Updated: Aug 2, 2022
A Letter from the President
Hello, poets and poetry lovers of South Carolina. What a living heritage we have in this membership. Some of you have been in the Society for many years, and I want to recognize the time, energy, money, and other unique kinds of support you've offered. Those who are newcomers are learning along with me how best to serve the memory of those who came before us all. It's my honor to be serving you and working with you to fulfill the mission of the Poetry Society in our widespread community.
I'm sure you've all been part of a situation when the leader of a group said, "We've got an important meeting/game/gig coming up, and I'm going to need everybody here." Well, that's our new theme song: "Everybody Here." Please have a listen. South Carolina musician and all-around good fellow, Lang Owen, has allowed me to share it as such. He has also agreed to be present when he can to share the song in person. He has a new album just out (I attended the debut at Curiosity Coffee Bar, and it was fabulous).
(Lang Owen -- photo credit and more information at One Columbia.
This is all part of my vision for "Every Corner, Every County," a major project I'm undertaking as your new president. I intend to travel in person or at least connect in a meaningful way with every county in the state to seek poets and community partners, and Lang and others have agreed to go with me when they can.
I chose this project because when I read Jim Lundy's marvelous History of the Poetry Society of South Carolina, I was inspired by what Society folks were doing way back when... when Dubose Heyward was a "Missionary Poet." I decided to take to the streets, libraries, galleries, museums, restaurants, history societies, and pubs and have conversations with real people.
I'm digging for history in the old poets' books and letters, asking even the bones of poets to rise from the Edisto River and the Congaree and Broad and tell us where they went wrong and what they did well. In Frank Durham's article "The Rise of Dubose Heyward and the Rise and Fall of the Poetry Society of South Carolina" (1966), he explains that when Heyward was traveling around "helping to organize other poetry societies, he frequently read from his own poetry and that of others, or gave talks on poetry." This is my dream, and I have already begun my visits. Just this week, I've been to Edgefield and Aiken counties, where I looked around a bit, made some videos, and introduced myself at the county libraries, handing over my new business card and talking up poetry. On Friday, July 1, I'm going to Greenville to do the same.
We have a new office in Columbia, so if you're in the area, let's get together at Jubilee Circle (a Center for Spirituality and the Arts). I can often be found making coffee there in the morning before work and listening to tunes on my modern Victrola. The Curious Poets of Columbia also gather at Curiosity Coffee Bar on Tuesday mornings at 8 a.m. I'm an early bird. I know you will be working behind the scenes to support me and the board in the 2022-2023 season because in the words of John Bennett, publicity isn't worth "three whoops at the gates of Hades" if the society itself isn't doing what it takes to keep us humming.
I believe in you. Thank you for every e-mail, social media share, phone call/text, and dream you offer. Thank you, too, for not only reading and sharing the work of other poets past and present, but talking about it, for the sake of community. Dig out the best. Everybody here's my archaeologist. Now I'd like to feature one member who has truly earned that distinction.
Member Spotlight: Ruth Ilg
Ruth Merkle Ilghas been a member of the Poetry Society of South Carolina continuously since the 1976-1977 calendar year—a total of 46 years! She and her husband Otto moved from their native Germany to Anderson, SC, in 1967 for Otto’s job as a V.P. of BASF, an international chemical company.
One of their neighbors, Francis Mims, was part of a local poetry critique group originally calling themselves “The Pegasus Poets" after the logo of the Poetry Society of South Carolina. They invited Ruth to join them around 1971 or ’72. That group has continued on in various incarnations and is now known as the Foothills Writer’s Guild.
Ruth writes poetry in three languages, German, English, and French. She has won seven PSSC contests during her long membership in the Society and served on the board as a regional advisor between 1977 and 1980. She is also a talented painter and photographer. She co-owned a gallery in Asheville, NC, having only recently retired from running it after thirty years. Ruth and Otto have maintained dual citizenships, American/German, and have homes in Asheville and Konstanz, Germany. Their house in Germany was built in 1422.
They have one son, Dr. Boris Ilg, MD, who lives and practices ophthalmology in Anderson and was a graduate of the Medical University of South Carolina.
"In our own little world, somehow, we're not alone.
Everybody here. Everybody here."
As a final thought, please note the prompt below (above my business card).
What does your desk think about at night? I'd love to know.
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 and second Saturday of the month, and each poet will be presenting a seminar.
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: Yalie Saweda May 2023: Glenis Redmond
September 9 and 10: Melissa Crowe
Reading, 7:00 pm, Friday
Seminar, 10:00 am, Saturday
Melissa Crowe is the author of Dear Terror, Dear Splendor (University of Wisconsin Press, 2019). Her work has appeared recently in Four Way Review, New England Review, Poetry, and Poetry Northwest, and she was the 2021 winner of the Robert H. Winner Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America. She coordinates the MFA program at UNCW, where she teaches poetry and publishing.
October 14 and 15: Han VanderHart
Reading, 7:00 p.m., Friday
Seminar, 10:00 a.m., Saturday
Han VanderHart is a genderqueer Southern writer living in Durham, North Carolina. In 2019, Han received their PhD in English from Duke University and defended the dissertation Gender and Collaboration in Seventeenth-Century English Poetry.They have poetry and essays published in The Boston Globe, Kenyon Review, The American Poetry Review, The Rumpus, AGNI and elsewhere.
November 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, 2014 NC Literary Hall of Fame Inductee, 2009 NC Piedmont Laureate appointment, 2003 recipient of the North Carolina Award for Literature.
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: Yalie Saweda Kamara
Reading, Friday, 7 pm
Seminar, Saturday, 10 am
Yalie Saweda Kamara is a Sierra Leonean-American writer, educator, and researcher from Oakland, California. Selected as the 2022-2023 Cincinnati and Mercantile Library Poet Laureate (2-year term), she is the author of A Brief Biography of My Name (2018) and When the Living Sing (2017).
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
SC Humanities just updated the speaker page for Ann Humphries at “Humanities Out Loud.” Anyone would be fortunate to hear her, so please spread the word. Ann Humphries https://schumanities.org/speakers_speaker/humphriesac/
Eugene Platt has a forthcoming collection, "Weaned on War." The title poem appeared in "Inlandia: A Literary Journey," a California-based literary journal, https://inlandiajournal.net/eugene-platt/. The book will be published this fall by Revival Press in Ireland (Dominic Taylor, Managing Editor) and launched at Buxton Books in Charleston (owned by Polly Walton Buxton and Julian Buxton).
A new chapbook, "A Sense of Unease'" is out with Charles Watt's poem "Watershed" (the one he read at the December meeting) as the leadoff. He also read it at the opening of the "Multi-Cultural Interpretations on how Pollution impacts the Lake Champlain Watershed" project on June 5. Here are some pics and a link to the reading. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1_FxcsF9JCgjFz-bptySZfX9O6CuAMCcaQEP9b_RnAR0/edit?usp=sharing
Evelyn Barry is teaching a FREE workshop Friday July 8th with Sarabande The ZINE! Lunch series features hour-long workshops during which writers create unique zines during their lunch hour. Her workshop will explore the art of tarot, modes of ekphrasis, & of course zine-making. You'll finish the workshop with a zine, a fresh poem draft, & a ritual for poem-writing based on tarot spreads.
All the best-dressed people will be wearing PSSC t-shirts and hoodies this summer, and cooling down with ice-cold drinks from their PSSC insulated mugs. 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.
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..
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Editor: Tamara Miles
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