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Illinois State Poetry Society
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ISPS Member Poems

ISPS Haiga Gallery

Poem Index by Poet

Poem Index by Title

ISPS Poet Bios

ISPS Member Books

ISPS Book Reviews

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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
Joe Glaser
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 Poems

Random Poem
(24-yr collection)

New ISPS Haiga

Random ISPS Haiga
Upcoming ISPS Meetings

A Message from our ISPS President

ISPS Member Poetry Postings, 2000-2024

ISPS Newsletters - July/August and Previous

"Last Sunday" Reading at Brewed Awakening

Random posting of poems (2000-2024)

Reviews: Members' Poetry Books

Haiga Gallery (haiku in photo)

All ISPS Poetry Anthologies

2024 ISPS Poetry Contest

Important ISPS Dates

Contact Us

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 for regular membership, $30.00 for "Patron" listing, $50.00 for "Benefactor" listing, or $10.00 for student membership (ages 11-21). 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.

Important ISPS Dates

Upcoming ISPS Meetings

A Message from our ISPS President

by Mary Beth Bretzlauf

Mary Beth Bretzlauf

Dear Poetry Family,

I returned from the NFSPS Convention in Roswell, Georgia with pages of notes, several poems in various stages of drafts and most of all, I made wonderful connections with so many poets from across the country. Besides, workshops and keynote speakers from the Atlanta, Georgia area and Ihor Pavlyuk from Kyiv, Ukraine (virtually), there was business — the election of the NFSPS officers. I hope to share more with you soon.

Congratulations to all ISPS members who are 2024 NFSPS winners:

Jocelyn Ajami, Chicago, IL
Barbara Funke, St. George, UT
Paul Buchheit, Chicago, IL
Melissa Huff, Champaign, IL
Kathy Cotton, Anna, IL
Emore D. Jones, Iuka, MS
Stephanie DuPont, Roswell, GA
Elizabeth King, Elgin, IL
Daniel Fitzgerald, Pontiac, IL
Donna Pucciani, Wheaton, IL

I want to keep you up to date on the progress of a new website. We have selected a design and are working on getting things up and running soon. One of the jarring realizations is that our webmaster, Alan Harris has done so much single-handedly!

Realistically, it will take several of us to keep the website going from here on out, so while I do have a couple of volunteers, a few more are needed to get us where we need to be and stay up to date. Please reach out to me at

Keep writing,
Mary Beth

Archive of Presidents' Messages

"Last Sunday" Poetry Reading, July 28, 2024

Two teenage winners from the Manningham Contest and one experienced poet will be featured on Sunday, July 28, 12:30-2:00 pm at a hybrid event which is sponsored by the Illinois State Poetry Society and Brewed Awakening. Twins Piper and Henry Sobel will read their winning poems as well as others they have written. Karen Fullett-Christensen, who was the first Poet Laureate of Aurora, will share the spotlight. 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 $8. Get your ticket here. You may participate in the open mic either way.

Piper Sobel

Piper Sobel, a 14-year-old poet and writer, has always had a passion for the written word. In addition to crafting poems, Piper writes songs and one-act plays and is currently a member of the Dramatist Guild. Piper has also been involved in the performing arts with appearances on stage at the Paramount Theater and the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Henry Sobel

Henry Sobel, a 14-year-old poet, finds inspiration in the beauty of nature. His passion for the outdoors, love of watching clouds, and deep appreciation for the natural world shine through in his work. Henry's poem, "Skymasters," captures the wonder and majesty of the skies, reflecting his unique perspective and youthful creativity.

Karen Fullett-Christensen

Karen Fullett-Christensen was born and raised on the north side of Chicago. She's a 1968 graduate of Mather High School, and a 1972 graduate of Northern Illinois University. She's called many places home, including several of Chicago's south and west suburbs, and way out west in Missoula, Montana. Karen pursued a number of occupations: switchboard operator, secretary, farm worker, real estate agent, and teacher. For the 20+ years before she retired, she was engaged as an urban planner and program manager. Currently she serves on the board of the Lifelong Learning Institute at Waubonsee Community College and co-manages A-Town Poetics, a writers' group in Aurora created specifically for poets. Fullett-Christensen has been crafting poetry for 60 years. In January 2020, she was appointed as the first Poet Laureate for the City of Aurora and in April 2024 was named Poet Laureate Emeritus.

Fresh Ink, 2023 Anthology of 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)
To Sample and Order at

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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