Native Of Georgialina

I grew up in Lincoln County, Georgia and graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in Journalism. I began my career as a scriptwriter, moved into magazine work, then wandered into the book world. My work has appeared in magazines throughout the South. Among my recent books are Classic Carolina Road Trips From Columbia, Georgialina, A Southland, As We Knew It, and Reflections of South Carolina, Vol. II. Swamp Gravy, Georgia’s Official Folk Life Drama, staged my play, Solid Ground, which pleases me as I am from Georgia but live in South Carolina. In April 2018 the History Press published my book, South Carolina Country Roads.

Wayne Ford of the Athens Banner Herald wrote, “Tom Poland is an inquisitive man who keeps an eye out for extravagant chunks of nature, disappearing cultures, and people who are salt of the earth. He has ridden those so-called back roads for years chewing foods, sipping drinks, absorbing stories and documenting his finds. Change is what Poland touches upon frequently.”

Yep, change is my subject matter. I write a weekly column for newspapers and journals in Georgia and South Carolina about the South, its people, traditions, lifestyle, and changing culture and speak to groups across South Carolina and Georgia. I’m the editor of Shrimp, Collards & Grits, a Lowcountry lifestyle magazine.

I write about “Georgialina”—my name for eastern Georgia and South Carolina. I prefer forgotten backroads and places where the pace crawls, where old mansions crumble, and orchards go untended. It’s there that I find inspiration and there that I uncover tales and ways that belong to the past. You’ll find memories, special places, and unforgettable characters in my work. I think of myself as a blue-collar historian. Maybe you will too.

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Tom's 2nd portrait 300dpi-1

Order Of The Palmetto—The highest civilian honor in the State of South Carolina. It recognizes a person’s lifetime achievements and contributions to the State of South Carolina and her people.

Member of Authors Round the South

Board of Directors, The MACK

SC Humanities Speakers Bureau

SC ETV Advisory Council

I don’t understand how a writer can get writer’s block, so called. My problem is having too much and not being able to get it all down. —James Dickey 

Because I was born in the South, I’m a Southerner. If I had been born in the North, the West, or the Central Plains, I would be just a human being. —Clyde Edgerton

You speak for the Carolina that is sorely neglected–the down-trodden, the forgotten, the ignored, but hard-working, interdependent heart of our state. —Reg Brashington, Columbia, SC

This morning I re-read Tom Poland’s story in the December, 2018, issue about his grandfather, and wanted to shout with joy. Wonderfully written. He’s writer I’d love to meet. —Terry Kay, Georgia Author of To Dance with the White Dog

I almost cried for what we have lost, I cannot tell you how much it meant to me, for you to take me back with you. —Brenda Bancroft, North Augusta, SC

I just  discovered your stories online. I really enjoy your writing. I plan to read them like my Mama read the Bible—a little at a time so that I can savor them. —Bill Hatch of Carolina Moon Distillery, Edgefield SC

Author and “blue-collar historian” Tom Poland documents the disappearing rural and folk traditions of South Carolina and eastern Georgia with a voice somewhere between newspaper columnist and general store front porch raconteur. — Kyle Petersen

There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man. True nobility is being superior to your former self. —Ernest Hemingway

Reader on “Moonshine Memories. ” This was one of the most touching stories I have ever read. It touched me in so many different ways that I lost count. I learned about your writing this year and am looking forward to reading all of it. God bless you for your work and what it means to people. I plan to attend the Southern Studies Showcase and hope to see you there.—Kathy Orr

There comes a time when you realize that everything is a dream, and only those things preserved in writing have any possibility of being real. —James Salter

No iron can pierce the heart with such force as a period put just at the right place. ―Babel

The writing life is essentially one of solitary confinement—if you can’t deal with this you needn’t apply. —Will Self in The Guardian

Scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real. —Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses

I don’t know why I started writing. I don’t know why anybody does it. Maybe they’re bored, or failures at something else. ― Cormac McCarthy

In going where you have to go, and doing what you have to do, and seeing what you have to see, you dull and blunt the instrument you write with. But I would rather have it bent and dull and know I had to put it on the grindstone again and hammer it into shape and put a whetstone to it, and know that I had something to write about, than to have it bright and shining and nothing to say, or smooth and well-oiled in the closet, but unused. —Ernest Hemingway

Writing is a kind of smoke, seized and put on paper. —James Salter

To be a writer is to be sentenced to correcting. —James Salter

It’s dangerous not to let things age, and if something is really good, you should put it away for a month. —James Salter

If you’re a singer, you lose your voice. A baseball player loses his arm. A writer gets more knowledge, and if he’s good, the older he gets, the better he writes. —Mickey Spillane

