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"Echoing Voices and Blue Water"

Updated: Aug 4, 2023

A Letter from the President

Hello, everyone. Are you thinking of diving in? Is this the year your feet will rise from the diving board and bounce you into the refreshing waters? Recently, I re-read John Cheever's short story "The Swimmer," in which our hero decides to swim across the county via neighbors' swimming pools. More than once he notices how the water "refracted the sound of voices and laughter and seemed to suspend it in midair." I was reminded of how often I hear the neighbor's children playing in their pool two houses down --- how their delighted screams make our dogs bark and urge me to remember childlike joy, to be present in the moment and enjoy what's right here -- and to declare our independence all over again. Happy 4th of July, friends. I hear America singing.

(image from Ram Dass, Be Here Now)

On the other hand, a poet has to visit past, present, and future to fully explore all the themes that live there, right? So I contradict myself. Here I am with my father at the beach many years ago. Who was the young poet in the yellow swimsuit next to the endless ocean? You may have similar photos, similar memories and reflections of summers past. What poems are hidden there? Have you waded in? We can be here now, but can we be there now, too, with the echoing voices?

Well, this love letter will be short and sweet. I'm headed to New York City next week for a brief vacation. As soon as I get back, on July 8, we have a Poetry Trails event in Orangeburg. Thank you to our summer intern, Sage Short, for designing the beautiful flyer below, and to Janet Kozachek, Community Outreach Coordinator, for getting us in the Times and Democrat. Above all, thanks to board member Tina Baumis, who has led the way from the beginning! OrangeburgMayorPro Tem, Dr. Kalu, will join the Poetry Society of South Carolina's Poetry Trails event at the Edisto Memorial gardens. We will meet in the parking lot across the street from the rose garden at 10:00 AM.

And on July 9, I'm participating in an ekphrastic poetry event called "Tall Women," responding to Ginny Merett's remarkable artwork, hosted by outreach committee member Al Black. Can you guess which painting below I have chosen to write about? (Hint: Can't believe how much the woman looks like me!) Please see the Member News way down below (keep scrolling) for more details!

Al has been absolutely on fire with poetry events, and he still took the time to visit with me and member Eugenia Fain at The Living Room recently. I'm hoping for regular poetry salon meetings there, so if you're in the area, let me know!

Also for Columbia area folks, if you can in pick up a copy of the latest Jasper magazine, you'll find us in there!

The editor left out the lines from Amy Lowell's "Vespers" that inspired the title, so here you go:

Last night, at sunset,

The foxgloves were like tall altar candles.

Could I have lifted you to the roof of the greenhouse, my Dear,

I should have understood their burning.

So... who can we lift up today? How about the winner of the June Poetry Prompt Contest! Congratulations to Ellen Jenks, whose poem "The Healing Time" was chosen by our judge, Dr. Debbie Gideon as the most evocative and delightful one to her ears and eyes today... a symphony of earth and animal sounds. I won't share it here right now because she may want to submit it elsewhere for publication, but let's celebrate the beauty of her poem with every rabbit, frog, fish, cricket, owl, goose, and rooster out there giving us its music.

Speaking of evocative writing, our new V.P., Len Lawson and I met for the first Poetry Club at All Good Books recently and had a marvelous conversation about his book: Negro Asylum for the Lunatic Insane. More Poetry Club experiences coming up! Len also gave a reading and talk at M. Judson Booksellers as part of their In Conversation series. Thanks to board member Ashley Crout for giving the introduction!

Ashley Crout, Amy Randall, Len Lawson (photo credit: Amy Randall)

I love the cover of the red book behind Len, It Could Happen Here.

Anything could happen here.

Billy Baldwin has given us a chance to think about what the most beautiful island looks like in his poem "The Most Beautiful Island." It's a poem I return to again and again. It has something to do with caring for each other.

(from Carolina Ramblings)

Consider this my call: "Are you okay?" Reach out to me with ideas, concerns, questions, and more, and I'll keep coming back with more stories and photos. I'll leave you with a few photos from June 6, when I was the featured reader at Simple Gifts: a once a month poetry reading and music event hosted (again!) by Al Black at the Friends Meeting House on Pisgah Church Road in Columbia. It was extraordinary... and what a joy it was to share the evening with Ann Humphries, Lang Owen, Randy Spencer, Danielle Verwers, and several others. What a lovely place.

Randy Spencer at the mic!

Lang Owen taking in the music and poetry -- Al Black in the background

Al Black at the mic...


