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"The Rearview Mirror"

Updated: Jun 2, 2023

A Letter from the President

Hello, friends. When was the last time you looked in a mirror? Robert Penn Warren, who read for the Poetry Society in 1952, wrote these lines in his poem "The Nature of a Mirror" :

Is this really me? Of course not, for Time is only a mirror in the fun-house.

If so, what does Time make of the rear-view mirror? I drive a lot; I have for as long as I can remember. Driving, typically a forward process even when it is on winding roads, still requires the occasional backward look, and since we can't very well crane our necks, or shouldn't, we train our eyes to look at the view through a device. It seems to me that poetry is often a device for looking backward for something we can no longer see with our eyes. Warren addresses the futility of fixing our eyes on any object with the expectation of keeping it exactly as it is in another poem, "Brotherhood in Pain," in which the speaker observes that a stone we might pick up from a brookside and study before tossing it back will not appear to us again. "By next spring flood, it may have been hurled a mile downstream." It doesn't keep us from looking. This desire to capture what we've seen is also reflected in our photographs. You may have noticed my newsletters are photo-heavy. I have four reasons: to remember, to document, to bring you to the experience, and to encourage members to get to know each other. This newsletter is more photo-essay than anything, featuring the many events of National Poetry Month that I was able to attend including our major program reading and seminar. The narrative tends to move backward to the beginning of the month, as we look in the rear view. Photos include members and potential members... There will also be a new feature added this time around... a "Flashback" to earlier publications that include our members. You'll find that in the "Members in the News" section near the end. On April 29, we had our Paris Mountain Poetry Trails event in Greenville, which was outstanding. Special thanks to organizer and board member Tina Baumis, and to board member Ashley Crout for making the Greenville connections! You'll see our youngest poet below, curiously examining stones and other natural items. Her name is Evelyn, and I knew when I saw her giraffe pacifier that she is going to be a nature poet. The best part of this story is that Evelyn's mother, Caitlyn, just happened to see us gathering and wanted to know what we were doing. When I told her, she and her little princess were delighted to join us, and what an addition they made to our group! We were a total of 15, the biggest Poetry Trails so far.

James Engelhardt, Avis Dawkins, Caitlin Sparace, Evelyn Sparace

Ezgi Ferrand, Gil Allen, Richard Allen Taylor

Gilbert Allen, Claire Bateman, Doris Jones

Ezgi Ferrand, James Engelhardt, Avis Dawkins

Gil Allen, Tina Baumis, Claire Bateman

Amy Randall, Teresa Miller, Richard Allen Taylor, Karen Holcombe, Ezgi Farrand

The night before our adventures at Paris Mountain, board member Ashley Crout and I met some of her friends at Genevieve's (The Peace Center, Greenville) to see and hear Glenis Redmond and the Dead Poets perform. Fabulous event --- and the food... ohhh.

Glenis Redmond on stage

Ashley Crout, Teresa Miller, Amy Randall, Tamara Miles, Jenny

Ashley Crout and Teresa Miller

Also, thank you to Ashley and Stella for housing me!

Rearview mirror: On the way to Greenville, I stopped in Newberry and visited the library, introducing myself and the PSSC, and celebrating Poetry Month in the children's section. Every Corner, Every County means poetry for all ages.


On April 30, to round out National Poetry Month, member Al Black hosted Poetry Church at The Living Room in Columbia. It was a celebration of diverse voices coming together to share their work with an engaged and attentive audience of Sunday morning folks. The idea of Poetry Church is to have a powerful reminder of the transformative power of poetry and its ability to bring people together. Once again I felt inspired and grateful to be part of such a vibrant artistic community.

Al Black

Michal Rubin

Jerred Metz

We had an amazing turnout for Raena Shirali and Libby Bernardin's reading on April 14. If you missed it, you can watch the whole reading on our Youtube channel here.

Raena Shirali

Libby Bernardin and board member Charles Watts

What our readers saw from the podium that night.

Vice President Emily Rosko getting a book signed by Raena Shirali

Thank you again to Buxton Books for hosting the books sales and signings!


The Saturday Seminar with Raena was also a smashing success, with busy minds at work learning about persona...

Raena Shirali and board member Danielle Verwers


There was the exceptional Rally for a SC Poet Laureate at the State House on April 12, organized by Len Lawson and featuring about a dozen poets. Thank you to all who attended and supported us! Write to the governor, please.

Len wrestling the ever-falling sign!

Miho Kinnas and Ann Chadwell-Humphries

Len Lawson

Board member Yvette Murray and Ann Chadwell-Humphries

Evelyn Berry, Lang Owen, Yvette Murray, and Ann Chadwell-Humphries

Ruth Smyrl looking on as Lang Owen makes everybody smile.

