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"As the Elephants are Drawn and Painted"

A Letter from the President

Hello, poets and poetry lovers. 

There's an elephant painted on the wall at my physical therapist's office. I've been going in for a bit of trouble with my left hip, and every time I'm in the waiting room, I stare at that grand beast until every preoccupation I might have had instead dwindles to acceptance ... because what could be bigger than this elephantine presence? The love of animals has certainly saved me more than once.

Meanwhile, according to poet Mark Wagenaar, "the elephants have retired now that the circus/has closed/to their watercolors/& bowling leagues/ their tusk-dug/rose gardens." Good for them. And in my own yard, the roses are waiting when I drive in after a long day at the college with my head full of competing thoughts about work, love, and poetry. More specifically, The Poetry Society of South Carolina. To some people, our Society has seemed an "ivory tower," a term with both positive and negative connotations: it can suggest a refuge, a place of seclusion, or a place out of touch with ordinary folk.

But what we really are is an elephantine presence. Collectively, we have the power to create change. To borrow from Lucille Clifton, "these hips are mighty hips/these hips are magic hips." We can go where we want to go. Go, for example, to Every Corner, Every County. So, we're off to the Pee Dee region tomorrow, May 4th!


Please bear with us as we attempt to host both the May 4th workshop and the reading on Zoom as well. It's possible we will have to make adjustments. Zoom links are provided below in the Every Corner, Every County section (thanks, Jim!)

On May 10, when we hold our traditional end-of-the-year forum to close out the 2023-2024 season, we will announce the winners of the spring contests and elect or re-elect members of the board. John Hoppenthaler will be the featured poet for this occasion, and he is hosting a workshop on the 11th. Details below.

 Next up, I will have a show and tell for April, National Poetry Month, but first let me say again that we always appreciate your donations to the annual budget, especially as we prepare to go to Every Corner, Every County!  Donate at the Join Us/Workshops link at the top right of the website. Scroll down to Donation to our Cause. Thank you.

Please reach out to Jim if you have any questions about membership:

And I'll say goodbye to you way down at the end of this long April tribute to all that is glorious in poetry. 


Thank you so much to Amy Randall, who put this event together, and to all the Upstate Poets and community members who attended. What a lovely venue. I think we're going back...

There's nothing like a circle of poets and deep listeners, and we found that at the Riverbanks area of Still Hopes on Sunday. Such a pleasure to see and hear Susan Craig, Libby Bernardin, and Ruth Nicholson, and to share a little bit about the Poetry Society. One of the things that was particularly meaningful to me was when Susan's sister and others from the community shared their appreciation for poetry as a way of saving the world. Thank you, Susan, for putting this together, and welcome back to the Columbia area, Libby!


Tina Baumis put together another wonderful outing, and we were pleased to have Chris Wynn (known as C-Lyric) join us. We read our own poetry and that of others, and walked the beach. Tina found some sidewalk chalk lying in the grass and knelt to put "Poets Were Here." We signed our names and added "PSSC." Can there be a better way to spend the morning? Also, thank you to Ashley and Tina for encouraging me to make a stop at Botany Bay. I fell in love with that magical place.

The winner of the latest Poetry Trails contest was chosen by our April judge, Katie Ellen Bowers... and Charles Watts has done it again! This means he has officially won another guitar from our sponsor Danny Sciortino. This is a good thing because he gave the last one to a granddaughter in Atlanta "who had been trying to learn on a $70 Walmart special and was getting disappointed because she couldn't make it sound good. With a fine guitar, she hit her stride and practices and writes songs most every day." What a good grandfather, and isn't she lucky he's a tremendous poet?

I told him I could not drive all the way to Lake Placid to give it to him. :>) 

Thank you for your big heart, Charles ... and Danny, too. For more Members in the News, just keep scrolling, friend.

Map photo credit to Tina Baumis

I missed this event because I traveled to Alabama for a funeral, but Richard Allen Taylor filled in for me and carried it off expertly (of course). Thank you to Janet Kozachek for these photos, and I heard everyone read brilliantly. The library would like to collaborate with us again.

This is another event that I had to miss because of the funeral, and I am deeply grateful to Al Black for taking over as host, and to David Lemieux for setting up and taking photographs/videos. I wish I could have heard Michal Rubin and Kristine Hartvigsen read their poetry, but Al tells me they were each wonderful, with uniquely individual themes and approaches. We were missing our third poet, but we will get him on stage at some point! Finally, I can't say enough about how great it was to bring pianist MarQuel Landy out to Good Life. He says he will be coming to play at other events, so we can look forward to that. I heard he played some deep tunes in minor chords -- Chopin and more.

Kudos to Amy Randall for also organizing the other Upstate Poets event for this month, which included around eleven poets. So much talent in the room it was delightful.

