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What Goes Around, Goes Around. And Around

Updated: Oct 2, 2021

A Letter from the President

It never had to be like this. Next week, I will be celebrating my second birthday during COVID times: limited attendees, no candles on the cake, mostly outdoors, etc. You’ve either had your second COVID birthday by now or you will soon. Again, it never had to be like this. We shut down the entire country at great expense in 2020, and it worked for "flattening the curve." Then people decided they were through with the quarantine before COVID was. We jumped the gun and cases rose. When mask use became mandatory, we saw cases diminish, so much so that the regular flu season was virtually non-existent. Then vaccines appeared and many of us spent frantic days on the computer trying to find an appointment. My girlfriend and I were so desperate to get vaccinated that we took a “vacci-cation,” with an overnight trip to Savannah for our second dose. For a while we were filled with confidence from our immunity and started going out to eat, shopping without masks, and hanging out with other vaccinated people. Now we’re very much looking forward to getting our boosters as soon as we’re allowed to get them later this month. What I never could have imagined last spring was that a sizeable contingent of the population would steadfastly refuse to get vaccinated. Now, with the extra time and human hosts to aid in the virus's evolution, the highly contagious Delta Variant has taken over the pandemic and is dragging a percentage of vaccinated people into the statistics. Most of us know someone who was vaccinated who got sick with the Delta Variant nevertheless. Studies have shown, however, that vaccinated people who get COVID have milder cases and are less likely to need hospitalization. As I write this, 1,000 people are dying from COVID every day in the United States; almost all of them are unvaccinated. We shut down the entire country in 2020 for fewer cases than this. Our 2020-2021 Poetry Society season was, I had hoped, an anomaly in our 100-year history. It was the only time in a century of operation where we did not meet in person even once. When vaccines appeared at the tail end of last season, I was confident that we would be back at the Library Society for the upcoming calendar year. Well, that season has officially arrived and, as of now, it is still not safe to meet in person, at least in an unfettered way. Our September and October meetings will be Zoomed. After that, we’re going to evaluate the situation as the disease progresses. Nobody is more disappointed about this than I am. On the bright side, we have already proven to ourselves that we can have a successful season even if it is delivered through the internet. Zoom is not the same experience as meeting in person, however it is still vastly superior to having no meetings at all. Last season can be counted as a success. We had fun and dozens of people who would ordinarily not be able to attend our meetings were able to be in the "audience" for some great poetry readings. I am still optimistic that we will return to in-person meetings this season. And rest assured, we will continue to Zoom our live meetings once they take place for everybody who cannot be there. Our September meetings and workshops—one of which is in person—are listed below. We hope to see you at some or all of them, either as pixels on a screen, or in the flesh. 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.


It is Time to Renew Your Membership

September begins the 2021-2022 season. Now is the time to renew your membership, or join if you're not already a member. It's fast and easy with PayPal by clicking here: Join/Renew Membership.


The PSSC September Meeting

Our September meeting will take place virtually. Destiny O. Birdsong will be the featured poet. Reading as opener will be Malachi Jones. This will be live-Zoomed at 7:00 and then available for viewing from our Youtube channel later on. Destiny is also conducting a workshop on the following day, the directions for participating are included further down the Newsletter.

September 10, 7:00 PM About the Event:

Destiny O. Birdsong is a Louisiana-born poet, essayist, and fiction writer who lives and writes in Nashville, Tennessee. Her work has either appeared or is forthcoming in The Paris Review, Catapult, The BreakBeat Poets Presents: Black Girl Magic, and elsewhere. Her critical work recently appeared in African American Review and The Cambridge Companion to Transnational American Literature. Destiny has won the Academy of American Poets Prize, Naugatuck River Review’s 2016 Poetry Contest, Meridian’s 2017 “Borders” Contest in Poetry, and the Richard G. Peterson Poetry Prize from Crab Orchard Review (2019). She has received support from Cave Canem, Callaloo, Jack Jones Literary Arts, Pink Door, MacDowell, The Ragdale Foundation, and Tin House, where she was a 2018 Summer Workshop Scholar. Her debut poetry collection, Negotiations, was published by Tin House Books in October 2020, and was longlisted for the 2021 PEN/Voelcker Award for [a] Poetry Collection. Her debut novel is forthcoming from Grand Central in February 2022. Malachi Jones is a Junior at Columbia University majoring in Creative Writing and concentrating in African American Studies. His work has been honored with several scholastic awards culminating to a prestigious gold medal writing portfolio in 2018. In 2016, he was a finalist for the National Student Poets Program, and in 2017 his work was published in Rattle’s Young Poets Anthology and USC’s Student Anthology, Writing South Carolina. He currently serves on the editorial board of The Columbia Review, the nation's oldest college literary magazine.