All my life I’ve looked at words as though I were seeing them for the first time. —Ernest Hemingway

Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut. —Ernest Hemingway

I never wanted to be well rounded, and I do not admire well-rounded people nor their work. So far as I can see, nothing good in the world has ever been done by well-rounded people. The good work is done by people with jagged, broken edges, because those edges cut things and leave an imprint, a design. —Harry Crews

41 thoughts on “Native Of Georgialina

  1. Love these site… these things are slipping away too fast. Sometimes change is good, sometimes change is not good.
    Liesha Huffstetler, Dutch Fork Historical Society

  2. Hello Tom. Mike Wilson
    Nice to meet you and I like it that you care about the South’s Heritage
    I live in Pickens SC. Lots of history around here. Right now the biggest thing happing up here is the old Singer plant being renovated into several things. This old plant served this community for many years. I worked there as a teenager in 1976 for awhile. We made all types of hand tools for Sears. Such as skil saws, drills ect. So glad to see it not being torn down. It will be turned into the Hosea Industrial Park. Right it’s open daily. You might find it interesting to write a piece on it. I do photography and have a drone that I have captured some great photos and video. Just love going back in time in this old place.
    If you are interested I can hook you up with the right people.
    Thanks again. Mike

    • Thank you, Mike for contacting me. I’m glad to hear this positive news. Stay in touch so I can let you know when I’ll be up that way. I like the region and would love to get up during fall “color” season. I’d like to see your photos and footage too.

  3. Saw your story in Lancaster news. Picture of millstone intrigued me. I live in an antibellum home the Wade Beckham house. We have three milestones at our front stoop. How can I get that one. It would go well. Would love a matching set. Thanks.

  4. My whole life since I was old enough to learn about the Old South from pre Civil War,during the War to afterwards has always intrgigued me very much. Especially the Antebellum homes still being lived in to the abandoned ones. I live in Washington Ga & we have a huge Red Angus farm in Talieffero Co. off Hwy 44 that is near 500 acres & nearly 200 yrs been in family. Old barns & antiques still there as well as 2 very old cemetery’s that I believe have old Confederate soldiers buried there.

  5. Hi Tom it is so nice to meet you! My husband and I bought an old Farmhouse on a hill that once we began pulling off all the paneling and sheetrock we discovered we had a Federal Era home 1780 to 1830. It is called the Old Weber Home Place. Mike from SC Preservation stopped by and walked through and was impressed with the age, making comment it could very well be the oldest in Newberry County. If u are ever in the county reach out I too am a history major!

    • How nice to hear from you and what a great discovery. Mike is great to work with and he knows his stuff. I get up your way from time to time. Got to my website contact page and send me an email so we can stay in touch. Thank you for writing me. —Tom

  6. Did you know that Myrtle Beach was named for the wax myrtle not the crape myrtle ? You made this error in Reflections of South Carolina.

  7. Tom, Writing and talking about the history of our revered South is a passion. Enough time is never available to put into print the wonderful and inspiring truths we find in our work You do it as well or better than anyone I know. In a way you remind me of my friend and writer James Everett Kibler of Newberry. He too has a talent that is hard to match because it is not just from his brain that thoughts flow, but from his heart. That is you, my friend.

  8. Dear Tom, So glad that James asked you to friend me..Loved all I’ve read this a,m,.we are second cousins I believe. Remember your grandparents,as Thelma was my daddies sister. Your granddad had a big barbecue every year and all Blanchard’s descended on them. Those were wonderful times, and I’m sorry to say I didn’t appreciate them like I should have. Anyway, Tom it’s so nice to hear from you.

    • It’s wonderful to be able to share my memories with you. Thelma was my grandmother. I think of her all the time and she is prominent in my work. Those were fabulous times. We miss things once they’re gone. I’ll keep the stories coming. I thank James for connecting us. —Tom

  9. Love your reflections on our beloved south. In edgefield my home town we have a bit of notorious history.Becky cotton was one.also several shootouts at a saloon here in town.people would say if a car backfired everyone hit the ground thinking someone was shooting at them.another book about the timmerman and logue feud is wanton Woman.this books focus mostly on sue logue. Come to edgefield.walk around town.read the history of our cute little town.

    • Thank you, Nancy. I get to Edgefield often to speak and to explore the area. I’ve spoken at Southern Studies and spoken to groups in the Tompkins Memorial Library. Lots of great stories there. I’ll keep telling them.

  10. Today, while traveling near Thomson, we listened to your Radio Show with my friend Cooper, — I am the model building, Peters burg, the old river town– and will be watching your schedule, to do a live visit sometime later this year, Sid Johnson//Elberton with about 25 years in Columbia– more later. Enjoyed your show !

