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What a Long, Strange Trip It's been

Updated: Jun 2, 2022

Jim Lundy presiding over the 90th anniversary celebration on January 21, 2011.

A Letter From the President

Three years ago this month, I was elected president of the Poetry Society. This would be my second stint as president, and, as it turned out, it has lasted three terms, just as my first presidency did. This makes me tied for third place among the longest-serving presidents of the PSSC in the last 101 years, which is plenty long enough. At the upcoming May Forum on the Friday the 13th, a new president will be elected, and I will be stepping down. These last three years were not what I thought they would be—indeed, nobody knew that COVID would turn the world upside down. The main reason I was selected for president beginning with the 2019-2020 calendar year was to have me in place for the year leading up to the giant centennial celebration gala that was scheduled to take place on January 15, 2021. You see, it was during my first three terms as president that we celebrated the 90th anniversary of the PSSC in grand style with Billy Collins as our featured reader. Anyone who was there will remember that night. It was so much fun that the board immediately started setting their sights a decade forward to a year-long celebration of our 100th anniversary during the 2020-2021 calendar year. As I had shown a great deal of interest in the history of the PSSC, it was decided that I would write a book documenting the history of the organization and have it ready in time for the centennial gala, where Terrance Hayes was booked as the featured poet. Of course, that would never happen as COVID spread and morphed and took over our lives, livelihoods, and lifestyles. The Poetry Society cancelled the March, April, and May meetings of the 2019-2020 calendar year and didn’t meet again in person until nearly 2 years later. The 100th anniversary celebration was postponed a year and then permanently cancelled when the Omicron variant made planning impossible for the 101st anniversary. The COVID years were not all bad for me or for the PSSC. For one thing, in our century of existence the Poetry Society had never succeeded in truly being the Poetry Society of South Carolina—the whole state, not just Charleston. It was only during the COVID era that Zoom made it possible to end our complacency in underserving the membership scattered throughout the state and in other states. Zoom also made it possible to have a board that represented the membership around the state. This year, we had Arthur McMaster and Nancy Dew Taylor of Greenville, Evelyn Berry of Aiken, and Tamara Miles of Elgin on the board, meeting monthly with the Charleston-area members from the comfort of their own homes. I used the COVID shutdown to write my book about the PSSC, which I believe is the crowning achievement of my years with the organization; I am immensely proud of it. At first, I was working toward having it available at the 100th anniversary gala, but when that was clearly not going to happen, it gave me an extra year to work on it in time for the 101st anniversary gala (which also never happened). As it turned out, the eventual release came with a whimper, not a bang, but the book garnered local attention with a fantastic, full-page review from the Post and Courier followed by an invitation to appear on Walter Edgar’s Journal, a show I had been a fan of for years. Perhaps the greatest part of these last three years for me was being in touch with so many of you every month through email (and even regular mail). During the loneliest of the COVID times, I still felt connected with other human beings through your kind notes commenting on the Newsletter, reminiscing about the PSSC’s past, and through your entries to the monthly Prompt Contest, which was something I came up with to give members a reason to write a new poem every month. Although this letter seems like I’m saying goodbye forever, I am only leaving the office of president; I will stay on the board as treasurer. I am looking forward to working for the Society in the background and not being the public face of the organization, with all its myriad responsibilities, stresses, and headaches. The May meeting, which is the last one of this calendar year, will feature the incomparable Nikky Finney as Forum moderator. This is as much a reason to attend this meeting (in person or via Zoom) as any reason on the face of the planet. However, if you would like to say hello to me afterwards, I would very much enjoy seeing you at the last Poetry Society meeting over which I will preside. Jim Lundy president, PSSC

The Poetry Society is supported by South Carolina Humanities, a not-for-profit organization; inspiring, engaging, and enriching South Carolinians with programs on literature, history, culture, and heritage.

The PSSC May Meeting Spring Forum with Nikky Finney

Friday, May 13, 7:00 P.M. EST 164 King St., Charleston, SC 29401 This meeting will take place in person at the Charleston Library Society and will be simultaneously live Zoomed.

All our readings are free and open to the public. Join this meeting in person at the Charleston Library Society, or view it on Zoom. This meeting is the annual election of the board for the upcoming 2022-2023 season and will feature a reading by Nikky Finney followed by the annual Spring Forum, which is the oldest tradition of the Poetry Society.

Nikky Finney was born by the sea in South Carolina and raised during the Civil Rights, Black Power, and Black Arts Movements. She is the author of On Wings Made of Gauze; Rice; The World Is Round; and Head Off & Split, which won the National Book Award for Poetry in 2011. Her new collection of poems, Love Child’s Hotbed of Occasional Poetry, was released from TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press in 2020.