Easy Instructions to join the 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 " September 10 PSSC Meeting") 2. You will be taken to the Zoom website and a dialog box will open. 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. September 10 PSSC Meeting Alternate Easy instructions for joining the meeting live: 1. Go to our website: 2. You will be taken to the event page. Click on "RSVP" there. 3. Supply a name and email address when prompted. 4. You will be sent a link for the meeting by email. Use that link to join the meeting on the night of the reading. If you'd like to join the meeting without any of the easy shortcuts above: Join Zoom Meeting Meeting ID: 897 4727 8645 Passcode: 932555 One tap mobile +19292056099,,89747278645#,,,,*932555# US (New York) +13126266799,,89747278645#,,,,*932555# US (Chicago) Dial by your location +1 929 205 6099 US (New York) +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago) +1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC) +1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose) +1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma) +1 346 248 7799 US (Houston) Meeting ID: 897 4727 8645 Passcode: 932555 Find your local number:

PSSC Zoom Workshop with Destiny O. Birdsong:

"The Ambidextrous Scribe: A Craft Seminar for Multi-Genre Writers"

What happens when you're a writer who wants to say a thing in multiple ways, or one who finds that certain subjects--at least for you--work best in certain genres? In this seminar, we'll discuss what it means to write broadly across a range of topics and forms, and gather some clues about knowing where your sweet spot(s) are. September 11, 10:00 AM 10:00-12:00 noon You must register. Attendance will be limited to 25 participants. Register here: PoetrySocietySCWorkshop

The first of our Regional Workshops for the 2021-2022 calendar year will be an in-person event. This special free workshop held at Pat Conroy Literary Center introduces the PSSC specifically to Lowcountry's poets and poetry lovers. We will be able to plan events regularly once we have a good membership base in the area.

When: Saturday, September 11, 2021, 9:30 - noon

Where: Pat Conroy Literary Center (601 Bladen St, Beaufort, SC 29902)

Seats: Limited to 20

Cost: Free

Registration and

Workshop Topic: "Poetry and the Syntax of Cinema" Poetry and cinema have cross-pollinated for over 100 years. Their relationship stems from their use of the same building blocks—sight and sound, human voices affecting language, and the compression of space/time. This seminar will use the "language" of film—its rules, techniques, and components—to examine poems by Pound, Bishop, Kunitz, Merwin, William Carlos Williams and more. Its aim is to both increase technical understanding and provide new approaches to verse composition and revision.

Instructor: Curtis Derrick For the last decade and a half, he taught English and film at Midlands Technical College. In the 1990s, as poetry tutor for Johns Hopkins' Center for Talented Youth, he designed the Center's first online poetry tutorial. He has won fellowships from the SC Arts Commission and the SC Academy of Authors. His poems have appeared in many journals, such as Poet Lore, Beloit Poetry Journal, Natural Bridge, and Tupelo Quarterly.Arthur McMaster will give a reading and book signing to promote his new book, The Whole Picture Show. This will take place from 10 am to noon at M. Judson Booksellers in Greenville, on Saturday, Sep 4. The address is 130 S. Main Street, Greenville, 29601.


The Poetry Society of South Carolina's website,, needs your help. We are seeking a volunteer to help maintain and update our events, contest information, and coordinate with society leadership to help promote and extend PSSC's digital reach. Experience isn't necessary, but familiarity with Microsoft Office products will help. Please reach out to Ethan Fugate at if you have any questions or are interested in learning more.


