As Pat Conroy closed out his three-day birthday celebration last year, he marveled at his connection with readers throughout the years.
“I brought you to this place tonight because something about my work touched you and something about you coming has touched me to the quick of my soul,” Conroy said on stage at USCB Center for the Arts. “And I cannot thank you enough.”
The late Beaufort author, who died of cancer March 4, will continue bringing people to his city. The inaugural Pat Conroy Literary Festival will be held Oct. 20-22 in Beaufort, according to the “Pat Conroy at 70” Facebook page.
Details are still to come, but the event follows the successful birthday bash and literary festival that marked Conroy turning 70 last year. Southern authors and their books, literary experts, artists and Conroy’s family and friends were among those who attended.
Poetry readings, book signings, a screening of “The Great Santini” and a family roundtable discussion made up last year’s festival.
“Literary pilgrims” from all over traveled to Beaufort for the event, Jonathan Haupt, director of the University of South Carolina Press, wrote this month for The Beaufort Gazette and The Island Packet.
Conroy’s unscripted thanks to readers, family and friends for his writer’s life as a closing address felt like history in the making, Haput noted.
“Pat Conroy will never die out,” Haupt wrote. “It’s now up to all of us, readers and writers alike, to see to that. That poem (’For the Last Wolverine’) also includes the powerful call to action, ‘let something come from it, something gigantic, legendary.’ That’s what we must do for Pat, as he most certainly did it for us.”
The festival will include “The Cigar Factory,” a novel by Michele Moore published by Story River Books, Conroy’s imprint at USC Press, according to a Facebook post. Conroy wrote the book’s foreword.
Other details are yet to come, pending securing presenters, features and a date for ticket sales, Haupt said.
Last year’s event “filled up Beaufort,” Mayor Billy Keyserling said, and drew visitors from throughout the country.
“It’s a good substantive, cultural event,” he said. “Its size and scope and its message fit Beaufort very well.”