Mary Jo Balistreri
Mary Beth Bretzlauf
David LaRue Alexander
Diane Lotko Baker
Mary Jo Balistreri
William T. Carey
John J. Gordon
M. E. Hope
S. Michael Kozubek
Leslie A. Peet
Maggie Van Dyke
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 August 2021 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.
Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda, wanted his poems to be of this world—the essence
of all that surrounds us, passions, tastes, observations, among many other inputs.
He said that we should "look closely at the world of objects at rest. The used surfaces
of things, ...the air, ...the reality of the world that should not be underprized."
As fall approaches, we can see the changes in leaves, feel the hints of cooler temperatures and shorter days in a new way. With each season, we have an
opportunity to reinvent ourselves and the poems we create through the lens
of starting over again. Just when we get used to short sleeves and "barefoot days,"
we are challenged to change not only our wardrobe but also to see again in fresh
possibilities what has come our way and often what we can't control. So much is seemingly unimportant to notice, embrace or write about in everyday life; however,
it's from the kernels of corn that the cob is formed just like our poetry.
Thank you to those members who sent in poetic responses to the Artists' Association
of Elk Grove Village exhibit, Colors in Nature. The exhibition will be next year with
a forthcoming date announcement. Another collaboration is planned with Addison
Center for the Arts in February. This will also be an ekphrastic poetry and art
opportunity. More details will be offered.
Did you recently publish a book? You can list it on our ISPS website along with a
review. You might also want to check your biographical details and update them if
There are still ongoing opportunities to lead a poetry workshop based on some
poetic aspect you are expert in and willing to share. A Zoom session will be provided.
Please let me know. It's not too early to plan workshops and challenges for the winter
In closing, keep in mind two lines from "There's No Forgetting" by Neruda.
"Ask me where have I been/and I'll tell you: Things keep on happening."
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, September 26, 2021
Gary Ketchum and Jacob Erin-Cilberto will be featured on Sunday, September 26, at Brewed Awakening in Westmont, IL. Jacob will appear via Zoom from southern Illinois; Gary will read in-person at Brewed Awakening. The event will run from 12:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., and will include an open mic for which you can sign up in the Zoom chat or at Brewed Awakening. Zoom tickets may be purchased for $5 here. Brewed Awakening is open as per Covid guidelines, so you may participate by going there (19 W Quincy Street, Westmont, Illinois; just off Cass Avenue, across the street from the train station). There is a $12 cover charge, which entitles you to a beverage and snack. The event is sponsored by the Illinois State Poetry Society and Brewed Awakening.
While in college, Gary Ketchum was a member of the National Forensic Championship team that competed in individual speaking contests. He particularly enjoyed "oral interpretation of poetry." After graduating, he set poetry aside for forty years, as he worked as a manager with a major airline. Ideas he had for poems then found their way onto the page decades later. Gary experiments with various forms and meters. He believes poetry was historically an oral tradition and is best appreciated when read or recited aloud. A former Illinois resident, Gary moved to New Port Richey, Florida in 2017. He joined the Florida State Poets Association. He was recently elected as President of his local chapter, The New River Poets. In 2020, Gary took first place for the Black/Berry Peach Poetry Prize: Written and Spoken Word Poetry, presented by the National Federation of State Poetry Societies.
jacob erin-cilberto originally came from Bronx, NY and lives in Southern Illinois. He has written and published poetry since 1970. erin-cilberto's work has appeared in hundreds of magazines and journals and he has published 16 books of poetry. His most recent, titled Pour me another Poem, Please was published by Water Forest Press, Stormville, NY. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize three times but finds the periods of creation as well as teaching poetry workshops for The Heartland Writers Guild, The Southern Illinois Writers Guild and the Union County Writers Guild the most satisfying.
Order Remember: Poems for the 20th Anniversary of 9/11
Remember: Poems for the 20th Anniversary of 9/11 offers a two-decade look back at the terrorist attack. Set in 30 poems interspersed with photos and news notes, the collection closes with a chapter of peace poems. In diverse styles and forms, 18 members of the Illinois State Poetry Society Southern Chapter bring to these pages personal reflections on the horrific event, the nation's aftermath of loss and grief, and, still, our longing for peace. To Sample and Order at Amazon.com
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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