June Message from the President

04 Jun 2021 12:12 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Carrie McCray Nickens (pictured above) is a name you may have heard associated with SCWA and wondered about. Here is her story and why we celebrate her as a major part of SCWA treasured history

When SCWA was created in 1990 as the South Carolina Writers Workshop, McCray Nickens, one of the founding members of the board, already was 77 years old. She had begun writing seriously at the age of 73 and had become a poet and memoirist. Her most famous piece of work, written at the age of 85, was “Freedom’s Child: The Life of a Confederate General’s Black Daughter” (1998), a first-person memoir about her mother. “I never thought of myself as a writer, only a social worker and teacher who loved to write,” she once said. “It took ‘Freedom’s Child’ to do that.”

McCray Nickens was one of South Carolina’s first celebrated Black, female writers. She expressed herself through poems and stories about life – about history, family, culture and the racial tensions and gender bias she experienced. She always was generous with her time and dedicated herself to helping beginning writers.

She once said, “Write for the joy of writing. Don’t be anxious about publishing. It will come. Accept constructive criticism from seasoned authors. It helped me develop my writing. Don’t let anyone discourage you.”*

This guidance shaped the mission of the South Carolina Writers Association – to provide a safe environment to help people become better writers. 
McCray Nickens also was a member of the Board of Governors of the South Carolina Academy of Authors, and in 2009 she was inducted posthumously into the state literary hall of fame. SCWA and the S.C. Academy of Authors proudly co-sponsor the Carrie McCray Nickens Fellowship for Poetry.
McCray Nickens died on July 25, 2008, at the age of 94, only months after having married long-time friend John Nickens. Her papers are held by the special collection division at Furman University in Greenville, S.C. 
I have read her poems and have a copy of “Freedom’s Child.” When I read her writing, I feel privileged to be associated with her, if only in some small way – carrying on McCray Nickens’s tradition, now 31 years after she helped start our association.

*Phebe Davidson, University of South Carolina, Institute for Southern Studies. 08/10/2016

  • Please welcome new board members Cayce LaCorte and Abby Morales. LaCorte is a long-time SCWA supporter and participant. She will direct SCWA’s social media programs. Morales is new to SCWA. She has a background in nonprofits and brings fresh perspectives as a director. Thank you for joining the board!
  • The subcommittee for SCWA Growth through Diversity had a successful initial meeting and has begun formulating plans. Member interest in participating in the committee has been strong and, while we’ve had to cap its size of the group, your input always is welcomed. Please contact Len Lawson at lenvillelaws@gmail.com.
  • The board will conduct a planning session in June to determine the direction on all major SCWA activities for the remainder of 2021 and through 2022. Do you have an opinion on SCWA priorities or any program? Please send it to me at scwritersassociationpresident@gmail.com
  • We’ve changed the board meeting schedule slightly. The June meeting has been rescheduled for 10:30 a.m. Saturday, June 26, in Columbia, and the July meeting will be held virtually at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 27. Remember that we reserve the first part of every meeting to dialogue with members, so please join us. Email scwritersassociationpresident@gmail.com if you would like to attend.
  • Congratulations to board member Paul Davis for being awarded second prize in the 2021 Porter Fleming Literary Competition in the nonfiction category for "When the Heart Hurts."  Well done!
  • Starting in July, we are adding a new segment to the President’s Letter published monthly in The Quill and online at myscwa.org to provide literary compositions from members, board members and guests. Pieces with a maximum of 500 words can be opinion editorials, poems, essays or a piece of writing in any genre. The pieces cannot be commercial, political or offensive. Send your submission for consideration to Laura Corbin at writersassociationsc@gmail.com.
  • Our friends at the Palmetto Literary Council will feature two children’s authors in its July author panel. If you are interested, please contact Patricia D’Ascoli at patricia@palmettoliteracy.org.
Come write with us!

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