I fell in love with Pat Conroy when I was in my thirties. He wooed me with his smooth talking, his mesmerizing metaphors, his biting Irish humor. He had me at “My wound is geography.” My love grew with each book of his that I read. I caressed the pages, poring over his words.

            Many people associate Pat Conroy with his vivid, heartbreakingly accurate descriptions of his dysfunctional family. They discuss the relationships between mother and son, brother and sister, and most certainly, father and son.

            When I think of Pat Conroy, however, I always connect with his sultry, salty descriptions of a landscape we lovingly call the Lowcountry. His passion for the vast, seductive wetlands teeming with life is vividly portrayed on every page. He reveals how the ocean and creeks provide a feast so that even the poorest of men can eat like a king. Conroy brings us fully into his story world, not only in the hearts of minds of his characters, but in the sights, scents and sounds of this unique part of the South he calls home.

            I, too, write stories set in the Lowcountry. I am inspired by this architect of words, this writer I have fallen in love with. His words sustain me. Over the past years I’ve been fortunate to meet Pat and call him friend. We share a love of the landscape and found a common ground as warriors to protect it. But I do not compare myself to Pat Conroy. Nor should any other writer of the Lowcountry, not even the South. We all owe a debt to this literary groundbreaker. There is only one Prince of Tides.  

           Join us Oct. 29-31 in Beaufort, SC for "Pat Conroy at 70," a literary festival celebrating South Carolina's prince of titles.  Click here for details

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Mary Alice