South Carolina Arts Commission

South Carolina Arts Commission

South Carolina Poet Laureate

Upon the recommendation of qualified candidates by the South Carolina Arts Commission, the governor shall name and appoint an outstanding and distinguished person of letters as poet laureate for the State of South Carolina.

The position is for a term of four years and until a successor has been appointed and qualified. A poet laureate is eligible for reappointment one time.

Applications for South Carolina Poet Laureate are not currently being accepted.

The Position

An applicant must:

  • Be a legal resident of the U.S. and South Carolina with a permanent residence in the state for at least one (1) year prior to the application deadline (twelve consecutive months) and throughout the period of service;
  • Be 18 years of age or older at the time of application;
  • Not be a degree-seeking, full-time student during the period of service.

Please note:

  • A background and credit check will be run for all poet laureate finalists.

Applications for South Carolina Poet Laureate are not currently being accepted.


All complete applications will be adjudicated by a panel of poets and poet laureates from outside South Carolina. After review of all applications received, the panel’s scores will narrow the applications to a select group that will be submitted to the governor’s office for interviews. The governor will select the poet laureate.

Applications will be accepted through Submittable. All applicants must have an active account in Submittable and complete the application themselves. Nominations will not be accepted.

Applicants will be required to upload samples of work, letters of recommendation, and resume/CV. Multiple file types will be accepted.

NARRATIVE QUESTIONS
  • Biographical information
  • Ability and willingness to serve in response to the requests of the Governor over the four-year term
  • How written body of work has been informed by living in South Carolina
  • Published work (can include books, journals, e-journals – published or self-published)
  • Special honors, awards, or receipts of recognition
  • Public readings or recitations delivered in the past
  • Previous collaborations with arts, educational, or humanities entities (nonprofit, business, or school)
ATTACHMENTS/UPLOADS
  • Resume or CV
  • Sample material (5 minimum, 10 maximum): published work (can include books, journals, e-journals – published or self-published)
  • Sample material (2 minimum, 5 maximum): Representative of how written body of work has been informed by living in South Carolina
  • Sample material (3 minimum, 5 maximum): Signed/dated professional letters of recommendation. Letters should address caliber of work of applicant and how living in South Carolina impacts applicant’s work
    • Letters of support cannot come from panelists or representatives of the Arts Commission or Governor’s Office

Marjory Heath Wentworth (2003–2020)
Appointed by Mark Sanford

Marjory Wentworth is the New York Times bestselling author of Out of Wonder, Poems Celebrating Poets (with Kwame Alexander and Chris Colderley). She is the co-writer of We Are Charleston, Tragedy and Triumph at Mother Emanuel, with Herb Frazier and Dr. Bernard Powers and Taking a Stand, The Evolution of Human Rights, with Juan E. Mendez.  She is co-editor with Kwame Dawes of Seeking, Poetry and Prose inspired by the Art of Jonathan Green, and the author of the prizewinning children’s story Shackles.  Her books of poetry include Noticing Eden, Despite Gravity, The Endless Repetition of an Ordinary Miracle, and New and Selected Poems. Her poems have been nominated for The Pushcart Prize seven times. She served as the poet laureate of South Carolina from 2003-2020. Wentworth is on the Board of Advisors at The Global Social Justice Practice Academy, and she is a 2020 National Coalition Against Censorship Free Speech is for Me Advocate. She teaches courses in writing, poetry, social justice and banned books at The College of Charleston (marjorytwentworth.net).


Bennie Lee Sinclair (1986–2000)
Appointed by Richard Wilson Riley

Grace Beacham Freeman (1985–1986)
Appointed by Richard Wilson Riley

Ennis Rees (1984–1985)
Appointed by Richard Wilson Riley

Helen von Kolnitz Hyer (1974–1983)
Appointed by John C. West

Archibald Rutledge (1934–1973)
Appointed by Ibra Charles Blackwood

If you are seeking advisement before submitting an application, please contact Program Director for Artist Services Ce Scott-Fitts (803.734.8203 | cscottfitts@arts.sc.gov).