Great to see Susan Craig, Ruth Nicholson, and Evelyn Berry in the crowd,

as well as Mrs. Finney, Nikki's mother.

Ann Chadwell Humphries and Nikki Finney

Read Across South Carolinawas held this month -- a celebration of banned and challenged books. We hosted an event at OCtech on April 19! Our members were involved in hosting other events as well.

And... members Janet Kozacheck, Nat Wallace, and Al Black and I met with a couple of local movers and shakers in Columbia and Orangeburg Counties, Tom Cassidy, Seitu Amenwahsu, and Ellen Zisholtz, president of the Center for Creative Partnerships.

Oh! and several folks who have published with Finishing Line Press appeared for a reading together in Hilton Head, so of course I had to be there. Yvette Murray, Jacquelyn Markham, Janet Kozachek, Len Lawson, and Elizabeth Robin pictured above.

There were other events I wanted to attend, but that was about all I could squeeze in. Don't miss the "Member in the News" section this month because there is so much to share!

Every corner, every county, my friends. Let's build more memories for the rear view mirror to hold.

Keep growing and sharing,


2022-2023 Program

For those who are new: the Poetry Society's official calendar runs from September to May. visit the PSSC website for greater detail and to RSVP. The events are the second Friday of the month and the Saturday that follows it. Each poet presents a reading and seminar. All events take place on the second Friday of the month at the Charleston Library Society, unless we notify you of an alternate venue.


This month's Reading:

Glenis Redmond

Annual May Forum

May 12, 7 p.m.

Charleston Library Society

164 King St.


The end of our monthly meetings for the 2022-2023 calendar year takes place on May 12 with the annual May Forum, featuring Glenis Redmond. This tradition has taken place almost every year since 1921 and is the longest tradition of the PSSC. This is free and open to the public.

In 2020 Glenis received the highest arts award in South Carolina, the Governor’s Award. She was inducted into the South Carolina Academy of Authors in April.

Glenis Redmond was born on Shaw AFB in Sumter, South Carolina. She presently resides in Greenville, South Carolina. She was the founder of the Greenville Poetry Slam. Glenis has spent almost three decades touring the country as a poet and teaching artist. She received her MFA in Poetry from Warren Wilson College while touring full-time as a poet and mother-of-twins, Amber, and Celeste Sherer. Glenis is a North Carolina Literary Fellowship recipient and helped to create the first Writer-in-Residence program at the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site in Flat Rock, North Carolina. She served as the Poet-in-Resident for the Peace Center in Greenville and the State Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ. As a Kennedy Center Teaching Artist, for seventeen years, Glenis has created and facilitated poetry workshops for school districts across the country. Her poetry has been showcased on NPR and PBS and has been most recently published in Orion Magazine, storySouth and The New York Times, as well as numerous literary journals nationally and internationally. Glenis believes poetry is the mouth that speaks when all other mouths are silent.

Topic: Annual May Forum with Glenis Redmond

Time: May 12, 2023 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Zoom link for Friday (open to the public):


Saturday's Workshop Topic: The Power of Repetition

In this workshop Glenis Redmond demonstrates how repetition builds rhythm. She will walk participants through poems, activities and exercises that will help them create palpable incantatory poetry. Come write and read. Come stand in your power.

Zoom link for Saturday (observation only):

-- to participate in person, please register at the website or pay in person. Students and Zoom attendees are free, but may not have materials provided or interaction with the poet. (It is at the poet's discretion).


Buxton Books will have books available for purchase.

Opened in 2016, Buxton Books is located on King Street, the main thoroughfare in downtown Charleston. The bookstore specializes in ticketed, dynamic, book-included events both in the bookstore and at many different venues in the city, and they are proud to be the official bookseller for the Poetry Society of South Carolina.


Members in the News (and the occasional new feature, "Flashbacks")

Jim Lundy, the immediate past president of the Poetry Society of South Carolina, will be giving a presentation on the history of the organization at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, May 8, at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Clemson University. He will sign copies of his book, The History of the Poetry Society of South Carolina: 1920-2021, available for purchase. This event is free, but registration is required. Register here.

Avis Dawkins shared a poem that she published back in 2019 in The Petrigru Review, and I noticed other members were in there, too, so this is a flashback! Tamara Miles has started a Substack for Every Corner, Every County. This is yet another way she is trying to share the word about what we're doing on this journey! and... Duet Redux Event Is Rescheduled! Tuesday Duets Redux 5/9 @ 6:00 PM EDT / 11 PM GMT+1—Featured Artists Mark Burns & Tamara Miles bring the second transatlantic collaboration to the Duet series. Wm. Epes is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting. Topic: Tuesday Duets 5/9 Featured Artists Tamara Miles & Mark Burns Time: May 9, 2023 06:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada) Join Zoom Meeting Meeting ID: 823 4742 2839 Passcode: 692927 Richard Allen Taylor has shared an opportunity!