  11. Just became aware of you and your works. Looking forward to getting to know more about both.

    I also attended UGA (more parties than classes) with intentions of becoming the next great writer of advertising copy or maybe an equally renowned sports columnist for a major daily.

    However, this S. GA nerd wasn’t prepared for being away from home alone, yet invited to so many parties every week, almost every night. Vietnam was calling as well. Disowned by parents financially for precipitous drop in grades from 3rd in Jesup HS class to below “sweat hogs” status as Sophomore Journalism Major in Athens.

    Managed to teach 9th grade English in Lyons on a provisional certificate as most of the public school teachers fled to the newly formed private schools prior to that system’s first year of federally enforced integration.

    Lucked into an opening in the AF Reserves unit at Charleston AFB on a Thursday, just in the nick of time as my notice had arrived from Ft. McPherson to appear for my physical there the following Monday. Whew!

    FINALLY finished college at Georgia Southern (working my way through) majoring in English & minoring in Journalism, working 6 shifts a week as “beer tender” at “The Flame” night club in Statesboro after my 6 months active duty in Charleston.

    All good. No student loans. Earned new respect (tinged with extra credit for maturity) from my parents. Moved my act & diploma to FL for the next few decades. Skip to today..,,

    Retired with my Ukrainian Warrior Princess on Lake Murray near Chapin, SC. When “this thing going around“ goes away, here’s hoping we can meet for a bologna sandwich somewhere.

    Be good to yourself until then.

    Gilbert “Gib” Henry
    813-505-2272

  12. I was hoping to find some info of your SC country roads. I love history. I spent many years on a houseboat at Lake Russell. That was always an adventure! I live on a farm between Colbert & Comer just off Hwy. 72. My road is named after the Brickyard by the river where bricks were made. Also lots of Indian artifacts in this area. Oh, old blown up remains of moonshine stills too! I find so many of these “finds” interesting!

  13. Just found you on GAB. I love your writing! You remind me of John Parris who wrote for the Asheville Citizens Times. I have a few of his books. I grew up in NC but live in middle Tn. now. I look forward to reading more of your work!!!

  14. Enjoy your stories in the Lancaster News. We have season tickets to the Masters and have for many years stayed at the Cullars Inn in Lincolnton, Ga. Thought you might be familiar with this.
    Planted 50 daffodil bulbs 11 years ago and never more than 1 bloom on maybe 6 or 8 plants. last year we cut down 5 large trees beside them and this year they are all blooming and are beautiful. Makes me smile every time I look out my window.

    • Actually, think the additional sun made the biggest difference. But sure has made a difference in my attitude.
      If and when we get back to the Masters and pass your property I’ll throw up a hand and wave, and keep writing your excellent articles.

  15. Each day you live in your writing.
    You have a lot of Hemingway in you Tom Poland. I enjoy your work very much.
    Thank you for your photography and your dedication to the written word. You are an inspiration. I appreciate you.
    B. Newman Bancroft

  16. Just read you ‘For the Birds’ article about your Mother and the Bird Clocks’. I have 6 feeders and I know what you mean when you feel guilty when they are empty!! I am sure you have found someone to live the Bird Clock but if not, I would be happy to take it off your hands. My Mom and Dad always had feeders and lived bird watching as do I. My habits are similar to yours as making coffee then checking on the feeders and the bird activity. A great writer to be sure!

  17. Thank you for that story about your “last dog.”you truly are the best writer in the world. It’s best you did not get another dog. I hate the ritual of their putting my beloved dogs to death. I didn’t realize how much Dad did, that nobody else could do. After he buried Cricket, our Irish Setter, who lived to be 16., Dad and I cried and cried together. I forgave all of his flaws that day.
    He buried some more after that. None lived as long as Cricket. After my beloved Porky, I didn’t want another dog. I have one now, but I can never love him like I loved Porky. Not like my Porky. When a love song plays, I think of Porky. Those 4 guys ll Divo and their song about the beautiful face of their beloved., that is my theme song for Beautiful Porky. She was my treasure. Rocky is my functional dog, and he is quite good at that. He lets me know if someone is walking down the sidewalk, across the street, and barks ferociously. He wouldn’t hurt a fly. I don’t know if you wrote that recently, or long ago. I just saw it today for the first time. Your eloquence is lovely. Thanks. It helps to remember all that Dad did.

  18. Your sister posted this lovely story My Last Dog on Will and Wee Jess and now I am compelled to write to tell you how much I appreciated this. I lived in Myrtle Beach briefly in the 80’s and go back to the area periodically because I am drawn to the Carolinas.. My ex dragged me away.

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