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"The Secret Ministry of Frost"

Updated: Jan 2, 2023

A Letter from the President


December: a good time for joining Coleridge and the inmates of his cottage "while the nigh thatch/Smokes in the sun-thaw." That pleasing line of poetry comes from his "Frost at Midnight." When I want to ease myself into the last month of the year, I find it helps me to settle with the poet and his sleeping babe, and see the world again "with most believing mind." This is the season when old beliefs and new ones can merge, and we are all in a mingle of holiday spirit. It's the month I was born, so like a true Sagittarius, I draw my arrow back and send it on its way, tipped with frost and landing in your e-mail.


There was a rush of new members during the fall poetry contest, and that was lovely. We have 256 active submissions that are headed over to the judges! I've been reading from the 2011 Yearbook this morning and found Tim Harkins' wonderful "Ebbing Yuletide," which is actually about the post holiday blues. But I love these lines: "My ancestors called it winter./They watched for snowdrops to bloom/and for the ewes to lactate./I'm ready for the next holy day."


Thank you to Charles Watts for gathering and managing submissions. Let's do it again in January. Start now to spread the word, please and thank you.


As you know, we lost the November reading due to Jaki's illness, and Poetry Trails at Santee due to the park's trails being closed for repair. But! I was able to attend Poetry at McCleod, that haunted place whose trees have echoed the voices of a blended history.


Evie Shockley reckoned with those old spirits and ours, too. I brought home her book, Semiautomatic, finalist for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize, and just this morning read ".. carolina won't/stop me from shadowing my passion" ("circe/odysseus/black odysseys"). At the event, I sat with our Vice President, Emily Rosko, and felt grateful to bear witness.



Afterward, I walked the grounds a bit and gathered my thoughts before meeting everyone for Evie's book signing. There were gifts of conversation with Ed Gold and Katherine Williams, (in which I learned about her role in the origins of the McLeod event), and Kit Loney, who charmed me with her handmade book full of art and words and told me about a marvelous project she's working on as we sat on a bench.


 

Part 2 Are you wondering what's going on with Poetry Trails? We won't have a walk in December, either ... too much going on with the holiday season. One more postponement, but in January, we'll be at Azalea Park in Summerville with bells on! After a long break, let's make this one extra special! The poetry contest we started way back in October will continue throughout December, and we will finally give away the second guitar I featured in the previous newsletter, generously donated by Danny Sciortino -- so please get your nature/music poems into me at tamaramilessc@gmail.com, and I'll tuck them away for a judge to read. If you submitted a poem for October or November, you don't need to submit again. I've saved your poems. I really mean it this time! Now, our member feature for December, provided by Jim Lundy:

Member Spotlight: Jacquelyn Markham

Jacquelyn Markham will tell you, “I have spent a lot of time rescuing female poets from obscurity.” Case in point: her 632-page tome, The Complete Poetry of Charlotte Perkins Gilman: 1884-1935, that won the Adele Mellen Prize for distinguished contribution to scholarship. In her long academic career—which she has tried to (and failed to) stay retired from—Jacquelyn has presented scholarly papers on such poets as Joy Harjo and Hilda Dolittle (a.k.a. H.D.). She also made a point to focus on her own career as a female poet by attending poetry workshops at the conferences where she presented papers. Her poetry focuses on themes such as heritage, language, culture, and the environment.


Born in Manistee, Michigan, Jacquelyn escaped the North at 16 years old when her family moved to Alabama for her father’s work with the U.S. Space Program; she has been a Southerner ever since. She attended the University of Alabama Huntsville for her undergrad and then earned an MFA and PhD. at Florida State University. From there it has been a continuous career in academe and, more recently, as an independent writer, speaker, and educator.


It was her tenure at the University of Georgia in Athens in the 1990s that led her to her first encounter with the Poetry Society of South Carolina. A colleague of hers, David Aiken, had left Athens to teach at Charleston Southern University. After settling in, he ended up serving on the board of the Poetry Society in various capacities from president to programming chairman. He scheduled Jacquelyn for a reading in April 1996. Unfortunately, in those pre-GPS days of road trips, she got “hopelessly lost” on her way to Charleston, but was ultimately rescued by David and his wife, Della Jean, who spirited her away to her reading. She remembers the audience being very welcoming and attentive as she read from her book China Baby, which came from her master’s thesis. At the conclusion of her reading, one of our Poetry Society members approached her at the book signing and said, “If you’re not the Poet Laureate of Georgia, you should be!”