May 13 7:00 PM EST In-Person Event: Charleston Library Society, 164 King

St., Charleston, SC 29401 This will also be live Zoomed Easy Instructions to join the Zoom 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 "May 13 PSSC Meeting") 2. You will be taken to the Zoom website and a dialog box will open (give it a second or two!). 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. May 13 PSSC Meeting Alternate Easy instructions for joining the meeting live: 1. Go to our website: 2. Page down to "PSSC Forum | Reading by Nikky Finney." Click on "RSVP" there. If you'd like to join the meeting without any of the easy shortcuts above: Topic: PSSC Forum : Reading by Nikky Finney Time: May 13, 2022 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada) Join Zoom Meeting Meeting ID: 842 2908 6032 Passcode: 851851 One tap mobile +13126266799,,84229086032#,,,,*851851# US (Chicago) +19292056099,,84229086032#,,,,*851851# US (New York) Dial by your location +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago) +1 929 205 6099 US (New York) +1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC) +1 346 248 7799 US (Houston) +1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose) +1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma) Meeting ID: 842 2908 6032 Passcode: 851851 Find your local number:


The first Poetry Trails Walk will be in conjunction with the Cypress Gardens Poetry Walk on May 21st, 2022 in Moncks Corner at 10 am. Cypress Gardens does have an entrance fee.

The premise is the following: Bring a favorite poem or one of your own to share on a poetry trail walk while enjoying South Carolina scenery and companionship. Poems should be about two minutes or less (be mindful of your potential audience). All Poetry Trails are weather permitting and led by Tina Baumis. We will be walking for an hour or less depending on the size of our group in attendance. Dates, times, and locations will be announced through the Poetry Society of South Carolina (PSSC). You do not have to be a member of the PSSC to attend, however we hope you consider joining the PSSC. Looking forward to seeing you soon and sharing some poetry.


Regional Opportunities for Our Members:

The Petigru Review is open for submissions from SCWA members for the 2022 issue from 4/1/22 until 7/31/22. Members can submit at a discounted rate and the magazine will pay a $5 honorarium upon publication to each accepted author or artist. We are looking for cover art, book excerpts/chapters, nonfiction, fiction, flash, and poetry. Complete guidelines can be found on our website and Submittable. We will be open to non-member submissions beginning May 1. For those who are impatient or would like to submit again in the same category, we are also offering expedited submissions for an extra fee. Please feel free to reach out to the Managing Editor, Maria S. Picone, with any questions (

The Petigru Review is looking for volunteer staff for the summer 2022 reading period. This is a great opportunity to learn more about literary magazines and the submission process, improve your editorial lens, and get involved with the organization. We are especially looking for readers from marginalized groups. We estimate a commitment of no more than 2 hours per week during our reading period (May through August), but we are happy to be flexible about the time commitment. Please contact Maria S. Picone, Managing Editor to arrange an interview:


The May Poetry Salon will take place on May 23 from 7-8pm.

This event, curated by Evelyn Berry, is modeled after the salon society meetups of the early 20th century, during which Poetry Society members would gather to discuss art, life, and the future of poetry. Poets will read and discuss three contemporary poems (published in the last 5-10 years). The salon will explore craft, style, experimentation, voice, and form. Poets will be exposed to newer writers who are pushing the art of poetry forward in the 21st century and poets who are honoring centuries-long traditions of prosody.

To join the salon via zoom, click this link: May Salon


Talk More About Poetry: A Column by Brian Slusher

I hope you had a glorious National Poetry Month! I paid homage to it (and to a MUCH greater extent so did my wife Terri McCord and many other poets) by participating in Ed Madden’s project of writing poems inspired by picture postcards (check out #postpoems2022). I’ve always enjoyed prompt writing and generative workshops in the same way I enjoy improvisation in the theater–it’s both challenging and magical to discover in a moment or image you didn’t choose what you are capable of creating.

In that spirit I'm asking you, dear reader, to suggest a poem from the Poetry Society Archives that you appreciate and would like others to get to know. I’ve had my turn picking, so I’d like to invite another perhaps more discerning mind to steer me towards a poem I might have never given attention to. This is also a step towards inviting other voices to come in and actually write their own appreciations of other prize-winning PSSC work. Much as I love the sound (sight?) of my own voice, It would be great to hear from other members with a different perspective and a more clever mode of expression. So let me (at least for next month) be your poetry DJ. Send your requests to the email address below and I will do my best to talk more about the work you love. Also, If writing for this column is appealing to you, send Jim Lundy an email proposal. I hope to hear from some of you and I look forward to talking more about poetry!

Brian Slusher is a long-time member of the Poetry Society and one of the winningest current members, with over twenty PSSC prizes to his credit. Contact Brian Slusher with your thoughts and comments on this column at:


If you missed the outstanding April reading with Khalisa Rae and Abigail G. Fitzpatrick,you can watch it in its entirety on our Youtube channel by clicking here.


