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December 2020 Newsletter

Updated: Jan 4, 2021

'Tis the Season of Social Distancing Fa la la la la, la la la la

I have been having a lot of dreams lately. They have not been that great. They spring from anxiety. But I have noticed a trend: In my dreams I find myself in large groups of people. It has been nine months or so since that was the case in real life. My subconscious is trying to tell me that something is amiss. And I'm an introvert; this is should be my wheelhouse! I can only imagine what people who actually enjoy large groups are going through right now. When the founders were imagining what form the Poetry Society of South Carolina would take in 1920, they knew that Charleston had only a dozen or so poets, or people interested in learning to write poetry. There were certainly not enough to fund the renaissance in Southern literature that they envisioned. That did not worry them. They knew that people like to get together for interesting stuff and then have a cocktail party mixer. They got the word out that an exclusive group was forming by invitation only. The membership list was full by the second year. As they say, nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd. Over the last 100 years, the Poetry Society has not always had the money to bring great poets to speak at the monthly meetings. That did not worry them. People came to the meetings to see old friends, many of whom they made through the Society. Now that my book about the history of the Poetry Society is closing in on its final form, I have an unrivaled perspective on just what has made the Poetry Society tick. Spoiler Alert: It is not the poetry. It is the society. Perhaps my earliest, most indelible memory of my time in the PSSC is from 15 years ago this month. I attended my first Society Holiday Party. It was held that year at the home of Harriet Rigney on Tradd Street. It was intimidating. I was brand new to the PSSC and felt like I was one of the only people there who did not know everybody else. It was like crashing a family gathering, but everyone there made me feel welcome. At some point, we were told to gather in the stately living room with a roaring fire in the 200-year-old fireplace. We stood in a circle. One by one, people shared poems they had written. Some read famous poems on a Christmas theme. Constance Pultz recited a Christmas poem she had memorized as a girl. Unbeknownst to me, she had just turned 91 a few weeks before. She got through the poem with only a few long pauses to jar some of the words loose from her memory. I did not know anything about her then, but I could see that everyone treated her like she was poetry royalty. She was. The warm feeling I got that night will never leave me. I have had a special place in my heart for the PSSC's annual Holiday Party ever since. And then came COVID-19. We are obviously not having our holiday gathering this year, just as we have not met in person for any PSSC event since February. What we are doing instead is the next best thing, or at least the next best thing we can come up with under the circumstances. I am preparing a little slideshow of Holiday Parties Past with a quick rundown of the history of the December party and how it has changed over time. In terms of the Dickens holiday classic A Christmas Carol, this will be a visit from the Ghost of Christmas Past. Then, for Christmas Present, we will have a showcase of some of the best poets in our group, each reading a poem on a Holiday or winter theme. If you would like to join in the festivities, the Zoom information can be found in the Newsletter below. As for the Ghost of Christmas Future, only time will tell. I would like to think that one year from now we will be gathering in person again. In the meantime, I hope that you and yours enjoy this holiday season and are safe, happy, warm and full of joy. Jim Lundy President, PSSC

The Poetry Society is supported by South Carolina Humanities, a not-for-profit organization; inspiring, engaging, and enriching South Carolinians with programs on literature, history, culture, and heritage.

December 2013. John Zeigler, aged 100, reading his poem at the annual Holiday Party.

The PSSC December Meeting

Our December 11 meeting will take place virtually. This is our annual Holiday Party, this time reimagined for the year of social distancing. This will be live-Zoomed at 7:00 and then available for viewing from our Youtube channel later on.

Time & Location

Friday, Dec 11, 7:00 PM

Zoom Event

About the Event:

This year we are doing a Poetry Showcase along with a short history talk and slideshow of December Parties past (see description in the President's Letter above).

We will start promptly at 7:00 Eastern time. You should start the process of joining the meeting five or ten minutes before 7:00 so you do not miss anything. Easy Instructions to join the meeting live: 1. On the night of the meeting, before 7:00, click on the link below (i.e. click anywhere on the blue text of "December 11 PSSC Meeting") 2. You will be taken to the Zoom website and a dialog box will open. 3. In that dialog box will be a button "Join Zoom Meetings." Click on it. 4. You might be asked to select a screen name if this is your first time in Zoom. 5. You are now in the waiting room and will be let in when the meeting it starts. December 11 PSSC Meeting Alternate Easy instructions for joining the meeting live: 1. Go to our website: 2. Find the event and click on "RSVP." 3. You will be taken to the event page. Click on "RSVP" there. 4. Supply a name and email address when prompted. 5. You will be sent a link for the meeting by email. Use that link to join the meeting on the night of the reading. If you'd like to join the meeting without any of the shortcuts above: Meeting ID: 853 4172 1806 Passcode: 612695 Meeting ID: 853 4172 1806 Passcode: 612695


The PSSC Writers' Group

Lisa Haas Jackson has secured a private Zoom account that will allow the Writers' Group to meet for two hours with no risk of being "Zoom-bombed." If you wish to participate, email Lisa at to get on the invite list. Each month you will receive an invitation via email with sign-in information and a password. Once signed in you will be routed to a waiting room before being admitted into the meeting. These precautions will eliminate the possibility of non-invitees entering our meetings and bombing us with unwanted media. Meetings will be held on the third Saturday of the month from 10 a.m. to noon. There will be no meeting in December. The dates for 2021 will be set in January.

