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Benefactors ($50)
Jocelyn Ajami
Mary Jo Balistreri
Joe Glaser
Chris Holaves
Lee Johnson
Farouk Masud
Myron Stokes

Patrons ($30)
David LaRue Alexander
William Carey
Debbie Crawford
Carole Croll
Michael Freveletti
Dan Fitzgerald
Georgiann Foley
John J. Gordon
Larry Hays
Melissa Huff
Sheila Kirscher
Emma A. Kowalenko
Jim Lambert
Bonnie Leer
Georgina Milsted
Tom Moran
Kathleen Robinson
Nancy Schaefer
Irfanulla Shariff
Rick Shaw
Ruth Siburt
Keith Skilling
Joe Solberg
Judith Tullis

In Memoriam
Sally Hanson Calhoun
Nancy Jean Carrigan
David Christensen
Don Cornwell
Phillip Egelston
Jonathan Foster, OFM
Patricia Gangas
Chris Holaves
Glenna Holloway
Usha Mahisekar
John Mahoney
Marguerite McClelland
Martha S. Moss
John Pawlik
Ina Perlmuter
James Reiss
Marge Samuel
Doyle Raymond Vines
Paul J. Wolf


Illinois State Poetry Society
New Poems
New Haiga


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 editions of poetry written by ISPS members. All ISPS members are invited to submit a poem each two-month period. (How and when to submit) You are invited to read the ISPS member poems and haiga posted in June 2019 as well as previous postings.

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


ISPS News Bulletins

A Message from the ISPS President, June, 2019

by Susan T. Moss, ISPS President

Susan T. Moss

Now that summer is blooming its way in, each of us needs to remember to renew our ISPS membership by the end of June. The next official year begins July 1, 2019. With the new term, Melissa Huff will be leaving the board as a fine secretary, and many thanks to her for an excellent job. A big welcome to two new members, Mike Freveletti and Mary Beth Bretzlauf.

Already under discussion are more poetry programs and member reading opportunities. June 15 there will be an ekphrastic event at the Downers Grove Library and an open mic planned for September. In keeping with the goal of finding venues to share our work, the April Poetry Month library displays were very successful. This year there were fifteen locations and a members' reading at the North Branch Evanston Library. Several ISPS poets also attended the Poetry Fest at the Harold Washington Library in Chicago where sessions on how to improve poetry writing were offered along with a poetry reading by Poet Laureate, Tracy K. Smith. In later June, some of our members plan to attend the NFSPS convention in Santa Fe for what promises to be a fun and informative gathering.

While not everyone enjoys or feels the need to attend poetry workshops, the experience can renew creative energy and help frame ideas for fresh work. Recently, I attended a seminar on adding metaphor, myth, music and mystery to poems. Not every piece will contain all these possibilities; however, referring to a mythological character such as Superwoman or Icarus, for examples, can help add metaphor or even mystery. Repetition of words, sounds, and ideas can add a lyrical flow that smoothly carries the reader. There is always so much to explore within our own writing technique, topics, goals and experiments as well as ongoing searches for new audiences to share our work. Let's take in the message that Li-Young Lee's "One Heart" offers as a metaphor and positive invitation in the following poem:

          Look at the birds. Even flying
          is born

          out of nothing. The first sky
          is inside you, open

          at either end of day.
          The work of wings
          was always freedom, fastening
          one heart to every falling thing.

Happy writing,

Susan T. Moss
stm48@hotmail.com

Archive of Presidents' Messages


"Last Sunday" Poetry Reading, June 30, 2019

On On Sunday, June 30, Mary Jo Balistreri and Michael Escoubas will be reading their poetry at Brewed Awakening, the coffee shop in Westmont. There will also be an open mic. The event will run from 12:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. and includes an open mic. The cover charge of $12 plus tax entitles each person to coffee or other beverage and a snack. Brewed Awakening is located at 19 West Quincy, across from the METRA station in Westmont.

Mary Jo Balistreri

Mary Jo Balistreri began her creative life in music. Growing up in a musical household where both grandparents were professional musicians, her father a popular radio singer, and her mother a tap-dancing professional, it was as if she breathed music. When in 2005 her 7-year-old grandson, Sam, died, it changed her life. For the first time, music did not help her transcend the loss. She found herself trying to learn the music of words. She has been writing ever since. She has two poetry books published by Bellowing Ark Press, Joy in the Morning, and gathering the harvest; a chapbook, Best Brothers by Tiger's Eye Press, and the latest book of poetry, Still by Future Cycle Press, 2018.


Michael Escoubas

Michael Escoubas has been described as a late bloomer. He began writing poetry for publication at age 66 after retiring in 2013 from a 48-year career in the printing industry. Prior to this he read, studied and educated himself in poetry for approximately 25 years. His interest in poetry was spawned in childhood by his mother who encouraged him by saying, "You have a gift for words and I hope you do something with that gift." Now 71, Michael serves as editor and staff book reviewer for Quill and Parchment, a 17-year old cultural and literary arts online poetry journal. His poems have been published over 200 times in a variety of venues.


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
To Sample and Order at Amazon.com
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.
To Sample and Order at Amazon.com
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.
To Sample and Order at Amazon.com

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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