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 October 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.
Mary Jo Balistreri and Michael Escoubas will be featured at the Illinois State Poetry Society / Brewed Awakening reading on Zoom, Sunday, November 29 from 12:30-2:00 p.m. There will also be open mic.
Mary Jo Balistreri has two books of poetry published by Bellowing Ark Press: Joy in the Morning and gathering the harvest. Her most recent book of poetry, Still, was published by Future Cycle Press. Tiger's Eye Press published a chapbook, Best Brothers and a mini chapbook of haiku, "Along the Way." She has 11 Pushcart nominations and four Best of the Net. She has published poetry, essays, haiku, and haibun in many journals both here and abroad.
She enjoys reading with other poets and finds these events a wonderful way of renewing friendships, and also of meeting new poets. It is here we can all become a force for those who do not have words. She is also one of the original founders of Grace River Poets, a poetry outreach poetry for women's shelters, schools, and churches. Please visit her at maryjobalistreripoet.com.
Michael Escoubas began writing poetry for publication after retiring from a 48-year career in the printing industry. Encouraged by his mother at a young age to read widely and to fall in love with words, he grew to love their shapes and sounds. Now 73, Michael's poetry has appeared across a range of venues. He has written four books of poetry: Light Comes Softly, Monet in Poetry and Paint, Steve Henderson in Poetry and Paint and Little Book of Devotions: Poems that Connect Nature, God and Man. All of Michael's titles are available either on Amazon or from the author's personal inventory.
Michael is a member of the Illinois State Poetry Society, the Poetry Society of Colorado and the National Federation of State Poetry Societies. He is Editor and Senior Book Reviewer for Quill and Parchment, a 19-year-old literary and cultural arts online poetry journal.
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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