Ann Humphries urges folks to enter Best New Poets...

Best New Poets Open Competition for 2023 is taking submissions through June 1 on Submittable at


Eugene Platt has an event coming up!


Terri McCord participated in the multi-media and collaborative project Bait and Switch, received an Honorable Mention in the 2023 Porter Fleming Literary Competition from the Morris Museum of Art, and she received an acceptance from The South Dakota Review. She is also working on slides or frames of her original artwork with lines from her poetry superimposed.


Charles Watts has three poems included in the new anthology "Bonfire of Poetry." Available on Amazon since April 23, 2023.


Janet Kozachek attended Evelyn Berry's daily prompt event and interviewed her: Poetry month is often celebrated with a thirty day challenge to write a poem for every day of April. There are numerous permutations of this challenge online, often facilitated by prompts written by a poetry group leader. One of the more creative facilitators of prompts this past month was Evelyn Berry. You can read her complete set of prompts on her website. A few of my favorites were those exhorting participants to use common personal experiences that can resonate universally, which is perhaps the crux of poetry. Writing from daily prompts is a challenge for undisciplined souls such as myself, which is why I decided to make this effort. One of the advantages of taking part in prompts as a group activity, however, is to observe how other writers and poets tackle the prompts in creative and engaging ways. While my own output waxed and waned in both quality and quantity, others were able to produce consistent, well honed work on a daily basis. PSSC member Heather McCuen Emerson’s work was a good example. Here is one of her artistic responses to what would seem an ordinary prompt: Prompt: Write about your resolutions. all of my resolutions fall from my mouth as smooth stones. I collect them and place a handful in a junk drawer, a shoe box under the bed, a bin for arts and crafts. they are truly so pretty and well intentioned. I will make them into jewelry, I say, as another one falls from my lips and I catch it in my hand. —H. Emerson In order to find out more about what inspired Evelyn’s prompts, we had a brief conversation: JK: How long have you been writing prompts? Do you do this annually for April? EB: In 2018, I was hosting a creative writing podcast with poets Matthew Foley and Loren Mixon called Contribute Your Verse. During April 2018, we offered daily prompts on a private Facebook group. I continued this tradition through 2020, after which I stopped making the podcast as I prepared to begin gender transition. In 2023, I have decided to bring back the daily prompts in hopes they might help writers complete the 30/30 challenge. I hope this is something I can offer again in 2024! JK: Do you have another venue for posting poetry prompts? EB:I post the prompts, as text, in a private Facebook group, on Instagram, and on Twitter. I also share video versions of the same prompts on TikTok. This year, approximately 10 poets are using the prompts across these platforms to write daily 30/30 poems. I'll make all of the prompts, including prompts from last year, available on my website as a PDF, at the end of the month. JK: What do you consider a good prompt? EB: This year, I've paired each prompt with one of my own poems. I base prompts off of a specific creative choice or element of craft in the poem, then I encourage poets to draw on the same elements. The best prompts, in my opinion, begin as instructions on process, which allow poets to let go of expectations of theme and instead surprise themselves through formal experimentation. Evelyn Berry is the author of the forthcoming debut poetry collection Grief Slut (Sundress Publications, 2024) and the chapbook Buggery, winner of the BOOM Chapbook Prize (Bateau Press, 2020). She's the recipient of a 2023 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Creative Writing, Dr. Linda Veldeer Memorial Prize, Emrys Poetry Prize, KAKALAK Poetry Award, Broad River Prize for Prose, and 5th Grade D.A.R.E. Essay Contest Award, among other honors. Her recent work has appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Gasher, Anti-Heroin Chic, Fatal Flaw Literary Magazine, Taco Bell Quarterly, and elsewhere. Her literary, critical, and educational work can be found at


Jacquelyn Markham has a book launch coming up on May 18! Please see the PSSC events section for more information, and/or visit her website: Dr. Jacquelyn Markham Author of Rainbow Warrior, Peering into the Iris: An Ancestral Journey, China Baby & other titles.


Submissions are open for Kakalak through May 31. Open to anyone Members of the PSSC have made a strong showing in this journal over the years.



And you? What are you up to? Members, send your news by replying to this email.


Hey-ho, we now have PSSC hats. 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. 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.

The Prompt Contest will take a hiatus until further notice. Stay tuned..


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Editor: Tamara Miles

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