Alumni writers in ‘State of the Heart’

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An abandoned farm near Edgefield. An ancient bald cypress in Congaree National Park. A wildlife “enchantment” spot in Calhoun Falls State Park. Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. Clemson’s own Class of ’39 Caboose Garden in the S.C. Botanical Garden.
All are vivid places lodged in the minds of Clemson alumni writers.
They’re among an album of mental snapshots — places, people, history — in a collection by 36 S.C. writers on the places they love. The newly published State of the Heart is edited by author Aïda Rogers with foreword by novelist Pat Conroy.
Clemson wildlife ecology professor J. Drew Lanham ’88, M ’90, PhD ’97 revisits the Edgefield farm of his youth and its decaying beauty, the place where he learned to value and respect the sometimes harsh patterns of nature. He’s author of The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature published by Milkweed Editions.
Former S.C. Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist John Cely ’69, M ’80 describes his first encounter with the great bald cypress in the Congaree National Park and the park’s hardwood forest he’d thought existed only in history books. He’s a former land-protection director for the Congaree Land Trust and author of Cowassee Basin: the Green Heart of South Carolina.
Director of Erskine’s Quality Enhancement Program and writing center, Shane Bradley M ’07 remembers a no-frills camping trip with his four-year-old daughter in Calhoun Falls State Park, an experience that opened his eyes to nature’s enchantment and began a priceless family tradition. He’s author of Mourning Light and The Power and the Glory.
Award-winning novelist, poet, biographer and historian William Baldwin ’66, M ’68 recounts a project on the history of the great Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, a conflicted effort as significant for its failures as for its successes. Among his many works is Unpainted South, in collaboration with photographer Seldon B. Hill, a tribute to South Carolina’s rural past.
Former Clemson World editor Liz Newall ’70 revisits the S.C. Botanical Garden at Clemson, a living preserve illustrated by nature and cultivated by countless faithful gardeners — where each visitor finds a bit of his or her own personal history. She’s author of Why Sarah Ran Away with the Veterinarian and other fiction and nonfiction.
Clemson legends Frank Howard and Ben Robertson also make cameo appearances. State of the Heart is available through bookstores and online at

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