Top 
Bottom
Illinois State Poetry Society
Books Written by Current ISPS Members

Reviews of ISPS Members' Poetry Books
Home Page
Poetry Competition
ISPS Member Poems
Poem Index by Poet
Poem Index by Title
Poet Bios
ISPS Member Books
Submitting Poems
About ISPS
To Join ISPS
Other Sites




Search only ISPS site
The following ISPS poets have books published in various forms. We list the titles and the e-mail addresses through which you may request purchasing or downloading information. Click on the poet's name to read his or her bio.

ISPS PoetBook Title(s)E-mail Address
Doreen Ambrose-Van LeeRaised In Da Sun
Diary of A Midwestern Gettogurl
Damn, Candy Man He Ain't All That I Lived Beneath the Candy Lady for Years!
doreenambrose@yahoo.com
Susan B. AuldVisiting Morning and Other Quiet Places
Waiting Innocence
Chrysanthemum Dusk
suauld@yahoo.com
Sherri BakerSherri (with an i), Poems of Love and Losssherriwithani@charter.net
Mary Jo BalistreriJoy in the Morning
gathering the harvest
Best Brothers
joeybfl@gmail.com
Camille A. Balla Simple AwakeningsLinebyline7@aol.com
Bakul Banerjee Synchronicity: Poems
Bathymetry
bakulb@gmail.com
Joseph Kuhn Carey Postcards from Polandjcarey@schirmfirm.com
Tom Chockley Personal Myths: Born in mystery
Personal Myths: Numbers 2, 3, and 4
tomzhaiku@outlook.com
Kathy Lohrum Cotton Deluxe Box of Crayons
Common Ground (Book Review)
kalcotton@gmail.com
Charlotte Digregorio Haiku and Senryu: A Simple Guide for All
Shadows of Seasons: Selected Haiku and Senryu
Ripples of Air: Poems of Healing (Book Review)
You Can Be A Columnist
Beginners' Guide to Writing & Selling Quality Features
Everything You Need to Know About Nursing Homes
Your Original Personal Ad
c-books@hotmail.com
Janice Doppler Stardust janice1224118@gmail.com
Jennifer Dotson Clever Gretel
Late Night Talk Show Fantasy & Other Poems (Book Review)
jennifer@highlandparkpoetry.org
Idella Pearl Edwards Magnify
Hope Renewed
Respect for Parents 101
Look at the Birds
Don't Hang Your Harps on the Willow Tree
The Adventures of Trudy the Tree Swallow
All Things New
I'm Just Ducky
A Vacation to Remember
Happy To Be Me
Snow White, the Princess
Can't Wait!
Children of Light
The Contest
Rhythm for the Soul
Cadence of Hope
Diet Poems To Munch On
Apples of Gold
With Rhyme and Reason
The Sky's the Limit
Meow Cat-alog of Poetry
idellapearl@frontier.com
David P. Eldridge Reflectionsdpeldridge@comcast.net
jacob erin-cilberto Intersection Blues
Used Lanterns
An Abstract Waltz
fogerin1@aol.com
Michael Escoubas Monet in Poetry and Paint
Steve Henderson in Poetry and Paint
Little Book of Devotions: Poems that Connect Nature, God, and Man
Images
farside747@hotmail.com
Mardelle Fortier White Fire: for Olympic Skatersfortier@cod.edu
Cynthia Gallaher Frugal Poets' Guide to Life: How to Live a Poetic Life, Even If You Aren't a Poet
Omnivore Odes: Poems About Food, Herbs and Spices
Earth Elegance
Swimmer's Prayer
Night Ribbons
Epicurean Ecstasy: More Poems about Food, Drink, Herbs and Spices
Drenched
swimmerpoet@gmail.com
Alan HarrisSparks from the Flame
Splashes and Breezes
The Wheel of Yes
Checkered Opus
Online PDF Books
oasis@alharris.com
Chris HolavesEven the Dead Get Up for Milk
Running with the Bats
A Mosaic of Faith
10282new@gmail.com
Glenna HollowayNever Far from Water: And Other Love Storiesglennapoet@gmail.com
Caroline JohnsonWhere the Street Ends
My Mother's Artwork
The Caregiver
twinkscat@aol.com
Michael Lee Johnson Moonlight Dreamers of Yellow Haze
Dandelion in a Vase of Roses
Warriors with Wings
The Lost American: From Exile to Freedom
From Which Place the Morning Rises
promomanusa@gmail.com
Jim LambertThe Winds of Lifejim@jimlambert.net
G. Jordan MaclayTransformations: Poetry and Artjordanmaclay@quantumfields.com
Bonnie ManionSoul Search
Behind Prison Walls
Glory in the Ordinary
Floor of the Sky
Picture Healing
bjmanion61@gmail.com
William Marr Autumn Window
Between Heaven and Earth
Love Poems of William Marr
Chicago Serenade
The Selected Chinese / English Poems of William Marr
Beyond All Colors
A Dreamless Night
Every Day a Blue Sky
The Art World of William Marr
marrfei@gmail.com
Farouk MasudHell Won't Hold Me and Heaven Can't Keep Me Outdarkpoetfarouk@hotmail.com
David McKennaRoadside Diner
Blood Gems of Orochi
david_mckenna@comcast.net
Irving F. MillerMoonburnifmiller@sbcglobal.net
Wilda MorrisSzechwan Shrimp and Fortune Cookies: Poems from a Chinese Restaurant
Pequod Poems: Gamming with Moby-Dick
wem@ameritech.net
Susan T. MossKeep Moving 'til the Music Stops
In From The Dark
Mapping a Life
stm48@hotmail.com
Marilyn PerettiTo Love Cranes
Let Wings Take you
Angel's Wings, drawings & poems of mushrooms
To Remember To Hope: thoughts of Japan and Haiti
Lichen: Poems of Nature
marilynperetti@yahoo.com
Patty Dickson PieczkaPainting the Egret's Echo
Lacing Through Time
Word Paintings
ror1st@hotmail.com
Donna PuccianiTo Sip Darjeeling at Dawn
Chasing the Saints
Jumping Off the Train
The Other Side of Thunder
hanging like hope on the equinox
A Light Dusting of Breath
Ghost Garden
Edges
dpucciani@yahoo.com
James ReissWhen Yellow Leaves
The Breathers
Ten Thousand Good Mornings
reissja@miamioh.edu
Barbara RobinetteSea Leafs by Moonrobinette70@hotmail.com
Nancy Ann SchaeferIn Search of Lode
Living at Hope's Edge
n.schaefer@myfairpoint.net
Richard Ellis ShawThe Heart of a PoetRichard.Shaw@nl.edu
Southern Illinois Chapter - ISPSRemember: Poems for the 20th Anniversary of 9/11
The First Six Months: Poems During a Pandemic
Poems of the Eclipse 8.21.17
Where We Walk
s.i.poets7@gmail.com
Curt VevangThe Prince and the Elf
The Prince, and the Elf Too
a scant bagatelle
the nature of things
curt@curtvevang.com
Doyle Raymond VinesField Trips to Reality
Winter Soup
Written Pictures
Poet's Post Anthology (4 Vol.)
southpasspub@hotmail.com
Undra' Ware Sr.The Purpose of Beingulware1@yahoo.com




