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Benefactors ($50)
Mary Jo Balistreri
Mary Beth Bretzlauf
Dan Fitzgerald
Joe Glaser
Lee Johnson
Donald Lyles
Jenene Ravesloot
Tom Roby
Arthur Voellinger

Patrons ($30)
Jocelyn Ajami
David LaRue Alexander
Candace Armstrong
Diane Lotko Baker
Mary Jo Balistreri
Camille Balla
Eva Boczon
William T. Carey
Thomas Chockley
Patrice Claeys
Jennifer Dotson
Dan Fitzgerald
Georgiann Foley
Michael Freveletti
Karen Fullett-Christensen
Leo Gehr
John J. Gordon
Susan Gundlach
Larry Hays
Joris Heise
M. E. Hope
Melissa Huff
Phyllis Janik
Steven Kappes
Sheila Kirscher
S. Michael Kozubek
Jim Lambert
Jill Langlois
William Lederer
Carol Marcus
Karian Markos
Georgina Milsted
Tom Moran
Wilda Morris
Leslie A. Peet
Marcia Pradzinski
Marjorie Rissman
Kathleen Robinson
Nancy Schaefer
Irfanulla Shariff
Ruth Siburt
Joe Solberg
Judith Tullis
Maggie Van Dyke
Arthur Voellinger
Linda Wallin

In Memoriam
Sally Hanson Calhoun
Nancy Jean Carrigan
David Christensen
Don Cornwell
Phillip Egelston
Jonathan Foster, OFM
Michael Galati
Patricia Gangas
Chris Holaves
Glenna Holloway
Usha Mahisekar
John Mahoney
Marguerite McClelland
Martha S. Moss
Hugh Muldoon
John Pawlik
Ina Perlmuter
John Quinn
James Reiss
Marge Samuel
Doyle Raymond Vines
Paul J. Wolf
Marvin R. Young (2017)

Illinois State Poetry Society
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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 May 2022 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.

Upcoming ISPS Meetings

A Message from the ISPS President, May/June, 2022

by Susan T. Moss, ISPS President

Susan T. Moss

It's already May, and birds are up at daybreak to chatter and sing their greetings to the world. With more light, we poets can also observe our surroundings and perhaps respond with our own verbal expressions, like ekphrastic poetry, where a combination of personal observations reflected in paintings, music, sculpture and any other art form can lead us to interact rhetorically.

This spring of reawakening from the worst of Covid, now hopefully in the past, Illinois State Poetry Society was fortunate to have received three invitations from artist associations to join them in sharing their creative endeavors of collages and paintings and our poetic responses. Addison, Downers Grove and Elk Grove were destinations for reading members' work and immersing ourselves in expressive writing efforts. The concept of ekphrastic poetry has taken an upward turn in popularity and provides an imaginative means of "talking" with or relating to another art form. There is no right or wrong interpretation nor limit to imagination.

Imagine a collage of two geishas and a pagoda, mounted and framed, and a poet choosing to write a corresponding conversation. All kinds of possibilities await such as researching the history of geishas and their dying art of entertaining and the pagodas of the past that didn't allow women to participate in the rituals. The poet can do as little or as much as desired to find a satisfying way to interact with the art piece and move into a place that brings new insights to writer, artist and those who view all in totality.

Another way to approach this kind of poetry is to simply converse with our personal artistic belongings such as a hand-carved statue, a photograph, recorded music or like John Keats did, write a poem titled "Ode on a Grecian Urn." There is something energizing about having these "conversations" that provide imaginative awakenings. We can look around us and see poetry everywhere with other genres of art and build written bridges to a new way of viewing creativity.

Happy writing,

Susan T. Moss

Archive of Presidents' Messages

ISPS Collage Poetry Reading - Downers Grove 4/29/22

Poems written by members of the ISPS will be read on Friday, April 29, 6:30-8:00 p.m., at the Downers Grove Public Library, Downers Grove, IL. The poems were written in response to artwork by members of the Midwest Collage Society. For more information, see All the poems submitted are posted on the wall at the library. At least one poem responding to each artist will be read aloud Friday as pictures of the art works are projected on the wall.

"Last Sunday" Poetry Reading, May 29, 2022

Two excellent poets will be featured at Brewed Awakening on Sunday, May 29 from 12:30-2:00 PM. DeWitt Clinton will come from Wisconsin to appear in person; Jocelyn Ajami will appear from Chicago via Zoom. There will also be an open mic. You may participate by going to Brewed Awakening (19 W Quincy Street, Westmont, Illinois; just off Cass Avenue, across the street from the train station), or by joining us on Zoom. There is a $12 cover charge, which entitles you to a beverage and snack. Or you may listen to the featured poets and participate in the open mic via Zoom. Zoom tickets can be purchased for $5 here.

DeWitt Clinton

DeWitt Clinton is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin—Whitewater, and lives in The Village of Shorewood, Wisconsin. His five collections of poetry include The Conquistador Dog Texts, The Coyot. Inca Texts, (New Rivers Press), At the End of the War (Kelsay Books, 2018), By A Lake Near A Moon: Fishing with the Chinese Masters (Is A Rose Press, 2020), and Hello There (Word Poetry, 2021). He is a student of Iyengar Yoga, and occasionally substitutes as a yoga instructor for seniors in The Village of Shorewood.

Jocelyn Ajami

Jocelyn Ajami was a painter and filmmaker for over twenty years and founder of Gypsy Heart Productions. As an artist with a global perspective, Jocelyn has been the recipient of numerous awards, including major grants from the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, The Leadership Foundation, International Women's Forum, and the Goethe Institute. Ajami turned to writing poetry in 2014 as a way of connecting more intimately with issues of social conscience and cultural awareness. She has been published in The Ekphrastic Review, The Journal of Modern Poetry, Modern Haiku, Frogpond, Encore, bottle rockets press, Northern Colorado Writers and various anthologies of prize winning poems. Born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, she lives and works in Chicago, Illinois.

Order Remember: Poems for the 20th Anniversary of 9/11
remember 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.
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Order The First Six Months - Poems During a Pandemic
The First Six Months 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.
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Order Distilled Lives, Volume 5, ISPS Poetry Anthology
Distilled Lives, volume 5 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.
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Order Distilled Lives, Volume 4, ISPS Poetry Anthology
Distilled Lives, volume 4 "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
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Order Distilled Lives, Volume 3, ISPS Poetry Anthology
Distilled Lives, volume 3 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.
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Order Distilled Lives, Volume 2, ISPS Poetry Anthology
Distilled Lives vol. 2 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.
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Order Distilled Lives, Volume 1, ISPS Poetry Anthology
book cover 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
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