I received an invitation to speak to this generous group at the Lizard Thicket, where we gathered for lunch (thank you, Chris!). It was a great chance to share what we are doing in the Poetry Society, and I took a spread of South Carolina poets' books as well as Jim Lundy's marvelous History of PSSC. Marv Ward and Arthur Turfa also read their poetry, and Marv gave me a copy of his book Barstool Poet. I read the first poem from this book at Poetry Trails -- we loved it.

We were so pleased to welcome Tarfia Faizullah, and to have our own Elizabeth Robin as opening reader.  A welcome relief of poetry at the end of a challenging work week will do a soul good. Thank you to everyone who came out, and to Jim and Charles for manning the Zoom, the program, camera, and more. We love Gage Hall  and Buxton Books and appreciate their generosity as well. Buxton provided a lovely reception and signing for us.

Tarfia's workshop was also insightful. Plus, we were in great company with some of our members!

Ashley Crout made us proud (again) as the featured poet at Mind Gravy, hosted by Al Black. Followed by her reading, there was an open mic, which always involves a variety of community personalities that are guaranteed to be fun. We also appreciate those who just sit and listen. 

I was honored to fill in for Al Black, who was under the weather. I read his magnificent poem, "Postmodern Beatitudes," got to hear bagpipes, and met some really friendly people. You know I'm Scottish on both sides, right? 

Shayna Shanes has been accepted to the MFA program of her choice, which is fabulous. We are proud and eager to follow her journey. However, she has decided to discontinue the writers group, at least in its current form. So let's all say thank you to her, and wish her well. She has done an outstanding job.


If you missed our fantastic April Reading with Tarfia Faizullah and Elizabeth Robin, you can watch it at your convenience on the PSSC's Youtube Channel by clicking on this link:


The Oliver Bowman Memorial Prize


When Oliver Bowman passed away at the age of 92 on July 25, 2023, the Poetry Society of South Carolina suffered the loss of one of our finest, most beloved central figures. Generations of PSSC members have experienced his friendship and graciousness, from

 his first appearance before the group in 1963 right up to the time of his unexpected death.

To honor Oliver, we are raising funds for the Oliver Bowman Memorial Prize that will begin this coming calendar year and continue for at least 10 years, if we can raise sufficient funds. If you would like to contribute to this collective, "The Friends of Oliver Bowman," send a check for any amount you're comfortable with to PSSC, P.O. Box 1090, Charleston, SC 29402. Make check payable to "PSSC." Please indicate that your donation is for the "Oliver Bowman Memorial Prize." Your donation is tax deductible to the full extent of the law and will be acknowledged with an official letter for tax purposes.


The May Forum with John Hoppenthaler

May 10, 2024

7:00 P.M EST

Charleston Library Society

164 King St.

Charleston, SC 29401


Our 2023-2024 calendar year comes to an end with the oldest tradition of The Poetry Society: the Annual Forum. This year, John Hoppenthaler is Forum moderator and will give a reading of his own work before beginning the Forum. John Hoppenthaler’s books of poetry are Night Wing over Metropolitan Area (2023), Domestic Garden (2015), Anticipate the Coming Reservoir (2008), and Lives of Water (2003), all with Carnegie Mellon University Press. His poetry has appeared in many journals, anthologies, and textbooks, including Ploughshares, Virginia Quarterly Review, New York Magazine, Southern Review, Christian Science Monitor, Poetry Northwest, Southeast Review, The Laurel Review, and too many others to mention.


If you're unable to attend in person, you can watch the proceedings in the comfort of your own home through Zoom. On the night of the event, simply click this link:

John Hoppenthaler Workshop 5/11/24. Charleston Library Society, 10:00-noon. Also live Zoomed (see link below)

"Every End A Beginning: Working with the Free Verse Line." Free verse isn't as free as we might think. Poems written in free verse must have architecture, too, and the onus is on the poet to create it. This structuring begins at the level of the line. End-stopped? Enjambed? Caesura manipulation? Creating a sonic texture without meter and end rhyme? These are matters that must be considered when writing free verse poetry, and that's what this seminar is about.


Every Corner Every County


Kimberly Simms Reading

Georgetown Historical Museum

May 4, 2024, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Georgetown County Museum, 120 Broad St, Georgetown, SC 29440, USA

Kimberly's literary voice is rooted in the Southern tradition of storytelling, informed by her British and Southern lineage. She is an award-winning poet who entertains and educates with poetry that is both poignant and inspiring. In her debut book of poems, Lindy Lee: Songs on Mill Hill, Kimberly chronicles the lives of textile workers in the Piedmont region with historical accuracy and imaginative insight. These are poems of sorrow, joy, and redemption that linger in the heart.She was the 2016 Carl Sandburg National Historic Site Writer-In Residence (Flat Rock, NC); she is a member of the SC Humanities Council’s Speaker’s Bureau and a pioneer turned curator in the world of poetry slams. 