Jacquelyn began contemplating a move to South Carolina in 2001 when she attended Spoleto and first learned about the Gullah Geechee culture. It appealed to her strong interest in language and culture, but it would still be a few years before she could leave her job in Kentucky. After an exploratory trip to South Carolina in 2002, she decided Beaufort was the place she would settle, moved in 2003, and has been there ever since. She had previously been an active member in the two Georgia poetry societies, so once she arrived in Beaufort she joined the PSSC and has been a member for much of the 21st century. Due to distance, she had never attended a meeting of the Society in person until we adopted Zoomed meetings with the onset of COVID. Now she’s a regular virtual attendee at the monthly readings. On December 9 she will be part of our Holiday Member Showcase and appear in person at the Library Society.


One of the perks of being in a state of semi-retirement is having the time to focus more on publishing her own poetry. Jacqueline’s latest volume of poetry, Rainbow Warrior, examines the devastating cultural and environmental effects of nuclear testing in the Bikini Islands and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The book is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press and is now in pre-order until December 16.


(Thank you, Jim).


Still listening for your voices,


Tamara Miles

President


 

The CLS would like to lock its doors by 9 p.m., please and thank you. We'll wrap things up at 8:30 p.m.


This will be simulcast via Zoom if you cannot attend in person:


Topic: December Holiday Party/Member showcase

Time: Dec 9, 2022 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)


Join Zoom Meeting

2022-2023 Program

For those who are new: the Poetry Society's official calendar runs from September to May. The traditional program of readings for this year is provided below. Scroll down for more information on individual poets and 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. With the exception of February and March, all events will take place on the second Friday of the month at the Charleston Library Society. February and March locations are to be determined. September 2022: Melissa Crowe October 2022: Han VanderHart November 2022: Jaki Shelton Green December 2022: Holiday Party January 2023: Member's Open Mic February 2023: Tarfia Faizullah March 2023: Jill McDonough April 2023: Raena Shirali May 2023: Glenis Redmond


Bring in the new year by getting on stage and sharing your best poem!


January 13, 7 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.)

Non-members can join and sign up at the door!

Charleston Library Society, King Street


You can also join us on Zoom if you can't make it in person:


Topic: January Open Mic

Time: Jan 13, 2023 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)


Join Zoom Meeting

 

And more guest poets in 2023! February 10 and 11: Tarfia Faizullah Please note that these events will be held in the sanctuary of the Unitarian Church at 4 Archdale Street, Charleston (Friday) and at Gage Hall, same address (Saturday). Reading, Friday, 7 pm Seminar, Saturday, 10 am - 11:30 a.m.

Tarfia Faizullah is the author of two poetry collections, REGISTERS OF ILLUMINATED VILLAGES (Graywolf, 2018) and SEAM (SIU, 2014). Tarfia’s writing appears widely in the U.S. and abroad in the Daily Star, Hindu Business Line, BuzzFeed, PBS News Hour, Huffington Post, Poetry Magazine, and many more.

 

March 10 and 11: Jill McDonough

Please note that these events will be held at Gage Hall,

4 Archdale Street, Charleston.

Reading, Friday, 7 pm

Seminar, Saturday, 10 am-11:30 am

Three-time Pushcart prize winner Jill McDonough is the recipient of Lannan, NEA, Cullman Center, and Stegner fellowships. Her most recent book is Here All Night (Alice James, 2019). She teaches in the MFA program at UMass-Boston and offers College Reading and Writing in Boston jails.

 

April 14 and 15: Raena Shirali

For these events, we will return to the Charleston Library Society, King Street.

Reading, Friday, 7 pm

Seminar, Saturday, 10 am


Raena Shirali is the author of two collections of poetry. Her first book, GILT (YesYes Books, 2017), won the 2018 Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award, and her second, summonings (Black Lawrence Press, 2022), won the 2021 Hudson Prize. Winner of a Pushcart Prize & a former Philip Roth Resident at Bucknell University, Shirali is also the recipient of prizes and honors from VIDA, Gulf Coast, Boston Review, & Cosmonauts Avenue. Formerly a Co-Editor-in-Chief of Muzzle Magazine, Shirali now serves as Faculty Advisor for Folio—a literary magazine dedicated to publishing works by undergraduate students at the national level. She holds an MFA in Poetry from The Ohio State University and is an Assistant Professor of English at Holy Family University. The Indian American poet was raised in Charleston, South Carolina, and now lives in Philadelphia.

