top of page

"The Spirit in Us"

A Letter from the President

And we are in November, friends. The earth transforms, and we adjust ourselves to cooler nights. We bring in the plants, and think of lighting a fire and putting on warmer clothes. I've been reading "The Year Outgrows the Spring," by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, in which she recommends accepting change because it is so natural.

"The spirit in us, like the grosser frame,

Outgrows the garments which it wore last year."

What's there to do, but let it take wing and fly? While you're at it, fly over to the Contests section because the Fall round is only open until November 15! And see below for our October escapades.



Here's what happened in October, rewinding from Oct. 29, when we had another Poetry Church at Jubilee! Circle's The Living Room

Thank you to Al Black for putting this event together, and to all the fabulous talent that came out to perform.

On October 28, we were at Edisto Blackwater Boogie festival, bringing poetry to the mix! Thanks to Janet Kozachek, our Community Outreach Coordinator, for making the arrangements.

October 22 -- another Poetry Church, this one at the Unitarian Church in Charleston. Thanks so much to Scott Morgan and everyone at UU for inviting us and making us feel at home, and to Al Black for not only setting things up but donating his honorarium to the Poetry Society!

October 13 -- our traditional guest reading with Sarah Cooper and Eugene Platt at Gage Hall. Special thanks to Buxton Books for setting up the table with Sarah and Eugene's books!

Reminder: Buxton Books would like to change things up a bit starting in November by inviting us just around the corner to the bookstore for wine and signings after Willie Lee Kinard III's reading. So please come along!

The Saturday workshop with Sarah was also a meaningful time, with folks in person at Gage Hall and on Zoom.

I'll be back with a November report in the next newsletter, but let's move on to the Writer's Group, Jim Lundy's Member Feature, and Upcoming Events, followed by Members in the News and the results of the latest Poetry Prompt contest.


Member Spotlight: Nancy Ponder

By Jim Lundy

This month’s Spotlight will be a little different: it is posthumous. On October 18, longtime PSSC member Nancy Ponder passed away peacefully under hospice care at the age of 87. In her heyday with the Poetry Society of South Carolina, she was one of the all-time most prolific prize winners, ultimately winning 27 contests over a 15-year span. Since few Society members today will remember her, I would like to share a brief account of her life and, especially, her time and service to the Society.

Nancy was originally from Erie, Pennsylvania. She married Jim Ponder, and they had four children. Eventually she would become a grandmother and great-grandmother. She served as a Cub Scout Den Mother and Girl Scout leader. Throughout her life she relentlessly pursued creative and literary pursuits; she was an avid reader, a floral designer, and a nature lover. Her writing was widely published and even appeared in Cosmopolitan and The New Yorker.

Like many people, she came to poetry somewhat later in life. She was in her fifties when she first became a member of the Poetry Society in the 1989-1990 calendar year. Never one to sit on the sidelines, this was also the year she first served on the board, getting her feet wet in the operations of the Society as a member at large. She would go on to serve a total of 7 straight years as the treasurer, and she also did double duty as program chair, selecting the poets who would read for the group between 1993 and 1995. All totaled, she was on the board continuously for 9 years from 1989 to 1998.

Following the sudden death of well-loved PSSC Writers’ Group facilitator Kinloch Rivers in the spring of 1989, a call for donations for a memorial was answered generously by the membership. A portion of the resulting fund was used to publish a memorial hardcover edition of Kinloch’s poems, but there was still a pile of money left over. In 1993, Nancy was instrumental designating those funds to kick off the Kinloch Rivers Chapbook Contest. Ultimately, 10 chapbooks were published in this series, a few of which are counted among the best work ever associated with the Poetry Society.

In the early 1990s, the PSSC’s board had been looking forward to celebrating the 75th anniversary of the group’s founding with a gala that would take place in January 1996. In advance of that, a committee was formed to plan and prepare special events for the anniversary year. Preparations included publishing an anthology of all the poems that won the prestigious Society Prize since 1921. Nancy volunteered to serve on the anthology committee by doing the research for the book. This entailed scouring the old Yearbooks, starting with the 1921 edition, and painstakingly transcribing the poems and board member lists. The resulting 139-page anthology was published in a limited run of 300 copies in time for the gala.

Nancy was part of the Poetry Society’s Writers’ Group, then run by Constance Pultz after the death of Kinloch Rivers, and it was during that time her work achieved a high level of craft. Nancy entered contests from the first year she joined and last won a contest in 2005. In that span of 15 years, she won contests every year but 2000 and 2004. Her total of 27 contest wins includes 4 Forum Prizes, which are chosen by audience vote at the annual May meeting. Since Nancy won the 1991 Society Prize, her poem “Like Her Mother Says” is included in the 75th anniversary anthology. As far as I can tell, this is the PSSC’s only prize-winning poem that describes a suicide by exsanguination.

