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Coming to Sing in the Wood

Updated: Nov 5, 2022

A Letter from the President


Hello from my backyard swing in Elgin, dear poets and poetry lovers of South Carolina and beyond. From the way I was just waving my arms around, you'd think I was directing an orchestra, but no... just trying to keep a mosquito from giving me the West Nile virus. At our Poetry Trails event at Sesquicentennial Park on September 17, I went around offering my Avon bug spray to anyone equally wary of those tiny filibusteros. Nevertheless, I've been known to keep company with water moccasins and alligators because the woods and rivers call my name. The title about "coming to sing in the wood" is from James Dickey's "The Other" (and the strange photograph is my own).


Telling nothing but how I made

By hand, a creature to keep me dying

Years longer, and coming to sing in the wood

Of what love might still give...


At Sesqui, Ann Chadwell-Humphries introduced via Facetime an intern named Lindsey, who sang to us... but "sang" is too simple, friends... she soothed us with the sunlight of her voice as we gathered around a picnic table. We were captivated. Recently, when I visited Ashley Crout in Greenville, we happened upon a man playing guitar, singing "Landslide," and I smiled to remember my Northern Irish friend who once remarked, "Everywhere you go, a man is singing." It's true. This time, it was a woman. Then to the microphone went the poets (Evelyn Berry, Kelley Lannigan, Saina Srivistava, Tina Baumis, Anne Humphries, Danielle Verwers, and me). Saina is a new young member who brought along her family! I read the Sesqui Poetry Trails Contest winning poem by Janet Kozachek, featuring a fox, then off we went onto the forested path. Ann told us historical stories of the park, and at a narrow bridge we stopped for more poems.


On September 22, I brought in the autumn equinox at a poetry reading at the McClellanville Arts Center with Jack Tracey, Jim Lundy, Billy Baldwin, Melanie McClellan-Harnett, and others. What a lovely art exhibit, and the poetry readings were exceptional. On the 23rd, I hosted a Poetry Society table at the Aiken Book Fair and met many people who were interested in what we're doing. And on the 24th, I visited Stormwater Studios for Janet Kozachek's art exhibit, which was the perfect opportunity to present her with the guitar she won for her poem "Winter Impromptu," selected by judge William Epes. There, I ran into another PSSC member, Jane Zenger, who told me about her poetry workshop group. She enjoyed reading from some of the Yearbooks I'd brought along from previous years, and we had a wonderful conversation.


All of this piggybacked on our first program readings of the season by Melissa Crowe and Tanner Crunelle, held despite a flood advisory. Danielle DeTiberus said she'd be there if she had to paddle down the city streets, but I was home with Covid watching on Zoom and wishing I had a river I could skate away on to the Charleston Library Society. Thank you to Vice President Emily Rosko, who carried on beautifully without me as I knew she would, even on the spur of the moment. I missed Jim Lundy's birthday and the cake... but it's never too late for a limerick:


Jim L. left his hat at the lectern;

The Society’s filled with concern.

He’s building a cabin --

the woods will now have him

covered up in mosquitoes and ferns.


Folks, we are an ecology here in the Poetry Society of South Carolina. We are moss and mist, fungi and finch, boar and bass. We may be quite different, but each of us shapes the land and depends on the water and sun. Last month, I told you I'd been asking, "What if tried to make poetry accessible to more people?" I should have said "creatures," because I read to the deer and turtles, and I guess to the mosquitoes.


Bless you all, whatever trail you are walking, and whatever song you are coming to sing in the wood. I'll be making my rounds in October... more about that below this image, which I hope you'll share.


Unfortunately, we'll have to postpone our Poetry Trails event we had planned for October 8 at Huntington Beach State Park in Murrells Inlet, due to hurricane damage there. However, the poetry contest we have going for that event will continue. We will give away a second guitar, generously donated by Danny Sciortino -- so please get your nature/music poems into me at tamaramilessc@gmail.com, and I'll tuck them away for a judge to read.


October 14 and 15, I'll meet you in Charleston for Han Vanderhart with opening reader Evelyn Berry! You can now pay for the Saturday seminar at the PSSC website with the Join Us button. Evie also reminded me to share the many events going on at Free Verse Festival.


On the 18th, I'm doing a Poet Redux event with the incredible Polish American poet John Guzlowski. We'll be hosted by Wm (Bill) Epes, a community partner who runs several poetry events on Facebook. (PSSC Board Member Charles Watts and I appeared together on Bill's "Tuesday Duets" open mic on September 27 --- great night). And on October 20, I will accompany Ann-Chadwell Humphries to the Pastides Center for the Governor's Awards in the Humanities Luncheon and Ceremony, where Lin Lawson and others will be recognized. Finally, I'm in conversation with the McClellanville poet, Melanie McClellan-Hartnett, who wants to introduce me to local poets and create neighborhood gatherings there. I have ideas... so I'll let you know.