This reading is the start of the 2024-2025 reading series. This is an official meeting of the PSSC.

Unable to attend in person? Use this link to attend via Zoom on the night of the reading: 

Kimberly Simms Workshop: "Visualizing Joy", Saturday, May 4, 1:00 p.m., Pawleys Tap House and Grill, 13089 Ocean Hwy, Pawleys Island, SC 29585


A staged reading of Eugene Platt's one-act play Believing Is Seeing will be presented Sunday, May 5, at 5:00 p.m. It will be at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Summerville (119 West Luke Avenue). The play is set in Jerusalem soon after the Resurrection. The cast includes Brad Erickson, Dick Latham, and others. Free admission. 

and from Kim Blum Hyclak, an invitation to submit:

If you would like to add an event to future newsletters, email the information to before the first of the month.


Members in the News

Debra Daniel announces that her story “Figments of Her Imagination” will be published online at Flash Fiction Magazine.

John Byrne has shared the following:

CofC MFA '21 Joshua Garcia will be back in town for an event for his new book Pentimento from Black Lawrence Press, and Buxton Books is hosting! (John will be reading with Josh as well.)


Richard Allen Taylor's poetry has been published in Bill Griffin's latest "Verse and Image." (Tina Baumis's work and that of Susan Laughter Meyers have also been included in this series so far.)

Richard also has three poems in YELLOW MAMA.

Tamara Miles and The Poetry Society are featured in Holy City Sinner (thank you Della Watson, for a wonderful interview!)

Debra Daniel has made the shortlist for our 2024 Micro Fiction Competition.

Glenis Redmond's book, The Song of Everything (A Poet's Exploration of South Carolina State Parks) is out! Edited by Ashley Crout. Foreword by Tamara Miles. Also wanted to let you know the book is on Goodreads. If you have an account there and are willing to leave a review, we’d love for you to share your thoughts there! To keep up with Glenis's poetry news, please sign up for her newsletter at

From Lawrence Rhu

Pre-owned Odyssey & Rented Rooms, my poetry collection, is due to be released later this year by Main Street Rag Publishing Company. In the meantime, readers have a chance to order a copy at a significantly reduced price before it appears in print. Once it is available, it will sell for $15 + shipping, but you can get it for $9+ by placing an advance discount order at the MSR Online Bookstore before it goes to press. Here’s a link directly to my author’s page, and below that, a link to a video of yours truly describing the book briefly and reading a couple of poems from it:


And... we're still looking for guest housing for our program poets, so let me know if you can help! 

Find Society merchandise below, followed by the Poetry Prompt Contest. 


You can look sporty and support the important work of the Poetry Society with each purchase. Click here to visit the website.

You can also pick up a copy of The History of the Poetry Society of South Carolina from Amazon --- and if you enjoy it, please leave a review.



The Poetry Prompt Contest is a monthly contest where we encourage you to submit a piece inspired by the new prompt found below. The winning poem or flash fiction is published in the following month's newsletter. We also offer the winner the opportunity to record a video of him or herself reading the poem to be posted to the Poetry Society's YouTube channel. There is no obligation to record the video, it is only there as an offer if the winner feels comfortable doing so.

Thank you to those who entered our Poetry Prompt Contest for April!  

The winner of the contest has been chosen by our April judge, Katie Ellen Bowers, and Paula Appling's "Celebration" is her choice. Paula is from Pickens County.

Here are some thoughts from the judge, followed by the complete poem:

"Celebration" is a nod to silent solace found in nature and the divinity seen in small moments. Through their words, the poet evokes a sense of celebratory relief, similar to feeling the warmth of the sun after a cold rain.


An April ooohhhmmmm –

the sound of the universe

hummed by a springtime bumblebee

drawn to a buttery bearded iris.

The bloom's essence,

nuanced harmony –



(Congratulations, Paula!)

This month's prompt is "elephant" or "elephantine" or some derivative of that idea. Find your grand beast and write about it.  An alternative could be "May." Submit a poem or a piece of flash fiction related to one or both of these themes. Take this in any direction you want. We'll announce the winner in the next newsletter. I know I said last month, "We're shifting the newsletter's arrival to keep you better informed of the new reading series events, which are on the first Saturday of each month," but it didn't happen that way this month. We'll see.

Send the poems to, and let me know which county you are in! 

For all the grand bones and tusks,



Copyright © 2023 The Poetry Society of South Carolina, All rights reserved.

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Editor: Tamara Miles

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