A memorial service will be held Thursday, November 16, 2023, in J. Henry Stuhr, Inc., Mt Pleasant Chapel, 1494 Mathis Ferry Rd., at 6:00 pm. The family will receive friends an hour before the service.

Finally, I’d like to leave you with a poem of Nancy’s. It won the 1996 Forum Prize. After contemplating all of Nancy's 27 winning poems, I gave up on trying to pick the best, because they are all outstanding. This particular one tickles me because of the term “spraddle-legged,” and that’s as good a reason as any to include it here. I hope you enjoy this poem from the late, great Nancy Klemm Ponder:

Great Aunt Daisy

It wasn’t wall-to-wall

or an oriental heirloom,

just run-of-the-mill


But Aunt Daisy

Spraddle-legged her way

Along the hallway,

Walking on the outer edges

of the runner.

Even wear her destination.

Coming back

on the woven flowers

she chose to step only

on hydrangeas or lilies,

preserving the roses,

making them last.


The November Reading

November 10, 2023:Willie Lee Kinard III

with opening reader Cassie Premo Steele

Charleston Library Society

164 King Street

Charleston, SC 29401

Also Live Zoomed

Willie Lee Kinard III is a poet, designer, educator, and musician forged in Newberry, South Carolina. His debut poetry collection, Orders of Service, the winner of the 2022 Alice James Award, is forthcoming from Alice James Books. Please see our website for more information about this wonderful poet.

Cassie Premo Steele, Ph.D., is a lesbian, ecofeminist, mother, poet, novelist, and essayist whose writing focuses on the themes of traume, healing creativity, mindfulness, and the environment. She is an award-winning author of 16 books and audio programs ranging from novels to poetry and nonfiction and scholarship. Please see our website for more information about Dr. Steele.

To enjoy this reading through Zoom, click this link on the night of the reading:

Meeting ID: 814 1006 1146

Passcode: 421801

One tap mobile

+16469313860,,81410061146#,,,,*421801# US

+19292056099,,81410061146#,,,,*421801# US (New York)

Saturday seminar/workshop with Willie Lee Kinard III, Nov. 11:Seminar Topic: To Birth a Trickster: On Folk Anti-Heroes & Writing Survival, a brief dive into the storytelling traditions of the American South & a few figures in popular trickster mythologies, exploring how gestures to orature & folklore influence contemporary poetry, &, more specifically, some of the work in my collection, Orders of Service. Join Zoom Meeting Meeting ID: 815 7104 4063 Passcode: 777583 *If you are attending in person, please pay for a workshop/seminar at our website. Scroll down until you see the seminar options. Note that there is also a Zoom attendee registration, just to help us keep up with how many are attending. Thank you.

Main (Traditional) Program for the Upcoming 2023-2024 Calendar Year

*Other events such as regional workshops, readings, etc. will be listed separately on our website and featured in the newsletter when possible.

Readings are at 7 p.m., on the 2nd Friday of each month with rare exceptions. They are free and open to the public. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Unless otherwise specified, events take place at the Charleston Library Society, 164 King Street, Charleston, SC 29401 and are also Zoomed live. An alternative location referenced for some events is Gage Hall, part of the Unitarian Church, 4 Archdale Street, Charleston, SC. Finally, please note the changed location of our annual holiday party. We will host this party for the first time in Columbia, at The Living Room.

Workshops are at 10 a.m. on the following day after the guest reading (Saturday). They are $10 for members and $15 for non-members, with the exception of Zoom attendees (observation only) and students, who may attend free. Payments are made at the website using the Join Us (and Workshops) tab. Details are subject to change, so always consult our website for the most current information. Members have also received a complete program with your Yearbook.

November 10 and 11, 2023: Willie Kinard III with Cassie Primo Steele

December 8 , 2023: Annual Holiday Party and Member Showcase

January 12, 2024: Members' Open Mic

February 9 and 10, 2024: Maya Marshall with Richard Allen Taylor

March 8 and 9, 2024: Angelo Geter

April 12 and 13, 2024: Tarfia Faizullah

May 10 and 11: May Forum with John Hoppenthaler

Join us as you can for any or all events! It's going to be a magnificent program. Thank you to Danielle DeTiberus, former Program Chair for lining up the main readers for us one more time, and to Jessy Hylton, current Program Chair, for organizing our Opening Readers! And now for a special round up from Ann Humphries' October adventures in poetry and more. She sent me these wonderful photos of a poet in public, an ambassador for the Society. This is a good way to transition to the Members in the News section (and don't forget the Poetry Prompt Contest a little further down!)

"When the frost is on the punkin" ... I'll write to you again.

Every Corner, Every County!