Now, our member feature for October, provided by Jim Lundy:


Member Spotlight: Debra A. Daniel


A native of Columbia, South Carolina, Debra A. Daniel, whom most of us know as Debbie, started student teaching in 1972 at nearby Fort Jackson, the largest initial entry base in the U.S. Army. She ended up staying there until her retirement in 2006 after 34 years teaching elementary school grades 4th through 6th. During that time, she wrote poems for her classes and plays for the drama club. She started to send her work out to contests and eventually won the SC Arts Commission Fellowship in Poetry in 1993, which came with a generous cash award. She decided to use that money to attend as many poetry workshops as she could. One of those was the Wildacres Writers Workshop in the mountains of North Carolina. It was there she met Nancy Ponder, one of the PSSC’s legendary poets, who turned her onto the Poetry Society of South Carolina.


Debbie has been married to Jack McGregor for fifteen years. Soon after they met and started dating in 2004, they began singing together. In more recent years, they and other musicians have been performing in a band called Slap Wore Out, with Jack on guitar and Debbie on vocals. They also do a lot of traveling, with a special affinity for New York City.


Debbie is the author of two volumes of poetry, The Downward Turn of August and As Is. She is also the author of a novel, Woman Commits Suicide in a Dishwasher, and two novellas in a flash, The Family of Great Falls and The Roster. Debbie’s work is imbued with sly, mischievous, and sometimes dark humor. She attributes a childhood love of Mad Magazine with her initial entry into parody. It was her sense of humor that got her a spot on the TV gameshow Who Wants to be a Millionaire. While on a trip to New York, she took the test to be on the show, passed it, and went on to the interview portion of the process, during which she told a hilarious story about the band performing at a nudist colony. She figures that the story and her talent for yodeling cinched the appearance on the show. Although she didn’t make it to a million, she did walk away with $25,000, which she and Jack used to travel to Hawaii.


Debbie Daniel has been a member of the Poetry Society of South Carolina for 28 years. During that time, she has amassed an impressive record of 32 contest wins, putting her far in the lead for the most contests won in the 21st century. This includes winning the Society Prize, the most prestigious of all PSSC prizes, which was her very first contest win in 2000.


Thank you to Nancy Dew Taylor, board member, for her contributions to the Members in the News section below.


Listening for your voices,


Tamara Miles

President

 

Please note a correction to the seminar time: 10-11:30 a.m. The CLS would like to lock its doors by 12 on Saturdays, please and thank you.


October 14 and 15: Han Vanderhart

Reading, 7:00 pm, Friday (Free and Open to the Public)

Seminar, 10:00 am, Saturday ($10 for members; $15 for non-members; Students and Zoom Attendees get in free).



Location: Charleston Library Society, 164 King St., Charleston, SC 29401


A reception and book signing follows the reading.

Simple directions to join on the night of the reading: click on this link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85813316260?pwd=QVBlNHZOeDFyZURNenBoRUFmQlRYdz09 ************************************** To attend the Saturday seminar on Zoom (observation only), use this link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84498035704

2022-2023 Program For those who are new: the Poetry Society's official calendar runs from September to May. The traditional program of readings for this year is provided below. Scroll down for more information on individual poets and visit the PSSC website for greater detail and to RSVP. The events are the second Friday of the month and the Saturday that follows it. Each poet presents a reading and seminar. With the exception of February and March, all events will take place on the second Friday of the month at the Charleston Library Society. February and March locations are to be determined.

September 2022: Melissa Crowe October 2022: Han VanderHart November 2022: Jaki Shelton Green December 2022: Holiday Party January 2023: Member's Open Mic February 2023: Tarfia Faizullah March 2023: Jill McDonough April 2023: Raena Shirali May 2023: Glenis Redmond

 

Nov 11 and 12: Jaki Shelton Green

Reading, Friday 7 p.m.

Seminar, Saturday 10 a.m.


Jaki Shelton Green, ninth Poet Laureate of North Carolina appointed in 2018, is the first African American and third woman to be appointed as the North Carolina Poet Laureate and reappointed in 2021 for a second term by Governor Roy Cooper. She is a 2019 Academy of American Poet Laureate Fellow.

 

February 10 and 11: Tarfia Faizullah Reading, Friday, 7 pm Seminar, Saturday, 10 am

Tarfia Faizullah is the author of two poetry collections, REGISTERS OF ILLUMINATED VILLAGES (Graywolf, 2018) and SEAM (SIU, 2014). Tarfia’s writing appears widely in the U.S. and abroad in the Daily Star, Hindu Business Line, BuzzFeed, PBS News Hour, Huffington Post, Poetry Magazine, and many more.

 

March 10 and 11: Jill McDonough

Reading, Friday, 7 pm

Seminar, Saturday, 10 am

Three-time Pushcart prize winner Jill McDonough is the recipient of Lannan, NEA, Cullman Center, and Stegner fellowships. Her most recent book is Here All Night (Alice James, 2019). She teaches in the MFA program at UMass-Boston and offers College Reading and Writing in Boston jails.

