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September Newsletter

 “The Web as I envisaged it, we have not seen it yet. The future is still so much bigger than the past.” Tim Berners-Lee, Inventor of the World Wide Web. A Letter From the President

To be honest, I have been apprehensive as September approached under the cloud of COVID-19. Until a few weeks ago, I could not be certain that we were going to be able to pull together a semblance of an enjoyable and professional virtual poetry meeting. But I am no longer worried. The barefooted man in the picture above is Glenn Weiss. He coordinated the Democratic National Convention from his living room, and from what I understand, it went very well. Our task is much simpler. You will see several people over the course of the September broadcast: our two guest poets, those introducing them, and even I will make an appearance to open the meeting. We feel certain that we will deliver a quality program on September 11 that you can enjoy from anywhere in the world with internet access. We’ve been practicing. If you miss the live broadcast, you can watch it at any time that suits you later on. And we are making sure it will be easy for you to join in, even if you are not what is considered tech savvy. Two or three clicks of a mouse button should do it. I will tell you how further down in the Newsletter. This is our 100th season, our centennial year. When I think of everything the Poetry Society had to go through to connect to their members and poets over that span of years, I feel lucky that the pandemic hit during the digital age. There was a time when some of the Society’s largest expenses were postage, stationery, and envelopes. Newsletters were typeset and printed on presses at printer’s shops, postcards informing members of the next meeting were typed on a typewriter in the office at 62 Broad Street, telegrams were sent to poets in transit to tell them to look for the man at the train station wearing a ribbon on his lapel who would drive them to Society Hall for their lecture. I love to think about those long-ago times, but I am spoiled by the ease of sending this newsletter to over 600 people with the click of a button for free. And I hear back from many of you every month who reply to me within minutes to tell me you liked the Newsletter or that you have an entry for the Prompt Contest or that I misspelled something. This is an amazing time to be alive. It is also our intention to continue doing internet broadcasts even after in-person readings resume, once it is safe to do so. We have members all over the country, many of them have been with us for decades, and they have never attended a Poetry Society meeting! Well, no longer will there be the haves and the have-nots. On the other hand, none of us on the team is Glenn Weiss. We are new at this. If there are hiccups or you cannot connect to the meeting for some reason, you will be able to watch the proceedings in their entirety at a later time. We can only get better at this as time goes on. Please do not give up on us. We’re a hundred years old but we’re also a newborn at virtual meetings. All might not go as planned, but it might go spectacularly well.

Jim Lundy President, PSSC

The PSSC September Meeting

Our 2020-2021 Season begins on September 11 with a historic virtual meeting featuring Natalie Scenters-Zapico. She will be joined by Sarah Cooper. This will be live-Zoomed at 7:00 and then available for viewing from our Youtube channel later on. 

Natalie Scenters-Zapico is the author of Lima :: Limón (Copper Canyon Press, 2019), finalist for the 2020 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, and The Verging Cities (Center for Literary Publishing, 2015), winner of the PEN American/Joyce Osterweil Award, the Great Lakes College Association's New Writers Award, the National Association of Chicana/o Studies Book Award, and the Utah Book Award. A recipient of a Ruth Lily Dorothy Sergeant Rosenberg Fellowship and a Lannan Fellowship, and formerly on the faculty of the University of Puget Sound, she will be an assistant professor at the University of South Florida this fall. Canadian-American poet, Sarah Cooper, lives in South Carolina. She teaches literature, poetry and women’s studies at Clemson University. Sarah’s poems appear in Lunch, Room, Pligrammage among other journals and anthologies. Her forthcoming chapbook, Permanent Marker, will be released spring 2020 by Paper Nautilus. 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.  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 "September 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. September 11 PSSC Meeting Alternate 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.


PSSC Workshop with Natalie Scenters-Zapico

September 12, 10:00 a.m. to noon

Our workshops are normally ticketed events. However, we have decided that they will be free for current members of the Society as long as we are forced to meet online due to COVID-19. Workshops are interactive for the participants and instructor so attendance on Zoom will be limited to 25 people. To register: 1. Go to our website: 2. Find the event and click on "RSVP." 3. You will be taken to the workshop's event page. Click on "RSVP" again. 4. Supply a name and email address when prompted. 5. You will be sent a link for the meeting by email. Use that link on 9/12 to join the workshop. Natalie Scenters-Zapico will lead the workshop on Saturday, September 12 at 10:00 to noon. The topic is as follows: Writing The (Sur) Real What is the relationship between realism and the surreal? This generative workshop course will let participants turn small moments of everyday reality into surreal moments that highlight the emotional quality that lies underneath. We will read works by poets who engage in surrealism based in the personal, and then go through a guided writing exercise to write our (sur) real works.

Emrys Poetry Journal is open for submission of poetry, fiction, & non-fiction. Submitted poems will be considered for the Nancy Dew Taylor Poetry Award ($250). To learn more, visit

The Blue Mountain Review’s LBGTQ Poetry Chapbook Prize is currently open for submission, judged by Jessica Jacobs and Nickole Brown. 1st Place receives 100 copies of the book and $200.00. 2nd Place receives $100.00. 3rd Place receives $50.00. All those who place will be interviewed in the Blue Mountain Review and on the NPR show, Dante's Old South. To learn more, visit

Poetry Unbound

A new podcast Poetry Unbound will offer an immersive exploration of a single poem in each episode, guided by poet, theologian, and conflict mediator Pádraig Ó Tuama. The first season features work by 16 poets spanning three centuries — including poets laureate, a T.S. Eliot Prize winner, spoken-word artists, and more.

