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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
Beth Staas
Larry Turner
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 May, 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, May/June, 2024

by Mary Beth Bretzlauf, ISPS President

Mary Beth Bretzlauf

Dear Poetry Family,

I hope all of you had a productive Poetry Month! We capped it off with an all-member open mic on Zoom on the 30th. If you were able to join us, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! If you weren't, know that we missed you! However, I am thinking of doing this more often, so send me your feedback.

Connecting with other people who have poetry in their DNA is the best way I know of to feel welcomed and validated. It happened to me a couple weeks ago when I had the opportunity to meet poets in the Decatur area. It was a wonderful blend of people and poems. Thank you, Jim Wilkerson, for the invitation!

Looking forward, we will have our usual Chapter meetings, but also, we'll be celebrating our mothers, fathers, and graduates. Poetic pearls of wisdom or gratitude for these people in our lives can say what sometimes our lips can't bring forward.

On our horizon is a new website! Our website master, Alan Harris, is retiring from this position. The website committee is asking each of us the following:

  • A current bio (no more than 75 words) (a word doc is just fine)
  • A headshot
  • Photos of your book covers
  • Link to corresponding book for purchase.

Please send these to Jim Wilkerson at by May 22nd.

In one month, I'll be headed to Roswell, Georgia for the National Poetry Convention. I can't wait to share with you what I got out of it.

Keep writing,
Mary Beth

Archive of Presidents' Messages

"Last Sunday" Poetry Reading, June 30, 2024

Poets Mike Orlock and Carole Novak will be featured on Sunday, June 30, 12:30-2:00 pm at a hybrid event sponsored by the Illinois State Poetry Society and Brewed Awakening. Come to Brewed Awakening (19 W Quincy Street, Westmont, Illinois; just off Cass Avenue, across the street from the METRA station) or participate via Zoom. There is a $15 cover charge at Brewed Awakening, which entitles you to a beverage and snack. Zoom tickets are free this month because our Zoom master was on vacation last month and we could not make the link work. Get your ticket here. You may participate in the open mic either way.

Mike Orlock

Mike Orlock is a retired Illinois high school teacher and coach. He and his wife Liz purchased a second home in Sturgeon Bay in 2008, where they spend much of their time interspersed with visits to Lisle to visit family and friends. He enjoys travel, reading, writing, films, and spending time with his two children and five grandchildren. From 1989 to 2001, he wrote film reviews for the Reporter-Progress newspapers in suburban Chicago and was a contributing member of the Chicago Film Critics Association. His short fiction has appeared in TriQuarterly, the literary journal of Northwestern University, and Another Chicago Magazine. He has twice been honored with Illinois Arts Council Awards for his short fiction. His poetry has appeared online in "Your Daily Poem" website, in the WFOP yearly calendars, Verse Wisconsin, the Los Angeles Times, the Blue Heron Review, Moss Piglet, the Peninsula Pulse, and various anthologies. In 2014 he won the Wisconsin Writers Association "Jade Ring" award in the Free Verse category and in 2016 the WFOP Muse Prize. He has released five books of poetry: You Can Get Here from There: Poems of Door County & Other Places; Poetry Apocalypse & Selected Verse; Mr. President! Poems, Polemics and Fan Mail from Inside the Divide; Con/verse/sations with Myself; and, most recently, Toes, Toads, Tulips & Turtles: A Miscellany of Verse. He also co-edited with Tom Davis the anthology 7 By Seven: The Poet Laureates of Door County while serving as Door County's seventh Poet Laureate from 2021 - 2023. He currently writes the "Mike at the Movies" column for the Peninsula Pulse.

Carole Novak

Carole Novak lives in the western suburbs with her husband and two terriers. After retirement she attended Northeastern Illinois University and graduated with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. She has participated in creative writing workshops with Mardelle Fortier at the College of DuPage and is a member of the Oak Park Writers Group. Her work has been featured on Friday Flash Fiction, The Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and Highland Park Poetry's Muses' Gallery.

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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