 

April 14 and 15: Raena Shirali

Reading, Friday, 7 pm

Seminar, Saturday, 10 am

Raena Shirali is the author of two collections of poetry. Her first book, GILT (YesYes Books, 2017), won the 2018 Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award, and her second, summonings (Black Lawrence Press, 2022), won the 2021 Hudson Prize. Winner of a Pushcart Prize & a former Philip Roth Resident at Bucknell University, Shirali is also the recipient of prizes and honors from VIDA, Gulf Coast, Boston Review, & Cosmonauts Avenue. Formerly a Co-Editor-in-Chief of Muzzle Magazine, Shirali now serves as Faculty Advisor for Folio—a literary magazine dedicated to publishing works by undergraduate students at the national level. She holds an MFA in Poetry from The Ohio State University and is an Assistant Professor of English at Holy Family University. The Indian American poet was raised in Charleston, South Carolina, and now lives in Philadelphia.

 

May 12 and 13: Glennis Redmond

Reading, Friday 7 pm

Seminar, Saturday 10 am

Glenis Redmond is a performance poet, a Kennedy Center Teaching Artist, and a Cave Canem alumni. She is the author of three books of poetry: Backbone (Underground Epics, 2000), Under the Sun (Main Street Rag, 2002), and What My Hand Say (Press 53, 2016). She will have three more books published in 2022: Listening Skin (Four Way Books), Three Harriets & Others (Finishing Line Press), and Praise Songs for Dave the Potter, Art by Jonathan Green, and Poetry by Glenis Redmond (University of Georgia Press). She is presently working on a seventh collection, Port Cities: Portals of the Second (Domestic) Middle Passage.

 

Members in the News

Susan Craig’s chapbook Hush was published in August by Seven Kitchens Press in their Summer Kitchen Series Volume 10, a limited-run, handmade edition featuring five poets. Susan will also be reading at Litchfield Tea and Poetry’s January 2023 meeting. Richard Allen Taylor has reviewed Dana Levin's new book Now Do You Know Where You Are for a future issue of The Main Street Rag. Richard is the author of ARMED AND LUMINOUS available from http://mainstreetragbookstore.com/?product=armed-luminous. Evelyn Berry will be the featured poet at Art v. Life in Fayetteville, NC on October 7th. She is also leading the Poetry Roundtable during SCWA’s Virtual Conference on October 7th-October 9th. Her poem “The Joy of a Biscuit” is featured in the September issue of Local Life Magazine. Her book review of Nevada by Imogen Binnie was published in the latest issue of Gigantic Sequins. Gilbert Allen's "A Short History of Stone Age Rock" appeared in the 2022 issue of Salt. You can find another high caliber poem at https://newversenews.blogspot.com/2022/07/thirteen-days-on-nra-civil-rights.html . H. Sandra Bregman has been recognized by the Palmetto Trail as the winner of its 2022 Poetry Contest with her poem "Reflections." Entries were judged by the City of Columbia Poet Laureate, Dr. Ed Madden, and sponsored by Ann-Chadwell Humphries, poet. Marlanda Dekine and Libby Bernardin are on the strandlinebreak Featured Artist list, in anticipation of their first Tuesday Duet, 10/4 @ 6 pm ET. Marlanda Dekine brings glimpses of a new multi-arts work Thresh and Hold: A Communal Ceremony. Libby Bernardin brings her brand-new book House in Need of Mooring (Winston-Salem, NC: Press 53, 2022). This event promises spectacular poetry and an abundance of Duet synergy. Q&A and Open Mic will follow the Duet. All are welcome. Hosted by Wm Epes.

Kim-Blum Hyclak has shared a monthly reading and open mic, Afternoon of Poetry and Prose. The gatherings are held the second Sunday of the month, August through April, 2:00 - 4:00, at The Mercantile. This event begins with a Feature Reader and end with open mic. Because they are so close to Charlotte, NC, they have Features from both North and South Carolina. Libby Bernardin will be giving readings from her new book House in Need of Mooring in October and November. If any are near you, I hope you will attend. October 2 Buxton Books Charleston 4pm October 11 Movable Feast at Café Piccolo 11am Pawleys Island November 10 Stormwater Studios Columbia 5.30pm November 15 Pat Conroy Studio Beaufort 5:00pm Her book will be available to purchase at these venues and by order at Press 53.com. And you? What are you up to? Send me word.

 
 

You can see that I was wearing my PSSC t-shirt in the photo above -- and I love my PSSC mug for sipping espresso prepared with our newly donated Nespresso machine at the Columbia hub (thank you, Danny Sciortino!) Take a look at what else is available. A portion of the proceeds goes to the Poetry Society. 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.


The Prompt Contest will take a hiatus until further notice. Stay tuned..

 

Copyright © 2022 The Poetry Society of South Carolina, All rights reserved.


Photo credit: unknown

Editor: Tamara Miles


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