Readings are free and open to the public. Book signing and reception follow the program, held on the second Friday of the month in downtown Charleston at:
The Charleston Library Society
164 King Street (just before Queen)
Seminars are also held at The Charleston Library Society, unless otherwise stated, and run from 10:00 a.m. to noon. Members $10, College of Charleston students free, all others $15.
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Be sure to check out our state-wide poetry calendar to find events in your area!
- September 2016: Ginger Murchison (opening: Marcus Amaker)
- October 2016: Bruce Weigl (opening: TBA)
- November 2016: Traci Brimhall (opening: Raena Shirali)
- December 2016: Holiday Party, for PSSC members only
- January 2017: Annual Open Mic, Jim Lundy, emcee
- February 2017: John Milkereit (opening: TBA)
- March 2017: Terri McCord (opening: Brian Slusher)
- April 2017: Eugenia Leigh (opening: Celeste McMaster)
- May 2017: Annual Forum with Joseph Bathanti
September 9: Ginger Murchison with Marcus Amaker
September 10, 10:00 a.m. to noonSeminar with Ginger Murchison, "Grammar: the Way to Intensity in Poems"
We’ll explore ways grammar works to do much of the heavy lifting to build intensity, to sharpen images, write crisper and fresher lines and add energy to our poems. Even poets who think they have forgotten most of what they knew about grammar will delight in watching time march down the page in narratives and stand still in lyrics, in seeing constructions that hammer energy into a poem, supporting what poets have known all along: that a poem is indeed a made thing.
October 14: Bruce Weigl
Bruce Weigl has published over a dozen award-winning poetry collections. Many of his poems are inspired by the time he spent in the U.S. Army and Vietnam. In addition to writing his own poetry, Weigl translated poems of North Vietnamese and Viet Cong soldiers captured during war with Thanh T. Nguten of the Joiner Research Center. Weigl's first award was a prize from the American Academy of Poets in 1979. He received two Pushcart Prizes, a Patterson Poetry Prize, and a Yaddo Foundation Fellowship. He was awarded the Bread Loaf Fellowship in Poetry in 1981 and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1988 for Arts and Creative Writing. He was also nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for Song of Napalm. Weigl currently is a visiting distinguished professor at Lorain County Community College.
October 15, 10:00 a.m. to noonSeminar with Bruce Weigl, "Writing at the Juncture of Memory and Imagination"
November 11: Traci Brimhall with Raena Shirali
November 12, 10:00 a.m. to noonSeminar with Traci Brimhall, "Tuning Your Tension"
Every writer has their strengths, but we often tend to over rely on what we already know we do well. In “Tuning Your Tension” we will focus more on how to create a balance of tension in poems. We will look at poems that model a balance of tension between clarity and difficulty, diction and subject matter, emotion and intellect. We will then use an exercise to generate new work that tries to balance our inherent strengths by employing vocabulary, syntax, and tonal choices we normally shy away from. If you have a natural gift for image and metaphor, what happens when you incorporate philosophy or meditation? If you tend to write simple, declarative sentences, how would your work change if you wrote a poem in a single, long, winding sentence and focused on the musicality of language rather than clarity? Keats said in a letter to Shelley that he should “load every rift of his subject with ore.” In this seminar, we will try and do just that.
December 9: Holiday Party, for PSSC members onlyLocation TBA Be sure to write a limerick or a toast for the competition!
January 13: Annual Open Mic, Jim Lundy, emcee
February 10: John Milkereit
February 11, 10:00 a.m. to noonSeminar with John Milereit, "How Do We Get Humor Back into Poetry?"
Who said poetry must be serious to be good? Just what are you willing to risk to elevate your poems above the slush pile? Explore seriously fun concepts that could liven up your writing. We will revisit traditional poetic devices, methods, and certain poetic forms as possibilities to add humor. This seminar is part craft talk, part workshop with a pragmatic approach in the spirit of improvisation. Writing prompts and a handout included.
March 10: Terri McCord with Brian Slusher
BRIAN SLUSHER teaches English and Theatre at Mauldin High School. His poetry has been published in a variety of literary magazines and anthologies. He lives in Greenville, South Carolina with his wife Terri McCord, three cats, and a collie dog. He never regrets eating the last piece of cheesecake.
March 11, 10:00 a.m. to noonSeminar with Terri McCord and Brian Slusher, "PO(L)ETICS: Should Poetry Be Politics Free?"
Throughout history, writers have used their words to critique the social events of their time. While both the novel and the essay are well-established in the service of political commentary, poetry appears less comfortable in the role. Richard Wilbur said, "[when] poets begin preaching to the choir, it takes the adventure and variety out of the poetry.” Does a poet have the obligation to engage in the political arena? Is poetry even suited for the task?
In this workshop, we will examine prominent examples of the political poem, discuss the strategies and weaknesses of such work, and maybe get started on a political poem or two of our own.
April 14: Eugenia Leigh with Celeste McMaster
April 15, 10:00 a.m. to noonSeminar with Eugenia Leigh, "Telling the Truth, but Telling It Slant"
This seminar—part conversation and part workshop—will excavate the power behind poems that draw from personal or collective experiences that are “true.” In Emily Dickinson’s poem with the famous first line, “Tell all the truth but tell it slant,” Dickinson also insists “The Truth must dazzle gradually.” How does a poem manage to tell its truths by not only dazzling, but by also dazzling gradually? What craft elements can a poem employ to slant its truths? The study of contemporary poems by living, truth-telling poets who master the Art of the Gradual Dazzle will help us answer these questions and steer us to create our own Dickinson-approved poems.
May 12: Annual Forum with Joseph Bathanti
May 13, 10:00 a.m. to noonSeminar with Joseph Bathanti, "‘Writing the Longer Narrative Poem"
This workshop will focus on writing longer poems that tell stories through utilizing classic conventions of fiction such as dialogue, plot, conflict, characterization, setting/place, etc., while still relying heavily on key elements of poetry such as compressed, often impressionistic, language; rhythm; stylized line and stanza breaks; and attention to sound. We’ll strive to balance the image-charged voltage of poetry with traditionally discursive narrative strategies of fiction and creative nonfiction, focusing on the occasion of the poem, and the dramatic situation that inspired it. Participants will be provided with examples of narrative poems aimed at triggering the narrative impulse.
PSSC has hosted writers groups regularly since the early 1920s. Poetry Society members are invited to attend free of charge for support and critique of their poetry, and experienced poets are invited to moderate. If you want support to start a writers' group in your community, please contact PSSC.
The Poetry Society has asked Susan Laughter Meyers to teach workshops for the Writers' Group 3-4 times a year (instead of holding monthly sessions). Gathering for workshops will give the group an opportunity to discuss a specific poetry craft topic, or sometimes subjects beyond craft—a chance to look at the topic in depth. Each session will include a workshop packet with pertinent quotes, exemplary poems, writing activities, etc.
These workshops will be held 3-5 times a year. The tentative schedule for 2016 is as follows: with the next one tentatively scheduled for January 23rd.
- February 27th
- April 23rd
- October 29
Free for PSSC/CLS members & CofC students; $15 for all others
(PSSC membership, $25 annually; new memberships welcome)
For more information, contact PSSC.