MEMBERS IN THE NEWS Tina Baumis, who serves on the PSSC board, had a haiku published on The Haiku Foundation. The haiku was in their Haiku Dialog section. The topic was an art piece titled “Sunflower Seeds.”

Ann Herlong-Bodman's poem "Be Careful What You Wish For" on South 85 Journal's blog. The poem was previously published in her book Loose in Faraway Places. Ann-Chadwell Humphries gave a presentation on April 7 at the Waccamaw Public Library to start National Poetry Month. The presentation was on "The Gift of Blindness." It was sponsored by the South Carolina Humanities Speakers Bureau. Kimberly Simms gave a workshop, "Cooking Up Poetry," on April 5 at the Irmo Branch Library. This was sponsored by the Lexington County Public Library System with support from SC Humanities Speakers Bureau program. Traci Neal's poem, "My Root" is featured in the poetry booklet Grounded for Maitland Public Library Annual Poetry Contest in Maitland, FL. Neal will also have another poem in the Cypress Gardens Poetry Walk for visitors to vote on May 20-27. Neal will be on the Born Unbreakable podcast to discuss how she rose from rejection and learned to accept her authentic gift of writing. Eugene Platt's poem "The Good Vet" appears in the digital edition of the new issue of Press Pause Press. A print edition is forthcoming. A poem for spring entitled “Poem Written While Listening to the Love Ballads of Joe Williams,” by Ellen E. Hyatt, appears in the spring 2022 edition of AZALEA MAGAZINE, which can be found around town. Back issues are accessible online. There, Hyatt’s poems find simple joy on that sweetly quiet last page. Pat Reviere Seel will appear Tuesday, May 10 ~ 6:30-8 p.m. at Taste Full Beans Coffee House, Hickory, NC. She will be the featured reader and an open mic will follow the reading. Bring a poem to read, come early for drinks/dinner and support poet/owner Scott Owens. PSSC member Elizabeth Robin's third book of poetry, To My Dreamcatcher, is available for preorders through Finishing Line Press. This is her first full-length book, reflecting work beginning in 2018 traveling 28 national parks. The title poem, "To My Dreamcatcher," is an elegy for her late husband, George. To order: Debra A Daniel's piece of flash fiction, "Mrs. Flanders Wears a Full Body Wetsuit" appears in Reflex Fiction. Members, please send poetry-related news to: To make this easier on us, please provide your news in a format that is exactly the way you want it to read in the Newsletter.


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'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 April Poetry Prompt Contest asked you to write a poem or piece of flash fiction of a foolish nature in honor of April Fool's Day. This have been taken to mean just about anything, such as a past foolish action, a foolish plan, or to simply use foolish words and language. We received only four entries, but they were all very good. Eugene Platt's poem "Rather Than Olives" investigated a Biblical foolishness from Genesis at a lost opportunity springing out of Noah's Ark. Ellen Jenks, with her poem "Just Say No" also found her inspiration in the Bible going back to Adam and Eve and the Original Sin. Tina Baumis intermingled food preparations in the kitchen with the collapse of a marriage in her poem "Foolish Hunger." And lastly, Charles Watts focused on a foolish--and permanent--mistake in his masterful poem "The Tattoo." The judge picked Charles Watts's poem as the April Prompt winner and you can read it below. Here is the May Prompt: Our May Forum is the end of the calendar year for the PSSC and, as most endings, it is the beginning of a new era. For this month, write a poem or piece of flash fiction on goodbyes, endings, and beginnings. Have fun with it. Send your submissions to on or before May 31.


The winner of the April Prompt Contest:

The Tatoo It was a few days Before the beginning Of the swimming season And she wanted to declare Her independence as a grown woman Her independence from the manacles Of her mama On April 1st She took herself down To Loki’s tattoo parlor In a dicey part of town And met the Lord of the Coil machine Instrument of both Art and doom Loki showed her bears Butterflies, beings From beyond But she wanted a Spirit animal more To her liking She chose a raccoon Symbolic of the ability To know who around you Is deceptive, who Your friends are. The Dakota Sioux Called him wee-ka kg-alega The sacred one with the painted face Loki set to work Between her shoulder blades Where she could hide It from her Mom Or boss or the Dentist she had a Crush on Yet flaunt it At the beach. Hours later he was done He held a mirror for her But the image was hazy Covered in blood and Vaseline and clear Saniderm She went home and called Her best friend Berta To come over and admire Her new art She lowered her Blouse and heard Berta gasp They drove back To Loki’s shop But it was gone Replaced By a pet store Forever after she would be The Girl with the Possum Tattoo -Charles Watts


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Editor: Jim Lundy

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