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Benefactors ($50)
Lilie Allen
Mary Beth Bretzlauf
Dan Fitzgerald
Jospeh Glaser
John J. Gordon
Marcia Gutierrez
James Lowell Hall
Janea D. Harris
M. E. Hope
Laura Krueger
Christopher Kuhl
William L. Lederer
Karian Markos
Tom Moran
Jenene Ravesloot
Joseph J. Solberg
Arthur Voellinger

Patrons ($30)
Jocelyn Ajami
Candace Armstrong
Marie Asner
Diane Lotko Baker
Mary Jo Balistreri
Camille A. Balla
Bakul Banerjee
William Carey
Thomas Chockley
Carole Croll
Maureen Daley
Jennifer Dotson
Lynn Fitzgerald
Georgiann Foley
Michael Freveletti
Karen Fullett-Christensen
Leo Gehr
Lee Gurga
Larry Hays
Edward J. Herdrich
Melissa Huff
Sheila Kirscher
S. Michael Kozubek
Jill Langlois
Lennart Lundh
G. Jordan Maclay
Carol Marcus
Georgina Milsted
James O'Brien
Marcia Pradzinski
Donita Ries
Marjorie Rissman
Nancy Schaefer
Irfanulla Shariff
Ruth Siburt
Teresa Smith
Judith SooHoo
Tabitha Tripp
Maggie VanDyke
Paul B. Vanni
Jim Wilkerson
Court Williams

In Memoriam
Sally Hanson Calhoun
Nancy Jean Carrigan
David Christensen
Don Cornwell
Carol Dooley
Idella Pearl Edwards
Phillip Egelston
Emily Fleischman
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
Kathleen Robinson
Tom Roby
Marge Samuel
Doyle Raymond Vines
Paul J. Wolf
Marvin R. Young (2017)

Illinois State Poetry Society
New ISPS Poems
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Random ISPS Haiga
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Search only ISPS site
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 February, 2024 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.

Upcoming ISPS Meetings

A Message from the ISPS President, January/February, 2024

by Mary Beth Bretzlauf, ISPS President

Mary Beth Bretzlauf

My Dear Family of Poets!

My wish for all of you in 2024 is that you and your family are in good health, and you have a fruitful and creative year! With the whirlwind of holiday activities behind us, and we start packing away the ornaments and decorations, it can be a great opportunity to explore what memories we created and save them in poem or prose.

In my last letter, I spoke about NaNoWriMo and how it's a time for writers to get 50,000 words written in in 30 days, thereby having a rough draft of a novel. I'd like for all of us to try this instead: NaPoWriMo is a poetry writing project held each April. The goal is to write a poem a day during that month. This fits well with idea that although most of us write in solitude, this is something we can all do. What better way to get working on a work of body for a manuscript than write a poem every day.

Whether this is your fifth or your second manuscript, or if you don't know where to begin, we will be having a Zoom series of fellow members and eventually publishers to share with us what works well for them.

One of the things that will help you get your poems ready is to participate in our Chapter meetings. This is where you can submit a poem for critique — for help smoothing over rough spots, or would this poem be better suited as a form poem instead of free verse and vice versa. All ISPS members can attend any meeting. In case you haven't yet, find a chapter in your area and contact that facilitator. If you are out-of-state, a Chapter that meets on Zoom might work best for you.

I need to recognize our website master Alan Harris. Alan is stepping back from maintaining our website. He has done so much to make sure poems from our members are posted on the website every quarter among so many other features. It's a job that sometimes goes unnoticed and I hope you can join me in thanking Alan for his hard work and dedication and wishing him a bright future!

With changes and growth come opportunities. With some tech companies providing websites for organizations and small businesses, we are looking at creating a new website. We sent out a survey a few weeks ago to hear what you have to say. If you didn't see it but have ideas about what features on the current website you'd like to see carried over, please reach out to me as well. If you have some website knowledge and would like to help, also reach out to me.

Our annual student contest is live! The flyer is in this newsletter; deadline to enter is February 29. And finally, with the days in a slow and aching return to more daylight, we need more poetry — so on Thursday, February 15th at 7 p.m., we will have a Zoom reading of all the prize-winning poems. Watch your inbox from William Shakespeare for reminders to RSVP.

Keep on Writing!,
Mary Beth Bretzlauf

Archive of Presidents' Messages

"Last Sunday" Poetry Reading, February 25, 2024

The monthly poetry reading sponsored by the Illinois State Poetry Society and Brewed Awakening on Sunday, February 25, 12:30-2:00 PM Central Time will include a celebration of National Haiku Month. Two of the top American haiku poets, Mary Jo Balistreri and Nicky Gutierrez, will be featured on Zoom. Some Illinois haiku poets are expected to appear in person. Open mic will not be limited to haiku or other Japanese forms. You may participate via Zoom or by going to Brewed Awakening (19 W Quincy Street, Westmont, Illinois; just off Cass Avenue, across the street from the METRA station). There is a $15 cover charge, which entitles you to a beverage and snack. The link for Zoom tickets, which can be purchased for $8, is here. You may participate in the open mic either way.

Mary Jo Balistreri

Mary Jo Balistreri began her creative life as a pianist and harpsichord player. She turned to poetry gradually in 2005 and free verse became a passion as well. Bellowing Ark Press published two books of her poems, Future Cycle Press published another, and Tiger's Eye Press published her chapbook. Music as a performance art began to take a back seat with the overwhelming grief that followed the death of her 7-year-old grandson. In 2009, Mary Jo lost her hearing and, with that, loss of her music career. She believes that words saved her emotional life. In late 2014, Mary Jo registered for a mentoring program through the Haiku Society of America. She now writes almost exclusively in Japanese forms, mostly haiku and haibun. She has been published in many journals and anthologies here and abroad. In 2019, she was selected for publication in A New Resonance 12 as one of twelve up-and-coming haiku poets. She has been interviewed and selected as a special featured poet in several haiku journals. You can learn more at

Nicky Gutierrez

Nicky Gutierrez is an Ohio theopoet who writes mainly in the haiku genre. He is the current facilitator of the Ohaio-ku Study Group. He has been published in several major haiku journals such as Frogpond, Modern Haiku, and Kingfisher. He is a mentor of haiku poets through the Haiku Society of America. He is a pilgrim poet too and has made pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela, the Holy Land, Patmos, and Iona to name a few. From these pilgrimages, he has presented at academic conferences his theological research and haiku poetry. He has an MA in Theopoetics and Writing from Bethany Theological Seminary and is currently at Duke Divinity School working on his Master of Theological Studies.

Order Fresh Ink, 2023 Anthology of Prize Poems by Illinois Students
Fresh Ink - 2023 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)
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Order Distilled Lives, Volume 6, ISPS Poetry Anthology
Distilled Lives, volume 6 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.
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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.
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