In conjunction with the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street’s traveling exhibit Crossroads: Change in Rural America

A whole panel of the traveling Smithsonian exhibit “Crossroads: Change in Rural America,” is titled “Read About Rural.” Stories about rural America have helped to define us as a nation. We remember the teacher who read us “A Little House on the Prairie.” Rick Bragg had us laughing at ourselves. When our book club read Marilynn Robinson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Gilead,” we were reminded how history lives through generations. Rural literature helps define our sense of place and inspired these events this January at the Newberry Opera House.

Speaker: Southern Author Tom Poland – January 22 @ 11:00 A.M. “Lost Traditions of the South”
7:00 P.M. “SC Backroads” – Newberry County Passport Launched
Tom PolandAs part of this special traveling exhibit, author Tom Poland will present two talks on January 22 at the Newberry Opera House (1201 McKibben St. Newberry). There is limited space at the 11:00 A.M. educational event called "Lost Traditions of the South." At 7:00 P.M., join Tom for a discussion of "SC Backroads" followed by a book signing.
Tom Poland is the author of fourteen books and more than 2,000 magazine features and columns. Tom writes about the South, its people, culture, land, natural wealth, and beautiful detritus—ruins and abandoned places. He travels back roads looking for forgotten places, captivating people, and vestiges of bygone times.
Tom Poland will help launch the Newberry County Passport. Inspired by the SC Agriculture Passport that showcases Certified SC Product locations, the first Leadership Newberry class was inspired to create a “passport” for Newberry County that would showcase the many things to see and do in Newberry County. Come get a passport at the 7:00 P.M. presentation on January 22 then get out into the county and go explore – find the historical markers, play at the recreation locations, attend an art venue event, or check out a festival.
These Tom Poland talks are free and no tickets are required. Seating is on a first come, first serve basis and will begin approximately 45 minutes prior to the events.
Our Prince of Scribes Panel: Remembering Pat Conroy – January 23 @ 7:00 P.M.
Our Prince of Tides book coverFew authors have helped to define life in SC better than Pat Conroy. The Pat Conroy Literary Center, Director Jonathan Haupt, and co-editor of “Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy” Nicole Seitz are proud to host a panel discussion at the Newberry Opera House on Wednesday, January 23, 2019, at 7:00 P.M.
67 authors contributed to the new release about Pat Conroy’s connection with not only his reading audience but also fellow writers. In Newberry, the panel will include Washington Post Pulitzer Prize-winning author Kathleen Parker, political policy and communications professional John Connor Cleveland, history archivist and former classmate of Conroy Alexia Jones Helsley, educator and Conroy sibling Tim Conroy.
Tickets for the event are $17 (fees apply at checkout) and are available at or by calling 803-276-6264. Copies of “Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy” will be available for purchase in the Opera House lobby at the event.
Communal Pen: Writing Workshop – January 19 @ 10:00 A.M.
Crossroads: Change in Rural America as a springboard for igniting our own stories, giving voice to our shared and individual experience of place. The Communal Pen workshop will be held at the Newberry Art Center (1202 Main St. Newberry) on Saturday, January 19 at 10:00 A.M. The writing process can itself help us to awaken and preserve thoughts and traditions, offering insight, understanding, and respect to present and future generations. This three-hour writing workshop draws inspiration from the Smithsonian exhibit. SC Arts Commission facilitators Eboni Ramm and Michelle Ross will lead participants to “talk on paper” about memories, stories, and traditions of place.
EboniRammDeeply rooted in South Carolina, Communal Pen co-facilitator, Eboni Ramm is a gifted vocalist known for her special blend of timeless jazz classics with a pinch of poetry. Her publication Within His Star: The Story of Levi Pearson celebrates the ancestor who added strength to the unprecedented Brown vs. The Board of Education case.



michelle ross

Communal Pen co-facilitator Michelle Ross is a folklorist and adjunct faculty in anthropology at the University of South Carolina Sumter. She holds an M.A. from the Folk Studies and Anthropology Department at Western Kentucky University. She helped establish the SC Center for Oral Narrative. For the past five years, she has been working on telling her Pontian Greek family’s refugee story, her most important project to date.

No experience is necessary and the event is free, however, pre-registration is recommended since space is limited. Please register online or by calling 803-771-2477.

The “Crossroads: Change in Rural America” exhibit will be on display at the Newberry Opera House through February 2. Call 803-276-6264 or visit for more information.