 

May 12 and 13: Glennis Redmond

Charleston Library Society, King Street

Reading, Friday 7 pm

Seminar, Saturday 10 am


Glenis Redmond is a performance poet, a Kennedy Center Teaching Artist, and a Cave Canem alumni. She is the author of three books of poetry: Backbone (Underground Epics, 2000), Under the Sun (Main Street Rag, 2002), and What My Hand Say (Press 53, 2016). She will have three more books published in 2022: Listening Skin (Four Way Books), Three Harriets & Others (Finishing Line Press), and Praise Songs for Dave the Potter, Art by Jonathan Green, and Poetry by Glenis Redmond (University of Georgia Press). She is presently working on a seventh collection, Port Cities: Portals of the Second (Domestic) Middle Passage.

 

Members in the News

Evelyn Berry will be performing December 14 as feature for a ZOOM open mic hosted by WordShed NYC.


This free event takes place at 7pm, and you can join in from anywhere in the world! Just join at the ZOOM link found at the WordShedNYC website!


WordShedNYC is a social project built on an all-inclusive platform for writers and artists of all backgrounds, infused with a myriad of cultures to gather and celebrate diversity and a creative renewal.


PSSC member Jacquelyn Markham’s latest collection of poetry, Rainbow Warrior, is available for preorder from the publisher, Finishing Line Press. Presales are important to the publisher and the poet, so thank you for your early support. To order: https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/rainbow-warrior-by-jacquelyn-markham/ Advance praise for Rainbow Warrior: Jacquelyn Markham’s dedication of Rainbow Warrior to Rachel Carson prepares us for the power of this collection. . . . Drawing from indigenous lore, and imagining the voices of the people directly affected, Markham—as though herself listening to the spirit of the sea in a spiral shell, as though heartfully calling on sky power—expresses outrage and terror in the dark necessary reminder that warfare’s bombs and greed’s oil drilling have poisoned our Earth. “I plunge into the water trying/yet I wonder will we survive?” epitomizes the spirit of this strong sequence compelling in silent reading and superbly ready to be performed aloud by many voices. –Katharyn Howd Machan, author of Dark Side of the Spoon and other collections *** PSSC member Jacquelyn Markham’s poem “Wings” will appear on buses in Columbia, SC as part of Columbia Poet Laureate Ed Madden’s “Poetry on the Comet” project. This is her third poem to be chosen for this community project. Charles Watts has two video poems that went live this month on "The Surrealist Society" website at https://vimeo.com/adkfilm : Death Watch & My Only Hope. News from Glenis Remond: Lyric Fest has commissioned eight nationally renowned voices of the 21st century, each of whom has responded to Dowell’s photography with a new poem which is set to music by composer Damien Geter: Charlotte Blake Alston, Nikki Giovanni, Afaa Michael Weaver, Trapeta Mayson, Joe Bathanti, Lauren Alleyne, Alora Young, and Glenis Redmond. The poets will all be presented in video reading their own poem in the context of the performance.*COTTON will be presented at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater by Washington Performing Arts on February 28, 2023, following the Philadelphia premiere. Single tickets for the Kennedy Center performance are available. On December 1st, the Washington School Alumni will host a fundraiser, a kick-off fundraising banquet to create a memorial statue for the historically black school of the 1960's. The event will take place in Greenville at 7 p.m. at the Embassy Suites at 670 Verdae Blvd. and will include performances and remarks by:Washington alumnus, musician and composer Rawn Harbor, Greenville’s first Poet Laureate Glenis Redmond, Greenville Transit Authority Executive Director James Keel, GTA board member David Mitchell.          

And you? What are you up to? Send me word. I'm planning to go to Every Corner, Every County.

 
 

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.


Did I ever tell you why I created this photograph with a taxi-cab from the olden days? Because my mysterious biological grandfather, LeRoy Dale Allen, started driving a taxi when he was sixteen, in Kansas City. It all went well until he started robbing the slot machines at saloons. But that's for another poem, isn't it?


 

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..

 

Copyright © 2022 The Poetry Society of South Carolina, All rights reserved.


Photo credit: unknown

Editor: Tamara Miles


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