Members in the News and other Community Events

Al Black, the host of Mind Gravy Poetry, presents poet Terri McCord with music by Lang Owen, Wednesday, Nov. 8, at Cool Beans Coffee in Columbia. Tanner Crunelle has generously arranged for a 15% discount for all PSSC members to the three sessions of the Charleston Literary Festival that feature poets! See below the descriptions of the sessions for a code and link. KATHERINE RUNDELL with Edoardo Ballerini: Super-Infinite Saturday, Nov. 11th, 4-5pm, Dock Street Theatre Katherine Rundell’s biography of the English Elizabethan poet and preacher John Donne has been a literary sensation in the US and UK, “a wonderful, joyous piece of work” (Maggie O’Farrell). Who knew that it would be possible to introduce Donne to a new generation of readers in such a spectacular way? The secret lies in Rundell’s dazzling writing, wit and passion for her subject – perhaps the greatest and most daring love poet in the English language as well as celebrity Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Together with Edoardo Ballerini, actor and celebrated reader, Katherine Rundell, scholar, nature writer and roof-walker, brings John Donne alive. PAUL MULDOON: Ways With Words Friday, November 11th, 4-5pm, Dock Street Theatre A leading member of the great generation of Northern Irish poets that includes Séamus Heaney, Paul Muldoon has been Oxford Professor of Poetry, won the Pulitzer Prize, and is now Professor in the Humanities at Princeton. He collaborated with Paul McCartney to produce two volumes of the ex-Beatle’s lyrics (2021), which shed light on McCartney’s ways with words. Paul Muldoon, the most beguiling of contemporary poets, also writes and plays rock music in Princeton bands. He reads from his work and discusses the relationship between poetry and song, including the impact of one genre on the other in his and other writers’ creativity. P. GABRIELLE FOREMAN, GLENIS REDMOND AND JONATHAN GREEN with Malika Pryor-Martin: Potted Poems: Praise Songs for Dave the Potter Thursday, November 9th, 12-1pm, Dock Street Theatre David Drake, an enslaved man in South Carolina (born around 1801), is recognised as one of the United States’ most accomplished potters, with work displayed in museums and galleries across the nation. Uniquely, his jars contain eloquent inscriptions and poems, flaunting his literacy, prohibited among enslaved people. In conversation with Malika Pryor-Martin, International African American Museum Chief Learning & Engagement Officer, P. Gabrielle Foreman focuses on David Drake’s legacy as a writer, and internationally celebrated visual artist Jonathan Green with Greenville’s first poet laureate Glenis Redmond reveal how their creativity has been inspired by David Drake. P. Gabrielle Foreman is a MacArthur Genius Award winner and an endowed professor of English, African American Studies, and History at Penn State University. Special for Poetry Society of South Carolina members: 15% off these sessions with code “POETS15” Terri McCord also has forthcoming publications in South Dakota Review, Kakalak 2023, Rogue Agent, North Dakota Review, Pinhole Poetry Review, and Pinyon Review 30th Edition. And, Al's latest Poetry of the People features Amy Drennen. Jim Lundy has shared the following and suggests that we gather up a group for this! Let us know if you are interested.The City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department is seeking artists in music, theatre, dance, visual art, media art, and literature to perform or present at the 2024 North Charleston Arts Fest to be held May 1-5. Regional and local artists and community organizations are welcome to submit an application to perform on stage or present their talents through programs such as exhibitions, lectures, demonstrations, workshops, and more. There is NO application fee. Applications will be accepted through the online submission platform until Friday, December 15, 2023. Agents submitting applications on behalf of two or more acts should complete and submit this form. DO NOT apply via the online link. Contact us at 843-740-5854 or for assistance. Glenda Bailey-Mershon shared the following upcoming event for Florida folks:

Ed Madden has been featured in Columbia Living Magazine.

Jacquelyn Markham, author of Rainbow Warrior, participated in the poets panel at the Pat Conroy Literary Festival in Beaufort in October.

She will lead a workshop, “When the Heat of Feeling Warms the Intellect: Poetic Forms to Express Your Experience” on December 12, 6p.m. at the Pat Conroy Literary Center in Beaufort.

Who should attend this workshop? Those who love language and long to express their experiences in words. Any level can take away some tips for the process of hearing and expressing what Levertov calls our “constellations of experience.”

For more information, visit the Pat Conroy Literary Center website at

Eugene Platt and Wesley Moore are giving a fiction and poetry reading at Hurd/St. Andrews Library on Thursday, November 9, 6-7:30 p.m.

I'd like to make a late mention of Grace Claire Przywara's "Eulogy for My Parents," originally published in the yearbook of the Poetry Society of South Carolina (2023) as the winner of the Dr. Linda Veldheer Memorial Prize.

