Mary Jo Balistreri
David LaRue Alexander
Diane Lotko Baker
John J. Gordon
Emma A. Kowalenko
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 June 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.
When I have spoken with other poets these past few months, some say that they are writing lots of poems, many about the pandemic. Others, however, state that they
just can't seem to write much lately. For many reasons, it's hard to find something to say that isn't about virus ground zero. We tend to seek far from our home base
of inspiration. There is often a belief that our poetry has to be rich with metaphor,
worldly experiences or other subjects that we have not experienced or are not in the
right frame of creative insight to explore.
Much can be said of little daily events, observations, tastes, smells, textures and
sights that are often overlooked when we must focus on staying sequestered or
hidden behind a mask. There is nothing too mundane when examined under the microscope of poetic curiosity. The juicy orange at breakfast, its sweet wakeup call
blended with first bite of buttery toast, can be worth exploring, perhaps as a memory
of childhood or breakfast with a long-ago friend. We can imagine and free associate
endlessly if we give ourselves a chance to record our own observations without self-
It can be lonely when we can't meet in person to critique poetry or perhaps discuss an idea for a collection about some pertinent or unusual topic. We seek ways to connect, and poetry is surely one way to be reminded of those who are no longer with us or
to revive memories of our own lives. In an extra section of the ISPS website, our webmaster, Alan Harris, has recently provided some glimpses into members' poems
that appeared in years past and in so doing, remind us that poetry endures and binds
Let's look around and join in celebrating the vernal season that we also share. No matter what is plying us with dark statistics and scary news, our usual pipe dreams and the fragrance of mock orange blossoms, heady lilacs and pungent viburnum, and soon the roses and peonies call us to the "now" of our lives. The scent and shocking pinks of crabapple trees or softer shade of azaleas among other budding beauties can draw us into a place where as Robert Frost wrote in "A Prayer in Spring": "Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;/And give us not to think so far away/As the uncertain harvest; keep us here/All simply in the springing of the year."
We can count on what doesn't change— the creative forces of spring and the moments
that offer us a special invitation to look to such beauty.
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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