Reviews of ISPS Members' Poetry Books
Written by members of ISPS or NFSPS

  • Common Ground by Kathy Lohrum Cotton

  • Ripples of Air: Poems of Healing by Charlotte Digregorio

  • Images: a Collection of Ekphrastic Poetry by Michael Escoubas

  • Remember: Poems for the 20th Anniversary of 9/11
        by Southern Chapter, Illinois State Poetry Society

  • Sherri (with an i): Poems of Love and Loss
        by Sherri Lohrum Baker

  • Late Night Talk Show Fantasy & Other Poems
        by Jennifer Dotson






  • Common Ground by Kathy Lohrum Cotton

    Reviewed by jacob erin-cilberto


    What can be said about Common Ground, a poetic offering from Kathy Lohrum Cotton? Her words are most relatable to both the avid poetic mind as well as the reader who might not have so much of a poetic leaning. As her "Words of Peace Villanelle" states:

    "to find a common ground where conflicts cease
    to rage alone, a place where pain abates
    There is sweet symmetry in words of peace"

    Now who cannot relate to these words? We all seek peace today in this world of unrest, many of us if not most rage alone and we can all find symmetry in words of peace. Hers really hit the mark and soften the heart.

    In another poem, Kathy proclaims:

    "I will be the word 'welcome'
    Spoken by eyes and open hands
    till we become
    a fluent conversation."

