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Benefactors ($50)
Mary Jo Balistreri
Mary Beth Bretzlauf
Dan Fitzgerald
Joe Glaser
Lee Johnson
Donald Lyles
Jenene Ravesloot
Tom Roby
Arthur Voellinger

Patrons ($30)
Jocelyn Ajami
David LaRue Alexander
Candace Armstrong
Diane Lotko Baker
Mary Jo Balistreri
Camille Balla
Eva Boczon
William T. Carey
Thomas Chockley
Patrice Claeys
Jennifer Dotson
Dan Fitzgerald
Georgiann Foley
Michael Freveletti
Karen Fullett-Christensen
Leo Gehr
John J. Gordon
Susan Gundlach
Larry Hays
Joris Heise
M. E. Hope
Melissa Huff
Phyllis Janik
Steven Kappes
Sheila Kirscher
S. Michael Kozubek
Jim Lambert
Jill Langlois
William Lederer
G. Jordan Maclay
Carol Marcus
Karian Markos
Georgina Milsted
Tom Moran
Wilda Morris
Leslie A. Peet
Marcia Pradzinski
Marjorie Rissman
Nancy Schaefer
Irfanulla Shariff
Ruth Siburt
Joe Solberg
Judith Tullis
Maggie Van Dyke
Arthur Voellinger
Linda Wallin

In Memoriam
Sally Hanson Calhoun
Nancy Jean Carrigan
David Christensen
Don Cornwell
Phillip Egelston
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
Marge Samuel
Doyle Raymond Vines
Paul J. Wolf
Marvin R. Young (2017)

Illinois State Poetry Society
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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 August 2022 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.

Upcoming ISPS Meetings

A Message from the ISPS President, July/August, 2022

by Susan T. Moss, ISPS President

Susan T. Moss

Poems have been submitted for our next anthology. This biennial collection is one of the benefits of ISPS membership and a popular way to share with each other and those who have an opportunity to read the poetry. As always, the topics and styles vary and create optimal insights and reading pleasure.

One of the themes that has occurred more than once is Covid in its various iterations. The need to express our fears, loneliness, gratitude to the caretakers, and efforts to cope with a pandemic are some of the common threads that have been addressed.

Poetry offers this opportunity to share our views of whatever concerns us. We poets are fortunate to have the ability to express these ideas in a compact and literary format that focuses on the heart of a subject in an explicit, artistic and interesting way.

What do nature, politics, familial and friendship ties, among other topics, have to say to us? What can we learn from daily events and connections and how can we condense our creativity into the essence of chosen topics? Sometimes it's helpful to sit or go for a walk and think about ideas. When some thoughts occur, record them on your phone or carry a little tablet of paper and a pen. Some good ideas can fly away if not held fast.

While thinking about what to write next, keep in mind that our annual fall contest will offer opportunities to put your work out for a little competitive word jousting. Summer can be a relaxing time to open the floodgates of word possibilities. What good ideas may be hiding among blooms and green leaves, cheerful bird calls, longer days into shorter nights? What can we learn from living in each precious moment that offers both the good and bad news of our lives? Naomi Shihab Nye's poem "A Single Slice Reveals Them" finds deeper meaning in an apple:

        An Apple on the table
        hides its seeds
        so neatly
        under seamless skin.
        But we talk and talk and talk
        to let somebody

Happy writing,

Susan T. Moss

Archive of Presidents' Messages

ISPS Collage Poetry Reading - Downers Grove 4/29/22

Poems written by members of the ISPS will be read on Friday, April 29, 6:30-8:00 p.m., at the Downers Grove Public Library, Downers Grove, IL. The poems were written in response to artwork by members of the Midwest Collage Society. For more information, see All the poems submitted are posted on the wall at the library. At least one poem responding to each artist will be read aloud Friday as pictures of the art works are projected on the wall.

"Last Sunday" Poetry Reading, August 28, 2022

The Illinois State Poetry Society and Brewed Awakening have another exciting poetry reading scheduled for Sunday, August 28, 12:30 - 2:00 PM Central Time. Featured poets are Maggie Kennedy and Albert DeGenova. You are invited to participate in the open mic (in person or virtually). You may listen or participate by going to Brewed Awakening (19 W Quincy Street, Westmont, IL, just off Cass Avenue, across the street from the train station), or by joining us on Zoom. At the coffeeshop, there is a $12 cover charge, which entitles you to a beverage and snack. Or you may listen to the featured poets and read your own poem on Zoom for $5.00. Tickets may be purchased here.

Maggie Kennedy

Maggie Kennedy spends early mornings staring out her window at a row of sycamores towering over her neighborhood in Brookfield, Ill. Once in a while, a poem comes along. Her work has appeared in Epiphany, Meat for Tea, Cloudbank, Atticus Review, and other publications. She got the creative writing bug by studying under Bruce Guernsey at Eastern Illinois University. She went on to get a Masters in English and creative writing from the University of Chicago.

Al DeGenova

Albert DeGenova is a poet, publisher, and teacher. He is the author of four books of poetry and three chapbooks. His most recent book is Black Pearl: poems of love, sex and regret; his collection of haibun and poetry, Postcards to Jack, was recently released in a second expanded edition. His chapbook, Mama's Blues, is forthcoming this August from Finishing Line Press. His work has also appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. He received his MFA from Spalding University in Louisville. He is the founder of After Hours Press and co-editor of After Hours magazine, a journal of Chicago writing and art, which launched in June of 2000. DeGenova is also a blues saxophonist and one-time contributing editor to Down Beat magazine. He splits his time now between Sturgeon Bay, WI, and the metro Chicago area.

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.
Sneak Peek
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