Mary Jo Balistreri
David LaRue Alexander
Diane Lotko Baker
John J. Gordon
S. Michael Kozubek
Welcome to this website for the Illinois State Poetry Society, connecting ISPS members with each other and with the general public. Here you'll find information for and about this group of serious poets. Since June of 2000 we have been posting bimonthly editions of poetry written by ISPS members. All ISPS members are invited to submit a poem each two-month period. (How and when to submit) You are invited to read the ISPS member poems and haiga posted in December 2020 as well as previous postings. In March, 2020 we published a special edition of poems on the theme of "water".
To join ISPS through June, ,
please fill out our Membership Form and mail it with a check for $20.00. You don't have to be an Illinois resident to join ISPS, but you do need to be an ISPS member to have your poems posted in this website.
Leaves, mums and frantic squirrels burying acorns fill the yard as we enter the
autumnal season. This would have been the time for the Gala committee to be planning decorations, food and confirming several programs scheduled for our November 14 event at the Park Ridge Country Club. After inviting responses from ISPS members and a discussion among board participants, all had concerns and felt it was better to cancel this year's Gala. It may be possible to revisit this idea next year, however. Although many of the anthologies were distributed at the Gala in the past, they will be dispersed as quickly as possible following completion of publication.
After leading the business portion of July's ISPS board meeting, I asked what the
attendees were doing with their time and whether they were feeling isolated. One of
the repeated takeaways was that poetry writing and sharing are natural ways to use
time in positive and emotionally fulfilling endeavors. It's what poets have always done—
indulge in solitary and creative thought with the possible goal of participating in an
artistic collective whole.
Poetry can be mere entertainment; however, it can also offer powerful antidotes and
consoling possibilities. If we write about our fears and sorrows, there is a patient blank
page waiting to listen, record, help examine and even put out the proverbial fires that burn within. Words and emotions start to pose questions and if allowed to flow freely, can lead to new insights or at least a release of deep concerns. We can meet ourselves
at the edge of despair and come back after creative and freeing words unfold down the page.
At the risk of sounding as though Covid-19 is a positive thing, it does potentially offer
more free time to be in touch with the Muse. In Mary Oliver's A Poetry Handbook, she
states that "the poem requires of the writer not society or instruction, but a patch in the
writer's mind and on paper, can't abide interruption." It awakens "the dreamer from
We don't know when these troubling times will be over and what the future holds, but
we do know that there are ways to choose inspiration and its healing powers. Poetry
is a constant, an ongoing chronicle of our lives with all the vagaries.
William Wei-Yi Marr, Ph.D., Wins Lifetime Achievement Award
William Marr, a poet and past president of ISPS, has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Marquis Who's Who. Read about Bill's award.
"Last Sunday" Poetry Reading, January 31, 2021
Melissa Huff and Alan Harris, longtime members of the Illinois State Poetry Society, will be featured readers on Zoom on Sunday, January 31, for the Last Sunday of the Month Reading sponsored by ISPS and Brewed Awakening Coffee Shop in Westmont, Illinois. The poetry event, which will include open mic, will run from 12:30-2:00 p.m. Email Wilda Morris at email@example.com for the Zoom link. There is no charge but donations will be solicited.
Melissa Huff feeds her poetry from many sources—the power and mystery of the natural world, the way humans everywhere connect and the importance of spirit. She explores both metered poetry and free verse, and appreciates the value of reading of poetry aloud. In both 2019 and 2020, she won awards in the BlackBerry Peach Prizes for Poetry: Spoken and Heard, sponsored by the National Federation of State Poetry Societies (NFSPS). Her poems have garnered awards from the Illinois State Poetry Society, Poets & Patrons and the NFSPS, and were included in The Best of Halfway Down the Stairs, 2015-2019. Recent publishing credits include Snapdragon: A Journal of Art and Healing, The Pangolin Review, So It Goes, and Frogpond. A micro-chapbook of her poems can be downloaded from origamipoems.com.