    There could not be a more fluent wordsmith than Kathy Cotton. She shows us how to construct "a mythic man/ from his finest qualities" and how to construct poems of the finest quality creating "a story she will recall/ all her remaining days." I consider poets as artists and Kathy is that in every sense of the word "artist." She is well-known for mixing words with drawings, stripping life down to essentials, with no words wasted but rather reassembled to make what we can understand and relate to so easily. And she certainly sharpens them down "to a thing of beauty."

    In one poem "Lipstick Over a Bruise," she writes:

    "You live in the fluorescence of it,
    A thousand-watt wish to burn off
    the ever-clinging humidity of sadness
    secreted beneath rugs and cushions"

    And if we search beneath those rugs and cushions, we will surely find a bright light in her voice that is quite capable of reducing those shadows and creating knowing smiles to replace them.

    In "Kinesthetic Conversation," Kathy infers:

    "spattered with ellipses
    I touch your hand
    in this unedited moment
    just because
    you are within reach."

    We are all within reach of her moments, both edited and unedited. And our reactions will often be unedited and from the heart because that is where her words will hit us, at the core.

    All we need to do is to pick up Common Ground and start reading the first few pages. It will be enough to engage us in common ground with the poet, a ground we will want to cover from first page to last. And it is a journey that will set deeply within our conscious and remain indefinitely.

    —jacob erin-cilberto (author of pour me another poem, please)





    Ripples of Air: Poems of Healing by Charlotte Digregorio

    Reviewed by Michael Escoubas


    "I get discouraged when I encounter poetry that is supposed to be great poetry but is so hard to understand that I give up after reading just a few lines."

    I frequently hear this among friends when I mention that I write poetry. I didn't always have an adequate comeback . . . until now. Today, I would introduce my sincere but uninformed friends to Charlotte Digregorio's new collection, Ripples of Air: Poems of Healing. Packed into a mere 236 pages, fortunate readers encounter some 14 distinct poetic forms. The volume contains something for everyone: from compact oriental forms to sonnets, to the little known etheree, to fun forms such as acrostics and limericks, free verse and more. It is all here, written in an accessible style for all to savor.

    The book is arranged in 12 sections: Nostalgia, Peace, Creatures, People, Work, The Heart, Seasons' Potpourri, Solitude, Art, Wonder and Whimsy, The Spiritual, and Aging, Illness, Death (these last three comprise one whole section). Each section is introduced by a short narrative that provides background, context and life-application to the poems that follow. Variety and mature craftsmanship showcase each section.

    Like many readers, I tend to shortchange introductions to the books I review. Not this time! The collection is subtitled Poems of Healing. For Digregorio, the introduction becomes a vehicle for making her case for the entire book. Who among us hasn't needed healing? Who among us has not spent time in the cave of despair? Who among us hasn't needed an outlet for anger or loss? Who among us has not strolled through fragrant gardens and longed for a way to express how it felt? Trust me on this one: spend quality time on Digregorio's six-page intro.

    Writer Annie Dillard has noted, A writer is a professional observer. Dillard is referencing more than simple visual interaction with subjects; she is saying that effective artists, whatever the medium, must engage their craft with a heart of love. Digregorio could have written that; she sees and feels everything more deeply and it shows.

    In the "Nostalgia" section readers are invited to return to fond memories of childhood, to people and places, sights and aromas now gone but re-experienced through poetry. Here's a nostalgic teaser which I share in full:

    Looking Back

    On the prairie,
    with faraway whistles
    of trains,
    I feel the pipe waves,
    pipe dreams of youth,
    see the whale's eye,
    and coastal mountains.
    Sunrise, my sacred place,
    where sea touches sky,
    the Eternal.
    Afternoon sun
    steams my pores,
    night breeze
    brushes my back
    in the ebb
    of another life.

    What stands out about Digregorio's work is her range of subjects. She is just as comfortable, On the riverbank, [where] I sun my face / and listen to a singing frog // as she is describing life in the city where, structures of glass, steel, and stone / stand in defiance of sky, / rising through swollen clouds / from earth to eternity.//

    In Section 4, "People" Digregorio reveals her sensitivity to the human condition, with poems about the plight of the homeless, and those who risk everything by coming to America, here are excerpts from Foreigner:

    He arrives in his fifties
    from his native land
    living unknown.

    Soft gray eyes, a calm smile,
    voice cadenced
    approaching a spring song.

    As the poem develops...

    He tells me today is
    the best of yesterday,

    something to remember
    in twilight skies when
    winds are with him.

