Rotary Club of Charleston among sponsors of this year's Black Ink Festival

Fifty black authors will attend an expanding festival of writing due to take place in Charleston next month.

Hosted by the Charleston County Public Library, this year's Black Ink Festival has attracted authors from as far away as California, according to the organizers.

The public library is also one of the event's sponsors, along with, among others, the Rotary Club of Charleston, the Cannon Street YMCA and the YWCA, and the South Carolina Humanities Council.

The keynote speaker will be Kwame Alexander, the acclaimed poet and children's fiction writer who won the 2015 Newberry Medal for his book, The Crossover. The event takes place Sept. 23.

Paul Stoney, president of the Cannon Street YMCA, and past president of The Rotary Club of Charleston, said the involvement of the two organizations with which he is involved was natural. Both are involved in promoting literacy.

"The YMCA is involved in literacy programs, especially for children, and we really felt we should be involved in this initiative, not only one that highlights African-American authors, but set as an example to children who are interested in being in the industry," Stoney told Palmetto Business Daily. "It is an excellent way to expose them."

He continued, "As president of the Rotary Club last year I felt it was important that our members back it and become involved as volunteers."

The club took that a step further and decided to sponsor the festival this year.

"Literacy is one of the major focuses of the Rotary Club," Stoney said. "Members will also be involved as volunteers."

Steven Hoffus, who is on the organizing committee, told Palmetto Business Daily that around 30 local authors were in attendance last year, but the event is expanding.

This year, the organizers have signed up authors from the area, but also from Georgia, North Carolina, even California, Hoffus said, adding that the event last year attracted a diverse audience and every genre of writing possible.

A writer and editor, Hoffus said the genesis of the festival came from a conversation with a just published author, who simply said what a great idea it would be to have such an event in Charleston.

The involvement of the public library may be unique, Hoffus said. "I was talking to an author from out of state who had never heard of a festival in a county library, or a library sponsoring such an event," he explained. 

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