Starting January 27, we’ll release episodes on Mondays and Fridays during the season. Listen to the trailer and subscribe today so you don’t miss an episode:

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. For the rest of 2020 the dates are September 26, October 24, and November 28. No meeting in December. The dates for 2021 will be set in January.

The Poetry Society of South Carolina has asked the 2020 winner of the annual Skylark Prize for the best poem by a student in a South Carolina High School to make a video of her reading her poem. Kiran Narula is a rising Junior at the Charleston County School of the Arts. From Kiran Narula: "Winning the Skylark Prize from the Poetry Society of South Carolina meant so much to me considering this was a very personal and important poem to me. Writing is how I cope with all my emotions and figure out my own feelings; to know that other people appreciate my words and thoughts is something very special to me."

Watch Kiran read her poem here: Skylark Winner.

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. 

2020 Yearbooks

We are currently in the process of preparing the 2020 Yearbook for printing. It will be mailed to all members of the 2019-2020 calendar year in September. If you have moved since you joined or renewed your membership, please send us your new address. It makes us sad to get Yearbooks returned as undeliverable.

MEMBERS IN THE NEWS Jackie Morfesis's poem "Diving Deep" will be featured on "By the River," a collaborative production between USC-B and SCETV that features Lowcountry authors.  Numerous PSSC members and friends have their work in a new little book for this year's bus poetry project, edited by Ed Madden of USC. The theme this is is "Write on Time." Each poet has a poem on the general topic of time on Columbia buses. Dr. Madden will feature a poem a day on Facebook & Twitter in September- dates not yet determined.

Terri McCord's new volume of poetry, The Beauts, is now on preorder with Finishing Line Press. Presales are welcome and help determine initial press run. Collection is due out November 20th. If you want autographed copy, she will take orders and send to Finishing Line Press and make sure you receive your copy, hand delivered if necessary, but probably through the U.S. mail. Contact Terri at Terri McCord has poems that will appear in Slippery Elm and Kakalak Eugene Platt's new book, Nuda Veritas, will be available at Buxton Books (and perhaps other stores) by the end of September. (A shipment left Ireland last week.) Meanwhile, for anyone who just "can't wait," Nuda Veritas is already available on the publisher's website. Derek Berry's poem "fruit archive" appeared in Zingara Poetry Review. Derek Berry's poems "still" & "southern ecology" appeared in Sandhills 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. In the past, winners were offered the chance to read their winning poem at the next Poetry Society meeting, but that will not be possible for some time. There is no obligation to record the video, it is only there as an offer if the winner feels comfortable doing it. The August Poetry Prompt Contest asked that you write a poem or piece of flash fiction on the topic of "uncertainty." We had amazing entries from the following six poets: Linda Sarkany, who probed the brain of Col. Paul Tibbets, Jr. with "Inside Enola Gay;" Jerri Chaplin's poem "Move?" contained many absolutely brilliant lines; Ellen Jenks, one of our most stalwart and valued participants submitted "All the Hugs We Missed;" Brian Slusher sent a clever sonnet entitled "Taken;" Jeanne Kay Juhos reflected uncertainty and hope in her poem "Pray for the Innocent;" and Charles Lord submitted "Fellow Travelers," the winning poem. You can read it below.   Here is the  September prompt: As the month of August unfolded I went from being a pessimist about the new Poetry Society season to being an optimist, full of the promise of technology that can bring more of us together than ever before. Whereas last month we contemplated uncertainty, this month I want you to think about the amazing possibilities of change that arose from the needs of a global emergency to keep the wheels of society turning. Perhaps historians will look at 2020 as one of the most pivotal times in world history. Some things will never go back to "normal." Maybe normal wasn't working for us all that well anyway. What will we gain? What will we lose? These are dramatic times and demand dramatic lines... of poetry or flash fiction.   Take this theme of the possibilities of change in any direction you wish and write a poem or piece of flash fiction.  Respond to this email with your submission by the end of September to be considered for inclusion.  Send your submissions to on or before September 30. The winner of the August Prompt Contest: Fellow Travelers The stainless door moans open, makes a stuttering, unoiled screech, and in they stroll still glistening from their morning on the beach. He’s buff, and just past thirty, crowned by thick black hair. She’s fit, a few years younger, slender, tall, and fair. Preoccupied, and noticing too late, I cower at our elevator’s rear, stymied by their masklessness,  paralyzed by fear. Oblivious, they loudly laugh. He coughs. She stifles a short sneeze. She nuzzles his stubbled, sun screened cheek. He gives her fanny a squeeze. The vault door shudders open again so finally, I can flee, but I fear the unmasked lovers, cursed every breath I’ve breathed. At home, my public mask removed, I kiss my ailing wife, worried selfishness already has honed the cruel contagion’s knife. In an uncertain world of pestilence the brave certainties of youth will blind some fellow travelers to a fundamental truth. All take this ride together. All together, we fall, or rise. Foolish certainties are no excuse, if, by your leave, a fellow traveler dies. © 2020 Charles N. Lord

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