    Heightening the emotional effect of "People," is an impressive array of modern haiku, senryu and tanka which capture the poignancy of human interaction or, at times, the despair of people in great need while the rest of us have plenty:

    at our thanksgiving table
    i say grace, mindful of
    the young man in the park
    cocooned from hunger
    face buried in his knees

    I was delighted to encounter three Petrarchan sonnets in Section 5, "Work." These superbly crafted poems entitled respectively, "Seizing the Day," "The Will to Write," and "Finding Peace," breathe fresh air into common work experiences. I found it easy to apply these poems to daily life.

    As a confirmed introvert, I admit that I would rather be alone than in big groups of people or hoisting drinks at parties. Maybe that is why Section 8, "Solitude" spoke so profoundly to me. Notice the deep reservoir of images the poet draws from in Respite:

    White moon from my window,
    sun-dried sheets, scented
    with cedar and fir.
    I lapse into a dream,
    calls of a loon.
    Branches bend on banks
    of a runaway river,
    clusters of evergreens,
    cranes in deepening brown.
    Night-walking the winding trail,
    I spiral in wind through
    a blaze of copper leaves
    until gray wakes me to
    the weight of a new day.

    Readers need not be "religious" per se, to appreciate Digregorio's poems in Section 11, "The Spiritual." No Bible-thumping here. With grace she uses the little known and often under-appreciated "etheree" to usher her readers into the Afterlife:

    Calm
    Silence.
    I ascend,
    spiralling to
    the summit. Seabirds
    glide to meet me, from sand
    to sublimity, lost in
    cantatas of rippling refrain.
    Lilac, lilies, and pale peach roses
    perfume the dust of a marigold haze.

    Editor's note: Invented by Etheree Taylor Armstrong (1918-1994), this syllabic form begins with one syllable and increases the syllable-count line-by-line through ten lines.

    Just preceding Afterlife, the poet visages a woman's last moments in a tanka your reviewer has internalized as his own:

    how small her room
    in which she lies bedridden
    but how vast the sky
    filled with blue
    awaiting her arrival

    THE DIFFERENCE IN THIS BOOK AND THE DIFFERENCE IT MAKES

    Your reviewer would be remiss if he did not point out that Ripples of Air is different from any poetry book he has reviewed before. More than a collection of poetry, Digregorio offers practical, hands-on support for beginning as well as experienced writers. Treasures to be unearthed in the 20 pages of back matter include: A comprehensive bibliography of healing poetry collections, multiple lists of publications that publish poetry; ideas for general print/broadcast media that feature poets; and ideas on types of associations, organizations and businesses that promote poets through awards, interviews, readings, speaking venues, workshop engagements, and exhibitions of their work.

    As poets, we often think that writing our poems is primary (and it is), that said, are we willing to put in the work and time necessary to promote and sell our product? Digregorio helps us get off the sidelines and "into the promotional game." WE NEED THIS BOOK!!

    While I've provided no more than a gentle breeze in this review; hopefully, you have felt just enough Ripples of Air, to make purchasing a copy of Charlotte Digregorio's Poems of Healing, the next important thing you do today.

    Michael Escoubas





    Images: A Collection of Ekphrastic Poems by Michael Escoubas

    Reviewed by Barbara Robinette


    In his book, Images: A Collection of Ekphrastic Poems, Michael Escoubas tells the truth as he sees it and expertly names the feelings from the various paintings and photographs presented. He writes with warmth and compassion in each situation. He is non-judgmental of human circum-stances, as in "Resting", about a woman still in bed after her lover has long gone. He speaks gently for the woods in his poem "Light across the Trail."

    These 29 ekphrastic poems come from paintings by van Gogh, Cezanne, Monet and others, to various photographs including butterflies and the moon, to a photograph of a man carrying Hector Pieterson toward the press cars in "Soweto, June 16, 1976." Most are free verse but one acrostic and one etheree are also included. Many of the paintings and photographs are in color which adds to the enjoyment of this book.

    These poems give this reader a feeling of peace and wholesomeness in a not perfect world. The poems are accessible and words are used well to name the feelings without being overly sentimental. Michael Escoubas has easily succeeded doing the poet's job, "...to tell the whole truth...in such a beautiful way..." as defined by Jane Kenyon. A book worth reading!

