I see dead people... all the time
(I admit that I chose this heading for its clickbait qualities)
Because buildings last longer than people do, I live in a city of ghosts. Every time I go for a walk, I see the houses of past Poetry Society members, the places they met for poetry readings, and the graveyards where they are now permanently cooling their heels. I needn’t walk any further than
two blocks from my house to see the former residences of past PSSC presidents Caroline Aimar, Dr. Norman Olsen, John H. Bennett, Jr., and Kinloch Rivers, now all dead and gone. This has made me keenly aware of the certainty that, one day in the very, very distant future, my own house will be a silent memorial for yet another past president of the oldest state poetry society in the country. Time is a theoretical construct created by humans. We count days in a cyclical manner, but years linearly. This allows us to share days with those who came before us, even if the years we inhabit this Earth never overlapped. In honor of National Poetry Month, I gave myself a special challenge on the Poetry Society’s Facebook page to post an item of historical interest commemorating a poetry reading that occurred on each day. Back in February, I compared my personal experience with the 100th anniversary year to walking the Stations of the Cross (yes, I am aware this sounds weird). As the calendar year draws to a close this month, my last Station is to reflect on where the PSSC was at the end of the first season. The final meeting of 1921 took place on May 3 at S.C. Society Hall. Members were allowed to bring a guest for the first time, probably in anticipation of a low turnout because there was to be no famous speaker that night. The meeting was comprised of the announcement of the winners of the prize competitions, the reading aloud of each winning poem and honorable mention, and other announcements of literary achievements that year, such as forthcoming books by both Hervey Allen and John Bennett. It was at this meeting that president Frank R. Frost announced that the membership list was full and a waiting list had been established. It was Frost’s first and last year as president. He stepped down for health reasons at the end of the month. As I sit here today, a century later, holding the same office as Frank R. Frost and at the age John Bennett was then, I can anticipate May activities that will be much the same as they were in 1921—although it is no longer our practice to read the prize-winning poems aloud. While their May meeting was not exactly like the Forum meeting that we hold, several Forum-like events had already taken place that first calendar year. No other tradition in our organization has been as continuous as the annual critiquing of member-submitted poems. Out of the past 100 years, only two Forum meetings were cancelled: the 1939 Forum, due to a polio epidemic, and the 2020 Forum, due to—you guessed it—the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m glad we’re going to be able to come back and cap off the calendar year within this venerable tradition, but this time with a twist: the Forum will be Zoomed. As someone who is always on the lookout for the history we’re currently making, I find it exciting that May 14 will be the first virtual Forum. Inveterate road warrior Keith Flynn is the Forum moderator. He will take his place among a century’s worth of PSSC royalty and special guests who have played the role that John Bennett called “the Supreme Bench of Poetical Appeals.” Keith has read one time previously for us, on March 8, 2013. If you weren’t there, you can not possibly imagine what a treat you are in for when he appears in two weeks for the Forum. I hope you will join me in cyberspace to make Poetry Society history. 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.
The PSSC May Meeting
Our May meeting, the Annual Forum, will be the last regular meeting of the 2021-2021 calendar year, and just as all other meetings of this COVID year, it will take place virtually. Keith Flynn will be the featured poet and Forum moderator. This will be live-Zoomed at 7:00 and then available for viewing from our Youtube channel later on. Keith is also conducting a workshop on the following day, the directions for participating are included further down the Newsletter.
May 14, 7:00 PM
About the Event
Keith Flynn is the award-winning author of eight books, including six collections of poetry, most recently Colony Collapse Disorder (Wings Press, 2013) and The Skin of Meaning (Red Hen Press, 2020) and two collections of essays, The Rhythm Method, Razzmatazz and Memory: How to Make Your Poetry Swing (Writer's Digest Books, 2007), and the forthcoming Prosperity Gospel: Portraits of the Great Recession (Redhawk Publications, 2021). His award-winning poetry and essays have appeared in many journals and anthologies around the world. He has been awarded the Sandburg Prize for poetry, a 2013 NC Literary Fellowship, the ASCAP Emerging Songwriter Prize, the Paumanok Poetry Award, and was twice named the Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet for North Carolina. Flynn is founder and managing editor of The Asheville Poetry Review, which began publishing in 1994. He attended Mars Hill College and the University of North Carolina at Asheville where he won the 1985 Sandburg Prize for Poetry.
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 " May 14 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. May 14 PSSC Meeting Alternate Easy instructions for joining the meeting live: 1. Go to our website: PoetrySocietySC.org 2. You will be taken to the event page. Click on "RSVP" there. 3. Supply a name and email address when prompted. 4. 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 easy shortcuts above: Join Zoom Meeting https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85945282818?pwd=dlB1dlBOQzRrT3ppMGtSeEk2WWJEQT09 Meeting ID: 859 4528 2818 Passcode: 537217 One tap mobile +13017158592,,85945282818#,,,,*537217# US (Washington DC) +13126266799,,85945282818#,,,,*537217# US (Chicago) Dial by your location +1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC) +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago) +1 929 205 6099 US (New York) +1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma) +1 346 248 7799 US (Houston) +1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose) Meeting ID: 859 4528 2818 Passcode: 537217 Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kcSTMlT9Nw
PSSC Zoom Workshop with Keith Flynn: "The Rhythm Method, Razzmatazz, and Memory: How to Make Your Poetry Swing" May 15, 10:00 AM 10:00-12:00 noon You must register. Attendance will be limited to 25 participants. Register here: PoetrySocietySCWorkshop
About the Event
What separates poetry from other writing disciplines is its music. This exploration will focus on line structure and the aspects of language that create inventive rhythm and flow, admitting no impediment. With an emphasis on editing, the discussion will include examples of the power of the action verb, why imagination is more important than knowledge, honoring compression, and exercises designed to make poems more dynamic and muscular on the page. This workshop will show why, as rhythmic beings, we assimilate language through rhythm, and how to use the understanding of rhythm and music to jumpstart the creative process. Part of the discussion will deal with the pragmatic process of getting your work published and what an editor is looking for when choosing a poem. There will be several exercises designed to boost the creative imagination, and prompts that will guarantee that the participants will leave with poems already in motion.
Eugene Platt has been a member of the Poetry Society for over a half century. He has served on the board and has been the featured reader three times: in 1971, 1980, and 1991. His new book, Nuda Veritas is being favorably reviewed. He has generously offered to send a signed copy of the book to the winner of the May Prompt Contest (see details at the end of the Newsletter).
Praise for Nuda Veritas:
A full review by Irish poet Orla Fay can be read here: Review of Nuda Veritas
A poet of discovery, Eugen Platt delves into a vast well of experience and brings to the surface a reverence for family, love, enduring life, and American history. Nuda Veritas distills expansive ideas into delightful verse revealing veneration for the quotidian and attention to detail as minute as a mustard seed.