The Member Spotlight will be back next month ... Jim needs a vacation.


Members in the News

(and the occasional new feature, "Flashbacks")

Debra Conner was one of 7 national finalists in Press 53’s Prime Number contest. Two of her poems will appear in the next issue of The Cafe Review. Miho Kinnas co-authored a book of poetry with E. Ethelbert Miller. We Eclipse into the Other Side from Pinyon Publishing. Read a quick introduction on Best American Poetry blog Here for an introduction Here is the publisher's page and more news from Miho:

Pat Conroy Literary Center Presents

Haiku Night Featuring Natasha Akery and Miho Kinnas on July 25, 7 - 8 pm.

It is a zoom session and free. Please register at

Miho Kinnas offers a haiku/tanka writing workshop at on September 14 and 21 from 7 - 9 pm EST. It is a zoom class plus writing and critiquing discussions after each class.

You can find out about the details of the course as well as the feedback she has received.


Professor Nathaniel Wallace debuted his poetry along with Professor Emeritus Lawrence Rhu on Tuesday Duets, a program of Strand Line Break, managed by William Epes. Professor Wallace read from his collections, The Toppled Shack and Bergen, North and South. These collections can be viewed on his websites: The Toppled Shack


Poems by two PSSC members, Tina Baumis and Nadine Ellsworth-Moran, are included in the summer issue of South 85 Journal: (Thank you to Lisa Hase-Jackson for sharing this news!)


Do you need to jumpstart your summer creativity?

Moonflower Mentoring may be your rescue remedy!

Jacquelyn Markham, author of Rainbow Warrior, former professor and workshop leader, is now offering her services as a Creativity Guide and Writing Mentor.

She uses a variety of approaches to suit each person’s creative process: one-on-one, workshops, and/or intensive programs. In person and virtual options available.

If your creativity and writing need a boost, consider

Moonflower Mentoring to:

 Nurture Creativity

 Foster Writing Practice

 Inspire New Material

 Guide Current Projects

 Review Mentee’s Work

To learn more about Moonflower Mentoring, contact Jacquelyn Markham. Email:

You are invited to visit her website at

Sound Bites Eatery in Columbia, SC, began the first in their series of dinner performances with music by singer/songwriter Lang Owen and PSSC member Janet Kozachek. The event celebrated the newly released illustrated book of satirical rhymes, A Book of Bothersome Cats, by Finishing Line Press. Ms. Kozachek also read from her previously published works, My Women, My Monsters, and A Rendering of Soliloquies-- Figures Painted in Spots of Time. The food was wholesome and delicious, the company warm and attentive. Also performing that night was a spider engaged in acrobatics on Lang's microphone. The event was organized by Al Black and Mind Gravy Poetry.

And as promised a while back, here's a note from Ginny Merett with mentions of all the readers for Tall Women including PSSC folks:

Join me at The hallway: community art701 Whaley for @ekphrasticpoetryreading July9 from 2-4. Here’s a list of the fabulous featured singer songwriters and poets. Thanks to Al Black

Songwriter, Alison Trotter

Songwriter , Alyssa Stewart

Poet, Janet Kozachek

Poet, Maria Collum

Poet, Jane Zenger

Poet, Tamara Miles

Poet, Cindi Boiter

Poet, Michal Rubin

Poet, Jennifer Bartell

Poet, Kristine Hartvigsen

What events or publications have you got coming up?


And... we're still looking for guest housing for our program poets this fall, so let me know if you can help! Save the date for September 8th's reading with Rebecca Aronson and opening reader Katherine Williams! More on that and other program readers in the August newsletter.

Here's to Every Corner, Every County... let's dive in!

Thank you,



Hey-ho, we now have PSSC hats.

(Mr. Sherlock bear is not available for purchase...)

I love my PSSC mug for sipping espresso, and Tina Baumis looks fabulous in her long-sleeve shirt. Take a look at what else is available, including bags! 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.

You can also pick up a copy of The History of the Poetry Society of South Carolina from Amazon --- and if you enjoy it, please leave a review.


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.

This month's prompt, in keeping with the theme of this newsletter is music. Submit a poem or piece of flash fiction on how music affects our lives. Take this in any direction you want. We'll announce the winner in July.

Send the poems to, and let me know which county you are in!


Copyright © 2023 The Poetry Society of South Carolina, All rights reserved.

Photo credit: unknown

Editor: Tamara Miles

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The Poetry Society of South Carolina

P.O. Box 1090

Charleston, SC 29402

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