    Barbara Robinette, author of Affirmation

    **

    "The poet's job is to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, in such a beautiful way that people cannot live without it; to put into words those feelings we all have that are so deep, so important, and yet so difficult to name."  by Jane Kenyon





    remember
    Remember: Poems for the 20th Anniversary of 9/11
    by Southern Chapter, Illinois State Poetry Society

    Reviewed in Quill & Parchment
    by Michael Escoubas







    Sherri (with an i): Poems of Love and Loss
    by
    Sherri Lohrum Baker

    Reviewed by jacob erin-cilberto


    On the back cover of this book is a logo and email address that says deepwellpoetry. And that is a perfect way to describe what is in this offering. Sherri Lohrum Baker presents a deep well of emotions that tug the heart strings of the reader as she covers love and loss with such brute honesty and brilliant execution of words.

    Lohrum Baker undresses her soul in "Seven Minutes" written of her daughter who drowned. She says "In seven minutes you can/ talk with a friend, listen to music/ eat pancakes, do the dishes—" Yes, in that time of being under water, a mother loses a daughter "on a day that should have been ordinary." This poem just slaps our heart with such a hard blow.

    And then in "Opus of a Lifetime" she gives us "Primitive drawings and/ fanciful musings /... proof of a talented existence/ proof that you were here." And then she closes with "left me to hold these tangible items/ stained with tears of missing you."

    She writes in "The First Christmas," "The wailing woman was me, trying to stay sane, trying to show my child that a mother's love does not stop just because you left this earth too soon." Those of us who have lost loved ones much too young will relate to the emotion set into motion as these poems dance across the page with palpable sorrow. In "Angel Stories" she writes, "Create a story/ just for me. Let me feel, if only for/ a moment, that I'm not sitting here alone/ inside my self-imposed prison."

    I know I have tended to jail myself in a sentence of grief, having lost several people very close to me when they were still so young and had so much more to give to the world. And speaking of tending, she refers to tending the family garden in the poem "The Garden." She is referring to the family plot in the cemetery in which she will reside one day as well. Then it will be up to the next in line to tend the "Garden."

    Lohrum Baker also speaks of a different type of prison as she writes poems about her own dealing with Covid-19. On the positive side she expresses that "finally a day came when my fever was gone/ and I finished a shower without taking breaks."

    Most often a book of poems is read in bits and pieces, for me this book was an exception. I just couldn't put it down, read it cover to cover in one sitting. This is a story of life and death put into verse and it has movement, rhythm and sometimes rhyme that just won't quit.

    These amazing poems show the strength of family, the support found within, and the words needed to be written to not only express the grief but also somehow cope with loss after loss after loss of those we love.

    jacob erin-cilberto, author of Book




    Late Night Talk Show Fantasy & Other Poems
    by
    Jennifer Dotson

    Reviewed by Mary Beth Bretzlauf


    Jennifer Dotson's latest poetry book, Late Night Talk Show Hosts and Other Poems, is a great example of thinking outside the poetry box with a clever sense of humor. This book contains so much more.

    This book gives you great characters, like the poet in this title poem;
            "The world famous poet chuckles with the late night talk show host and the two trade dazzling word play for the cameras and the studio audience..."

    In "The Secret Life of Three" and "Living with a Beanstalk Boy", you're the fly in the room as we see Jesus' parents, Mary and Joseph, have issues like the rest of us, and Jack's mother notes the poverty they still exist in despite a beanstalk and a goose that lays golden eggs.

    In "Edwin Booth's Dagger" we get a glimpse at the persecuted brother of John Wilkes Booth for being something he could not deny or avoid — a brother to the most reviled man in U.S. history — and now long forgotten as the greatest stage actor of his time.

    "Space Tacos" puts us in zero gravity trying to assemble tacos and asks the unspoken question, how does she come up with these things?

    There are timely poems like "How to Prepare for a Disaster" and "Pathogen Rampage" when it describes an eerily familiar score:
            The first days a disease touched
            down on U.S. soil with the return of
            weary health workers from the shores
            of Death the future was still before us.

    Within the pages of her book, Ms. Dotson also shares with us poetic forms that she dabbles in like Etheree, Ghazal, Gwawdodyn, and Luc Bat. These poems are masterfully executed, which is another reason why her poetry workshops broaden the horizons of all who attend.

    My favorite poems (really, it's hard to pick just a few) also reveal special moments like "My Mother Is a Dancer", Dulce de Leche", "Aunt Helen's Farm", "Apology to My Books", "Passing the Crown", "10 Things I Learned from My Mother", and "Driving Lessons".

    Mary Beth Bretzlauf



    Copyright Notice: Copyrights for all books on this page remain with their respective authors. No work here is to be reused without permission from its author.