Author Archives: William A. Balk, Jr.

Born and reared in the Coastal Plain of South Carolina, William A. Balk, Jr. was educated at the state’s namesake university, became an activist confronting the power of the modern State and its military, and spent two years in a radical gay commune in the nation’s capital. He has taught textile construction and design for the Smithsonian and Textile Museum in Washington, collected modern porcelain masters, and has submitted to a peculiar affinity for independent book stores. Balk returned to the South Carolina Low Country in middle age, as well as to his extended family, and a literary life lived largely out of doors. Book stores and gardening remain his perennial passions, as does writing. He has been a regular columnist for “The Lowcountry Weekly” newspaper for seven years; he is included in the award-winning book, Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy. He has assumed several new roles in recent years, including caregiver for his near-centenarian mother, advisor to the Pat Conroy Literary Center, and member of the Board of Directors for South Carolina Humanities. Like one of his heroes, Epicurus, whose philosophical school was called “The Garden,” Balk’s aim has long been “to attain a happy, tranquil life, characterized by ataraxia—peace and freedom from fear—and aponia—the absence of pain—and by living a self-sufficient life surrounded by friends.”

Spring Has Blown!

“Certainly, the days are getting longer, but what I especially cherish is the change in the light, itself. It has a different quality from the low-angled blue-tinted light of winter. As the sun’s position in the sky rises with each passing week, the light becomes more direct. The new leaves on all the trees seem […]

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Winter’s Toll

“Climate change must inevitably mean garden change as well. The garden is in the process of changing all the time. As a gardener, I am always trying to impose my own intentions on the plants, on their environment, and on their development. At the same time, the global forces of nature are imposing their own […]

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Imbibing Spirits (Revived)

“He hopped a freight train one day, unannounced, and hoboed his way across the country. Reaching the end of the line in New Mexico, he spent the next year and a half as a working cowboy. He made no contact with his family back home until he was ready to return and, when he returned, […]

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Rollin’ On the River: A Naïve Gourmet in The Big Easy

“Indeed, the location wasn’t promising, competing for space with dozens of passers-by, including a corsage-bedecked nun (with a beard) and a short-legged dog who posed atop a three-foot pedestal for photographs. Very quickly, a server appeared to take drink orders (priorities!) and, just as quickly, another server stopped to give us the menu and explain […]

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Eatin’ Goober Peas

“It would be sad to have to miss out on the joy of reaching into a damp brown paper bag, removing a fat, soft, whole peanut in its soggy shell, popping the entire thing in your mouth and gently biting/chewing/sucking out the salty juice and the soft-cooked nuts inside . . . and then spitting […]

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Thief of Hearts, Prince of Scribes

“. . . the world lost a loquacious, generous, and gifted writer; a troubled soul, who made his life work out of his struggle to overcome his difficulties; a liar who made a great truth from his life. And I lost a friend.”—William A. Balk, Jr. Epicurus’ Porch By William A. Balk, Jr. ELKO, South […]

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Legendary Beauty Across Rae’s Creek

“Rarely do the commentators and the golf writers remember to mention the source of that horticultural magnificence for which the Augusta National is rightly celebrated. When founders of the golf club, Bobby Jones and Cliff Roberts, opened their new course to play in 1933, they had an existing property already landscaped with rare and beautiful […]

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Frogmore & The Gold Eagle

“I was, let’s say, witness to a number of amazing experiences during these months of recovery, of realignment, of rebirth. There were escapades of utterly insane, reckless high speed chases through farmers’ fields; of a pickup truck disappearing beneath the waves; of midnight runs to a bootlegger’s cabin; of providing sanctuary for a friend fleeing […]

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SCUM of The Earth

“If I’d known she’d tried to kill him, I might have sat at the counter instead of at one of her tables. But I hadn’t known, and I did sit at her table.”—William A. Balk, Jr. Epicurus’ Porch By William A. Balk, Jr. ELKO South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—June 2018—If I’d known she’d tried to kill him, […]

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Wild Thing, I Think I Love You

“I am able, remarkably, to celebrate both the unmatched offerings of nature on its own terms as well as the joys and challenges of trying to make a garden. The close presence of nature, however, does make some aspects of gardening more challenging than I would like; the reality of caring for the garden (however […]

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