Alan Harris, born into a farming family in Earlville, Illinois, retired from a 22-year career with Commonwealth Edison, Chicago, where he served as a computer programmer, systems analyst, and Web developer. Between 1982 and 1995 he print-published ten books of poems and aphorisms for friends and family. These books and all subsequent poetry collections are available on the Web at Noon Out of Nowhere - Collected Poems. His entire literary collection (poems, essays, aphorisms, short stories, and photographic essays) is found at An Everywhere Oasis, with his free books in PDF format downloadable at PDF Books. He is a past president of the Illinois State Poetry Society.
Order The First Six Months - Poems During a Pandemic
The First Six Months, a pandemic snapshot of March through August 2020, features work by 22 diverse southern Illinois poets as they learned to sequester, social-distance, mask, and deal with both uniquely personal and worldwide challenges. Though the anthology's themes of COVID-19 and racial justice protests reflect this period, the in-the-moment viewpoints are as individual as the poets themselves. Photos, art, and snippets of news reports accompany the poetry, adding to a creative record of the unprecedented months of one spring, one summer. To Sample and Order at Amazon.com
Order Distilled Lives, Volume 5, ISPS Poetry Anthology
Distilled Lives, Volume 5 presents recent poems from 70+ writers new and established, all members of the Illinois State Poetry Society. The observations, memories, triumphs, laments—yes, and comic moments, too—presented by the assembled pieces reflect the diversity of the members and the breadth of interests they represent. To Sample and Order at Amazon.com
Order Distilled Lives, Volume 4, ISPS Poetry Anthology
"What I love most about this wonderful 4th edition of Distilled Lives is its clarion call to pay thoughtful attention to the world around us and within us. For indeed, as these remarkable poets make clear in these poems, all of life is worthy of such sustained attention and creative response. In these pages, readers will be treated to unfamiliar experiences made viscerally accessible. So too, readers will be moved by fresh perspectives on familiar themes. Spanning a broad range of subject matter, style, and treatment, there are poems in this collection to appeal to every reader." —Arlyn Miller, Senior Editor of Poetic License Press To Sample and Order at Amazon.com
Order Distilled Lives, Volume 3, ISPS Poetry Anthology
Distilled Lives, Volume 3, showcases the talented voices of sixty-seven Illinois State Poetry Society member poets who deal in a variety of styles about personal catastrophes and triumphs, grounded by the seasons and values of America’s heartland. Quiet pleasures along with quiet griefs are given the same dose of wit and wisdom honed by the work of those with rolled-up sleeves in overalls as well as those with daily commuter passes in briefcases. This is a collection of powerful human stories lived with uniquely Midwestern ethics. To Sample and Order at Amazon.com
Order Distilled Lives, Volume 2, ISPS Poetry Anthology
Distilled Lives, Volume 2, is a rich and diverse collection of poetry from members of the Illinois State Poetry Society. Represented in the anthology are new word-crafters alongside poets in their nineties who have been writing throughout their lives. There are first-timers as well as Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award nominee James Reiss and the prolific Joan Colby and Jacob Erin-Cilberto, each with more than a dozen volumes to their credit. You will find formal forms, poems with stylized messages, rhymed lines, and prose-poem paragraphs.The lives distilled here offer a panoply of poetic style and individual creativity, a challenging and comforting gift of words offered by eighty-one representatives of ISPS. To Sample and Order at Amazon.com
Order Distilled Lives, Volume 1, ISPS Poetry Anthology
Seventy-five members of Illinois State Poetry Society have, as their 20th anniversary anthology's title promises, distilled life with its vicissitudes and revelations. Poems weave universal themes in rhyme and free verse while presenting fresh, provocative and sometimes
metaphysical insights. Humor, pathos, reverie and existentialism, among other diverse tones, combine in this entertaining and insightful collection. Sneak Peek To Order
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