The History of the PSSC Now Available

Years in the making, the full history of the country's oldest state poetry society is now available in softcover. To purchase a copy, click here: PSSC Softcover Edition. If you reserved a hardcover last month, they will be available soon, and you will receive an email with payment information. There are a few extra hardcovers coming, so if you would like to get a signed copy, respond to this email.



Sandra Marshburn has three poems appearing online in The Ravensperch Literary Magazine. The latest collection of Ed Madden’s Poetry on the Comet series is now available. The PSSC is well represented by poets such as Tina Baumis, Claire Bateman, Al Black, Debra Daniel, Ann-Chadwell Humphries, Jacquelyn Markham, Elizabeth Robin, Randy Spencer, Danielle Verwers, Susan Craig, and many others. This year's theme was "When It’s Over." If interested in a copy, contact Dr. Madden at

Randall Ivey has had two poems, "Everything I Have" and "Epilogue," published in the most recent edition of the MOLLYHOUSE journal. Claire Batement has reviewed work by Eugene Platt in The Weekly Hubris.

Eugene Platt's poem "A Widower's Fifth September" is in the latest issue of The Purpled Nail. His poem "How I Escaped the Holocaust" was accepted by Constellations for its annual print issue. The poem was also accepted to be re-printed in Snapdragon online in September.

Gervais Hagerty's debut novel IN POLITE COMPANY is now available. 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. August's winner gets a signed copy of Arthur McMaster's book The Whole Picture Show. The August Poetry Prompt Contest was to write a poem or piece of flash fiction on the topic of Time. This prompt proved very popular, with nine entries. I was glad to receive poems from Ellen Jenks, who sent "TICK TOCK;" Eugene Platt, who entered "September Poem;" Charles Lord submitted "The Rock," which was inspired by his travels; Gayle Edwards sent a sweaty haiku entitled "July 31, 2021;" Linda Sarkany entered "There Comes a Time;" Patricia Manley sent "Time Away From Love," a lovely poem about longing; Jeanne Kay Juhos entered "The Passage of Time;" and Terri McCord sent "With Permission." Claire Baitman entered the lone piece of flash fiction for this round, entitled "All in a Day's Work." It takes place in the future and has a very intriguing plot. The winner is Terri McCord, who will receive a signed copy of The Whole Picture Show by Arthur McMaster, who was also the judge for this contest. Her poem appears below. Here is the September Prompt: September will be forever linked in my memory with the start of the school year; we always went back to school on the day after Labor Day. I normally had equal measures of anticipation and dread for this annual event. Your mission for September is to write a poem or piece of flash fiction on the subject of School. It can be about a memory (either real or imagined), the current school year, or perhaps schools of the future. All schools qualify: grade school, high school, Hebrew school, college, clown school, adult continuing education, preschool, medical school, acting school, etc. Take it where it leads you. The PSSC keeps a calendar year exactly like a school year and we've been educating people for over 100 years, so this prompt also works well with the start of our new season. The winner will therefore get a copy of the 1922 Poetry Society Yearbook. Send your submissions to on or before September 30. The winner of the August Prompt Contest:

With Permission

Bless the heart of the human who planted that beautiful camellia tree 75 years ago. Quoted after asking permission of person who posted on FB. Rare in the wild but cultivated for flair and show serrated leaves conspicuous flowers that seem to double as old-fashioned swim caps from the 60’s or 70’s abundantly petaled like my grandmother’s and great aunt’s to keep their hair dry, add a sense of elegance or lady-likeness. Both side-stroked the hotel pool on vacation in the summer, synchronized kicks, adjusted their bikinis and chatted while I swam underwater, dove for thrown pennies for fun. During a spring visit, sight-seeing, my grandmother fell in love with Mountain Laurel blossoms, the bold pink and broad leaves, in the state park, thought nothing of pulling a few of the bushes up, placing them in the car trunk to carry back home. -Terri McCord

Copyright © 2021 The Poetry Society of South Carolina, All rights reserved.

Photo credit: CDC

Editor: Jim Lundy

Our mailing address is:

The Poetry Society of South Carolina

P.O. Box 1090

Charleston, SC 29402

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