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.
-Lisa Hase-Jackson, M.A., M.F.A.; author, Flint & Fire; Editor in Chief, South 85 Journal.
In this ambitious compendium Charleston poet Eugene Platt yaws gently from the heroic to the whimsical, tracing a journey through settings real and remembered in detail rendered with precision and delight. What a gift to have this volume coincide with Charleston’s commemoration of 350 years from its colonial settlement, and likewise to mark 100 years of resolute collegiality for the Poetry Society of South Carolina.
– Scott Watson, Director of Cultural Affairs, City of Charleston.
If you missed the April Meeting with Chad Abushanab and Maria Martin, you can watch it asynchronously on our Youtube Channel. Click on this link. Kakalak is accepting submissions through May 23. For submission guidelines, click this link: Kakalak
MEMBERS IN THE NEWS
PSSC member Elizabeth Robin has won the prestigious 2021 Carrie McCray Nickens Poetry Fellowship. From the announcement: “Elizabeth Robin is a poet of witness and discovery. She relates both true and fictional stories about her Lowcountry present and world-traveling past. Robin emcees a monthly open mic and partners with arts groups to bring literary programs to Hilton Head Island. Her winning poems are all connected as riffs on phenomena in the natural world."
Tina Baumis's poem Gift Shop Jesus was accepted by the Dead Mule School of Southern Literature. The poem will be featured in November 2021 and in their 25th Anniversary issue of Dead Mule. Ann-Chadwell Humphries is the subject of a fantastic article by Bryan Gentry of the University of South Carolina. Read it by clicking on this link: Blind poet's writing brings new beauty into focus
Randall Ivey of Union, SC, reports that he has had two poems published in the April 2021 issue of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture: "Night Reading" and "Geraldine Page." Long-time member Debra Daniel’s novella-in-flash, A Family of Great Falls, will be published by Ad Hoc Fiction. Hers is among the ten novellas there. The contest was judged by Michelle Elvy. Terri McCord’s poem “Digging Deep” has been published in Sow’s Ear Poetry Review. Members, please send poetry-related news to: Flatbluesky@hotmail.com
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. The May winner will also receive a signed copy of Eugene Platt's new volume of poetry, Nuda Veritas. 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 it. The April Poetry Prompt Contest was to write a poem or piece of flash fiction on the topic of illusory superiority, the concept that we see things the way we want them to be. We had three excellent entries by Ellen Jenks, who submitted the poem "The Marlboro Man;" Charles Watts, whose short prose piece was entitled, "21st Century Surrealist Manifesto;" and Danielle Verwers, whose poem "DIY" won the contest. She will receive a signed copy of The Beauts, the new book by Terri McCord. Danielle's poem can be found below. Here is the May prompt: Mother's day is coming up. Motherhood is everywhere right now; spring itself is motherhood. Motherhood has always been a sacred thing: the miracle of creating life within the body. We also speak of Mother Earth, the motherland, the mother of all lies, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Old Mother Hubbard, Mother Teresa, the Queen Mother, mother tongue, wicked stepmother, come to mama... You could think of this whole PSSC calendar year as has having been brought to us by the mother of invention in the form of Zoom meetings. Your May challenge is to write a poem or piece of flash fiction on the topic of "Mother." Mother, motherhood, mothering: how that inspires your entry is up to you. This topic is as old as life itself, so a novel approach is always welcome. Remember, the winner this month will receive a signed copy of Nuda Veritas, the new book by Eugene Platt. Send your submissions to FlatBlueSky@hotmail.com on or before May 31. The winner of the April Prompt Contest:
If it’s got good bones, a little bit of paint can hide a lot of sin. Grandma said this. White primer droplets dotted her hair, brush in hand. Dizzy, I breathe paint thinner smog, scrape layers away, get it off my chest, lime green, baby blue goldenrod. Clay-like clumps of color crumple on a plastic sheet protecting concrete ground. Knuckles ache as wood emerges, abstract grains below a coat of colors, good intentions, coverups. -Danielle Verwers