Ann-Chadwell Humphries invites you to join her for a reading on Thursday, December 3rd at 6 pm EST at Hub City Bookstore. Storytelling from her first book An Eclipse and a Butcher selected by Muddy Ford press for the second in their Laureate series— Tim Conroy was their first in 2017. Edited by Ed Madden, professor and Columbia’s poet Laureate. Back cover quotes by Naomi Nye, Jessica Jacobs, and Marjory Wentworth. Publisher Cindi Boiter/Bob Jolly.

It is Time to Renew Your Membership

The mission of the PSSC is to promote poetry and poets. When it became clear that the format of our 2020-2021 calendar year would change dramatically due to COVID-19, we decided to honor all commitments we had with scheduled poets for honorariums. Therefore, our expenditures for the upcoming year will be the same as they would have been if the virus had not dramatically altered the format of the readings and workshops. In short, we need your financial support this year as much as any other.

The 2020-2021 Calendar Year began on July 1st and runs through June 30, 2021.

Joining or renewing is very easy. You can do it online at our website, or through the U.S. mail at:

The Poetry Society of South Carolina P.O. Box 1090 Charleston, SC 29402 Thank you for your support.


Jackie Morfesis announces that her poem, "Diving Deep", will be featured on SC ETV's "The Poet's Corner" which airs after "By the River" on Thursday, December 3rd, beginning at 7:00 p.m. They will also feature a few images of her artwork along with the poem. On Sunday, November 22, Chaplin-based Muddy Ford Press launched “An Eclipse and a Butcher” by Ann-Chadwell Humphries as the second in their Laureate series. Readings were by poets Naomi Shehab Nye, Jessica Jacobs, Marjory Wentworth,Madden, and Tim Conroy with recitations by Ann. According to Madden, “This is a book of resilience and beauty—and love, there is so much love in this book. There are poems of bracing directness and delicate description. I love the economy of her language, how a portrait can be sketched in one line, how straightforward language can carry unspoken cargoes of meaning, …” Claudia Updike writes: After spending part of 3 years living in Japan from 2014-2016, I returned to normal retired life greatly missing Japanese culture. In November of 2018, in conjunction with the Johns Island Public Library, I took the plunge and started a monthly Haiku Workshop. Two years later, we have about 7 members in our Sea Island Haiku Circle. We have not met since last February, except for a recent Gingko Walk to socialize outdoors and absorb some Lowcountry vistas for Haiku inspiration. We have not met virtually, but have talked about it! We welcome new and interested poets to our workshops when they begin again. We do keep in touch with emails, and hope to welcome new Haiku friends in the near future! Contact Claudia Updike at for more information. Terri McCord has been given a Pushcart nomination for her poem "Illuminated by Blue" by Slippery Elm Literary Journal.

The College of Charleston Department of Theatre and Dance's fall 2020 dance concert. dance, deconstructed, included a piece titled "Opposite Infinities," which was inspired by Eugene Platt's poem "Moment." (The choreographer used the last two words of the poem as the title for her work.) Although this dance concert was a video-on-demand production, it is to be repeated sometime next year if circumstances allow. Eugene Platt's book launch for Nuda Veritas took place on November 19 with a Zoomed reading from Buxton Books.

Members, please send poetry-related news to:

Poetry Prompt Newsletter Contest

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 Youtube channel. There is no obligation to record the video, it is only there as an offer if the winner feels comfortable doing it. The November Poetry Prompt Contest asked that you write a poem or piece of flash fiction considering how you or a character you create has been altered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Do you look in the mirror and see a stranger? Do you feel like a different person now than you did before? Does it feel almost like a dream when you remember life before the threat of a deadly contagion? November was a GREAT month for submissions to the Prompt Contest. Emory Jones sent "Stolen Child," Paul Hickey, a new member, sent "Testing the Limits," Yvette Murray submitted two outstanding poems, "Monster" and "I was White." It was a difficult decision, but the winner was Danielle Verwers with her poem "Bird Woman." It perfectly captures the feeling of how this year of COVID has changed us. You can read it below. Thanks to Danielle, Yvette, Paul, and Emory for your wonderful poems! Here is the December prompt: I am a sucker for the annual retrospectives that come out every year. You know the ones: a list of famous people who died during the year, the top 100 albums, books, or movies, month-by-month summaries of the major news events, etc. I find that these lists give me a chance to reflect on the year and how it is never the same world at the end of the year as it was on January 1. Your December challenge is to write a poem or piece of flash fiction on the topic of The Year in Review. It does not have to be about this year, it could be any year of the past or future. Take this in any direction you want to go. Send your submissions to on or before December 31. The winner of the November Prompt Contest: Birdwoman Beady eyed, I stood in the grocery store check-out line, fluttering when someone inched too close, waiting until it was my turn to heave a pricey bird-seed bag on the groaning belt. Torque from a decade turning, rolling out strange, slow moving days, made a stranger of me, turned me into someone who feeds the hungry flocks migrating south for winter, who chats at dawn with hollow boned creatures sipping off-brand black coffee, from a chipped ceramic mug. The bag, you see, was so heavy, I forgot the cream. -Danielle Verwers

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