Readings are free and open to the public. Book signing and reception follow the program, held on the second Friday of the month in downtown Charleston at:
The Charleston Library Society
164 King Street (just before Queen)
Seminars are also held at The Charleston Library Society, unless otherwise stated, and run from 10:00 a.m. to noon. Members $10, College of Charleston students free, all others $15.
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- September 2015: Rhett Iseman Trull (with Raena Shirali)
- October 2015: Jericho Brown (with Lisa Hase-Jackson)
- November 2015: Nickole Brown (Jessica Jacobs as opening reader)
- December 2015: Holiday Party, for PSSC members only
- January 2016: Annual Open Mic, Jim Lundy, emcee
- February 2016: Carol Potter (with Eugene Platt)
- March 2016: Katie Bickham
- April 2016: Barbara Hamby and David Kirby (double feature)
- May 2016: Annual Forum with Hastings Hensel
Rhett Iseman with Raena Shirali
Rhett Iseman Trull's first book of poetry, The Real Warnings (Anhinga Press, 2009), received several awards, including the Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award. Her work has appeared in The American Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, The Southern Review, and elsewhere. She and her husband publish Cave Wall in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Raena Shirali currently teaches English at College of Charleston, and received her MFA in poetry from The Ohio State University. Her work has appeared in several journals, and she is the recipient of a 2016 Pushcart Prize, the 2014 Gulf Coast Poetry Prize, and a 2013 “Discovery”/Boston Review Poetry Prize.
read two poems by Raena Shirali: "New Year as an Extremophile," and "Holi: Equinox Approaches"
Seminar with Rhett Iseman, "Submitting Your Poetry--Advice from an Editor"
Seeking publication for your writing can be daunting and can feel like a cold, impersonal process. But it doesn't have to be. The more you learn about the way the publishing world works, the more successful you will be in terms of finding a home for your poems. Why do we send our work out there? How do we even begin to do so? This seminar will offer advice on where to search for the right journal/press for your work and how to submit, as well as how to think about "rejection" in a different, more positive way. As editor of Cave Wall, I will explain our submission-reading and decision-making process to give you an insider's view.
There will be plenty of time for Q & A and a broader discussion of the publishing industry. All levels of writing and publishing experience are welcome.
Jericho Brown with Lisa Hase-Jackson
read Jericho Brown's "Colosseum"
Lisa Hase-Jackson teaches English and Poetry at the College of Charleston in Charleston, SC. Her current projects include an anthology of poems celebrating New Mexico’s 2012 centennial and a manuscript of her own poetry. Her poems have appeared in Kansas City Voices, Pilgrimage, Jasper/Fall Lines and elsewhere. She is the Review Editor for South 85 Journal
read Lisa Hase-Jackson's "Carnival"
Seminar with Jericho Brown, "Jump Start" Jericho Brown will guide participants in generating new work through a set of unconventional exercises that keep our ears open and our fingers moving. The workshop engenders new ideas about writing, and as there is a profound relationship between reading poetry and writing it, participants will read, discuss, and even recite the work of several poets whose examples might lead us to a further honing of our craft.
Poets should bring a single, short poem of their own for one of the exercises if time allows.
Nickole Brown with Jessica Jacobs
Nickole Brown wrote two collections of poems, Fanny Says and Sister, and co-edited the anthology Air Fare. She worked at the independent, literary press, Sarabande Books, for ten years, and she was the National Publicity Consultant for Arktoi Books and the Palm Beach Poetry Festival. She is an Assistant Professor at University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
Jessica Jacobs is the author of Pelvis with Distance, a biography-in-poems of Georgia O'Keeffe (White Pine Press, 2015). The 2016 Hendrix-Murphy Writer-in-Residence at Hendrix College, she is on faculty at the Sewanee Young Writers’s Conference, and lives in Little Rock with her wife, Nickole Brown.
read Jessica Jacob's "Coney Island, 1917"
Seminar with Nickole Brown and Jessica Jacobs, "Writing the Persona"
Write what you know: This most common of writing advice can also be the most confining—but only when limited to your own personal experiences. Instead, this generative workshop will invite you to take on other lives and voices in your poems, to write from perspectives, time periods, and even genders not your own.
