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
G. Jordan Maclay
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 (monthly since 2021) editions of poetry written by ISPS members. ISPS members are invited to submit a poem each monthly submission period (according to last initial). (How and when to submit) You are invited to read the ISPS member poems and haiga posted in May 2023 as well as previous postings. In March, 2020 (beginning of the pandemic) 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 ($30.00 for "Patron" listing, $50.00 for "Benefactor" listing). 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.
As I write this message, the view out my window offers a potential poem about blooming pear trees, bluebells, trout lilies, yellow and white daffodils, tulips flashing orange among flowering pink azaleas, petite red buds and other harbingers of a Midwest spring. Yes, poetry calls as is so often the case when springtime's beauty reminds me of beginnings, the hope that all will be okay as days speed by filled with challenges and changes.
This June marks the end of a two-year cycle of ISPS board members' services. Soon there will be a vote for new or renewing officers, historian and chapter facilitators. It is also the culmination of my fourteen-year tenure as ISPS president. I joined our society in 2006 and upon a suggestion, I started the Northern chapter that met at the Northbrook library. As time passes, it has been a wonderful journey filled with so many opportunities to share ideas, efforts and friendships with a growing society of seven chapters and members in and out-of-state.
Over the years, through the dedication and hard work of many ISPS members, we have published six volumes of our biennial anthology, Distilled Lives, and celebrated the achievement with book launches at "Galas." Both a student poetry contest and related anthology of winning poems plus Book of the Year contest are recent events. Also, there have been Zoom readings and programs, as well as monthly Brewed Awakening featured readers, all guided by various board and non-board members. Each new and repeated poetry-related opportunity is a tribute to those who have helped build ISPS. More creative endeavors will occur in the future such as special programs about famous poets, opportunities to work with artists to create ekphrastic poetry, and displays of members' poetry in public libraries.
Illinois State Poetry Society is greater than its parts and is enriched by a growing membership of dedicated poets. Sharing our talents and efforts contribute to making a better world, one filled with ideas and the art of capturing life around us. I am proud to be a member of such an organization and honored to have had the opportunity to collaborate and promote its raison d'etre. As Yevgeny Yevtushenko stated, "Poetry is like a bird, it ignores all frontiers." Until we meet again—
ISPS and Brewed Awakening have arranged a special poetry reading (and open mic) for Sunday, June 25, 12:30-2:00 PM Central Time. Two featured poets (who will be announced here later) will read their poems. You may participate by going to Brewed Awakening (19 W Quincy Street, Westmont, Illinois; just off Cass Avenue and across the street from the METRA station). 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. The link for Zoom tickets, which can be purchased for $5, will be posted here before the date of the meeting.
Order Fresh Ink, 2023 Anthology of Prize Poems by Illinois Students
Fresh Ink 2023 is the inaugural anthology of winning poems in the Illinois State Poetry Society's student contest. From 226 submissions by students in high school and junior high school categories, 31 poems were selected for the anthology. They represent 14 schools, from Chicago in the north to Wolf Lake, 400 miles south. (Book cover by Kathy Cotton) To Sample and Order at Amazon.com
Order Distilled Lives, Volume 6, ISPS Poetry Anthology
Distilled Lives, Volume 6 offers a rich and diversified chorus of voices captured in verse. The featured poets explore a variety of terrains and tableaux, from the Ganges River in India to quaint cafes in Europe, from boisterous bistros in Chicago to the fertile farmlands of Illinois. Its language is as expansive as space and as intimate as a heartbeat. The compendium of work ranges from sonnets to haiku to free verse—a combination of forms distilling the creative essence of modern poetry. To Sample and Order at Amazon.com
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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