Amy Randall shared the following:

On October 25, the Upstate Poets and the Poetry Society of SC were In Conversation at M. Judson Booksellers in Greenville. You can watch the video here:

Readers featured:

Gilbert Allen

Roxanne Cordonier

Ashley Crout

James Engelhardt

Terri McCord

Arthur McMaster

Teresa Miller

Amy Randall

Sue Renault

Jo Angela Edwinswas featured at a Poetry Book Club event hosted by Coast Brewing and Itinerant Literate Books on October 21, 2pm – 3pm. Special thanks to our Vice President, Len Lawson, for organizing the ongoing book club events.

Janet Kozachek has shared the following:

The annual three-day South Carolina Humanities Festival featured Orangeburg County this year. In conjunction with this event, on October 20 PSSC member and Columbia regional community coordinator Al Black, and PSSC member and community outreach coordinator Janet Kozachek organized a spoken word performance and poetry reading event with Mind Gravy Poetry at the Orangeburg County Arts Center. Spoken word artists were Christopher (“Crisso”) Blackman, Geordin Brigman and TK Hampton. Poets were Al Black, Maria Collum and Janet Kozachek.

In keeping with current events, PSSC president Tamara Miles hosted a "Hebrews in the Humanities" seminar at Orangeburg Calhoun Technical College during the three day Humanities festival, which featured a reading of PSSC member Nathaniel Wallace’s poem “The Coming Street Cemetery – Charleston, South Carolina."

The Poetry Society of South Carolina made its debut at the annual Blackwater Boogie Festival at Ghiven’s Ferry State Park. We had the Riverside Stage on the Saturday evening of the Hunter’s Moon, October 28. There was music, good food, dancing, and local brews to savor. Participating poets were Tamara Miles, Jessica Hylton and Janet Kozachek. We wish to thank Hugo Kryspen, from Friends of the Edisto, and Dan Riley, Blackwater Boogie organizer, for their gracious invite.

Jessy Hylton has shared the following:

Thanks so much for the great turn out for Janet Kozachek's monstrous reading this week! (Featuring her book My Women, My Monsters).

Let's keep up that momentum as we roll into November with Kayla Jessop!

From Richard Allen Taylor, a message: Dear Friends and Fellow Writers: Thanks again for your continuing interest. This is a quick message to let you know that my website has been updated to include NEWS AND EVENTS - added readings in Charleston and Chapel Hill BOOKS - added a bundling option BLOG - added Alarie Tennille's review of Letters to Karen Carpenter Look under my signature below for links to the Main Street Rag Bookstore or my website. Peace, Love, and Good Writing! Richard Richard Allen Taylor Author, LETTERS TO KAREN CARPENTER AND OTHER POEMS available here Check out my new website: Richard Allen Taylor, Poet The Living Room, a community event center that also houses the Columbia Hub of the Poetry Society, will now be offering classes of various kinds: poetry, art, enrichment, spiritual development/interest, gardening, yoga, guitar, and more. Tamara Miles will soon be teaching some classes, as will Glenda Bailey-Mershon and others. More to come on that soon. Would you like to teach a class? You are not limited to the subjects mentioned here. Tell us what you have in mind and whether you want to teach in person or online: What events or publications have you got coming up?


And... we're still looking for guest housing for our program poets, so let me know if you can help! Find Society merchandise below, followed by the Poetry Prompt Contest.


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.

Thank you to everyone who submitted a poem this month, and to Maria Collum, who served as the judge for our latest contest. The winner: "Instead," by Joanna Schuman of Pickens County!

Here are some thoughts from Maria, followed by the complete poem:

"For the theme, I like this one best. It struck me that the speaker disassociates from the friend's negative response by re-engaging with something fundamentally nurturing. I liked that juxtaposition."


I send her a letter

asking for peace,


for mending our broken relationship.

She replies

with pages of vitriol, accusations,


and blatant lies.

I am stunned,

but decide

not to reply.

I select two onions,

one yellow, the other red,

some garlic, a purple eggplant,

deep green zucchini,

ripe tomatoes,

peppers and fragrant spices

and proceed to prep them,

chopping them carefully,

appreciating their colors,

their textures,

their scents.

I make ratatouille.

As the inviting aroma

fills my warm kitchen,

I am somehow comforted,


Spooning ratatouille

into my favorite bowl,

I sit down

and eat.

(Congratulations, Joanna!)

This month's prompt, in keeping with the theme of this newsletter, is "spirit". An alternative could be "a poet in public". Submit a poem or piece of flash fiction related to one or both of these themes. Take this in any direction you want. We'll announce the winner in December.

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

Our mailing address is:

The Poetry Society of South Carolina

P.O. Box 1090

Charleston, SC 29402

Our web address is:

Find us on Facebook at:

The Poetry Society of South Carolina

Want to change how you receive these emails?

108 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page