South Carolina author, editor, and speaker Tom Poland has received South Carolina’s highest civilian honor, the Order of the Palmetto.
First awarded in 1971 by Gov. John C. West, the honor is bestowed in recognition of a person’s achievements and contributions to the state. Poland received the award Friday, November 2, at the State House.
As the author of several major books on South Carolina, Poland is a significant voice in heralding the unique heritage of the Palmetto State and its natural beauty. He travels back roads, looking for forgotten places, captivating people and vestiges of bygone times, many of which appear in his works. They include South Carolina—The Natural Heritage; South Carolina—A Timeless Journey; and Reflections of South Carolina, Volumes I and II, all published by the University of South Carolina Press, as well as well as Classic Carolina Road Trips and South Carolina Country Roads, published by the History Press of Charleston. Another book, The Mystique of the Carolina Bays, will be published by USC Press in 2019. He authored Transforming South Carolina’s Destiny, the history of the technical college system, and Save the Last Dance For Me, the history of the shag and the Society of Stranders. The University of South Carolina Press published Georgialina, A Southland As We Knew It, of which Pat Conroy wrote, “Tom Poland brings the fading and forgotten rural South back to life with a deeply felt reverence for the power of story to preserve our shared past.”
A resident of Columbia since 1974, Poland was an adjunct professor for 20 years at the University of South Carolina, College of Information and Communications. A former editor of South Carolina Wildlife Magazine, his articles appear in numerous regional periodicals and newspapers. A member of the South Carolina Humanities Speakers Bureau, he is invited frequently to give presentations on state culture and history. He also serves on the SCETV Advisory Council.
Currently, Poland is editor of Shrimp, Collards and Grits, a lifestyle magazine published in Bluffton. He has been published in more than 1,200 magazine features and columns. A native of Lincolnton, Georgia, he received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Georgia. Poland’s family traces its ancestral roots to South Carolina’s Edgefield County.