE LOFTON, AUTHOR OF RED CLAY SUZIE, at the CONROY CENTER on SATURDAY, MARCH 2
2:00-3:30 p.m. Award-winning writer Jeffrey Dale Lofton will discuss his debut novel Red Clay Suzie (Longlisted for the Center for Fiction 2023 First Novel Prize) at the Conroy Center (601 Bladen St., Beaufort), presented in collaboration with Lowcountry Pride. Books will be available for sale and signing through NeverMore Books. Seating is limited for this free event; please register in advance at 843-379-7025.

TICKETED MARCH FORTH EVENTS at PENN CENTER on SUNDAY, MARCH 3
9:30-10:00 a.m. Attendee check-in.
10:00-11:30 a.m. Birding and nature walk of Penn Center led by naturalist and Spring Island Trust and Lowcountry Institute executive director Andy Jones.
11:30 to Noon. Catered lunch by Debbi Covington. (Register in advance by February 26 for lunch. Day-of registrations may be possible without lunch.)
Noon to 1:00 p.m. Novelist, musician, and educator Brendan Slocumb, author of Symphony of Secrets and The Violin Conspiracy (A Good Morning America Book Club Selection) in conversation with Conroy Center Executive Director Jonathan Haupt, presented with the generous support of the Pulpwood Queens Book Club.
1:00 to 1:20 p.m. Book signing break with NeverMore Books.
1:20 to 2:20 p.m. Naturalist and biographer Patrick Dean, author of Nature’s Messenger: Mark Catesby and His Adventures in a New World, in conversation with Lowcountry Weekly publisher and columnist Margaret Evans.
2:20-2:40 p.m. Book signing break with NeverMore Books.
2:40-3:40 p.m. A special slideshow presentation by award-winning nature photographer, naturalist, and educator Kelley Luikey.
3:40-4:00 p.m. Closing remarks.

~ABOUT OUR PRESENTERS~
Patrick DeanPatrick Dean writes on the outdoors and the environment. He has worked as a teacher, a political media director, and is presently the executive director of a rail-trail nonprofit. An avid trail-runner, paddler, and mountain-biker, he lives with his wife and dogs on the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee. Dean is the author of A Window to Heaven, about the summit of Denali, and Nature’s Messenger: Mark Catesby and His Adventures in a New World.

 

Andy JonesDr. Andy Jones, executive director of the Spring Island Trust and Lowcountry Institute, is a lifelong naturalist, with a passion for the biodiversity of the Southeast. He studied biological sciences at the University of Tennessee, and completed his PhD on the evolutionary history of Philippine birds at the University of Minnesota. From 2006 until early 2022, he served curator of ornithology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. He has also served as a board member and on the research committee of Black Swamp Bird Observatory, as a board member of Winous Point Marsh Conservancy, and as Secretary of the American Ornithological Society. He has been recognized as a Fellow of the American Ornithological Society for his contributions to ornithology.

Jeffrey Dale LoftonJeffrey Dale Lofton is a senior advisor at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. A veteran stage actor turned debut novelist, he is the author of Red Clay Suzie, written through his personal lens growing up an outsider figuring out life and love in a conservative family and community in the Deep South. The novel was Longlisted for the Center for Fiction 2023 First Novel Prize).

 

Kelley LuikeyKelley Luikey is an award-winning photographer, educator, and Master Naturalist. Her photography consistently ranks in the Top 100 Images for national and international competitions such as the National Audobon Society and North American Nature Photographers Association. Her work hangs in private homes and offices across the country, has appeared in numerous publications–including National Audubon Society magazine and the cover of Garden and Gun magazine. Through her work, she hopes to inspire others to appreciate and preserve the beauty of the Lowcountry. Luikey resides in Port Royal with her husband and two children. She currently exhibits at Pluff Mudd Art in Bluffton and MacDonald Marketplace in Beaufort.

Brendan SlocumbBrendan Slocumb is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a degree in music education, concentrations on Violin and Viola. For the past two decades, he has been a public and private school music educator from kindergarten through twelfth grade, teaching general music, orchestra, and guitar ensembles. His students were often chosen for district and regional orchestras. In 2005, Brendan was named Teacher of the Year for Robert E. Lee High School; he has been named to Who’s Who of American teachers, and is a Nobel Teacher of distinction. Brendan also serves as an educational consultant for the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. He is the author of two novels: The Violin Conspiracy (a selection of the Good Morning America Book Club) and the recently released Symphony of Secrets.

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