Holiday Party, for PSSC members only
Be sure to write a limerick or a toast for the competition!
Annual Open Mic, Jim Lundy, emcee
Native Detroiter Jim Lundy has lived in Charleston since 1988, has served on PSSC’s board since 2006, and is curator and emcee of Monday Night Poetry & Music, Charleston's longest-running open mic. He has two chapbooks of poetry, All I Can Be Is Myself (2006) and Funny in the Way of Trenchant Men (2009), and a CD of original songs, Don't Believe Every Story You're Told (2012).
Carol Potter with Eugene Platt
Read two poems by Carol Potter
Carol Potter is the 2014 winner of the FIELD Poetry Prize from Oberlin College Press for her new book, Some Slow Bees. Her fourth book of poems, Otherwise Obedient was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in GLBT poetry. Previous books are Short History of Pets, Upside Down in the Dark, and Before We Were Born. Potter was awarded a Pushcart Prize in 2002 for her poem, “Three Crows.” Other honors include residencies at MacDowell, Yaddo, Fundacion Valapariso, Millay, Centrum, and at Cummington Community of the Arts.
Eugene Platt, long-time member and former vice president of the Poetry Society, is a native Charlestonian. He has given over 100 public readings of his work across the nation. Books include Summer Days with Daughter, Saint Andrew’s Parish, and Nuda Veritas. He lives with his wife Judith and corgi Henry.
read Eugene Platt's "Simple Words"
February 13, 10:00 a.m. to noon, Charleston Library Society
Seminar with Carol Potter, "Lying in the Middle of the World and Twitching*: The Work of Comic Poetry"
Comic poetry. What’s funny about it? Why isn’t everyone laughing? In this seminar we will focus on comic poems that are engaged in serious, often desperate discourse. This is furious and funny poetry, poetry that uses humor to “contain the terrible softness”; (Tim O’Brien) ; poetry that uses humor to criticize an imperfect society, and expose the pretensions and frailties of the self and others; poems that floodlight the underside; poems that cajole, make you chuckle and feel sweet, then bang you on the head, or make you weep. We will look at some reliable tactics, (puns, change-ups, word-play, use of character, situation, pop-ups, etc..) How is humor effective? Does it trivialize the “softness” or create order out of chaos? How does humor give one the permission to speak of the almost unspeakable? We will also look at one or two poems also that attempt humor and fail, ending up with cute.
Poets under discussion: Berryman, Simic, Stone, Potter, Garcia, Watson, Dobyns, Cynthia MacDonald, Soto, Dickinson, James Tate, Whitman, Dean Young, Koncell, Edson. As time allows.
Katie Bickham’s debut poetry collection, The Belle Mar, is the recipient of the 2014 Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize. Katie’s poetry has also won the 2013 Missouri Review Editor’s Prize, and her work has appeared in Pleiades, Prairie Schooner, The Missouri Review, and elsewhere. She currently teaches creative writing at Bossier Parish Community College.
March 13, 10:00 a.m. to noon, Charleston Library Society
Seminar with Katie Bickham, "Sacrificing Self: How Removing the I Can Save Poetry"
When did grand narrative, history, injustice, and current events step exclusively into the realm of prose writers? It is possible that, as poets, we have become so invested in our own stories that we are missing the larger call of the genre? We'll look at the work of some notable poets who have rejected the "I" and discuss how their work might make poetry more appealing and more necessary for a wider audience.
- The Belle Mar by Katie Bickham
- Holocaust by Charles Reznikoff
- Selected poems by Martin Espada (freely available via martinespada.net)
DOUBLE FEATURE: Barbara Hamby and David Kirby
Barbara Hamby is the author of five books of poetry, most recently On the Street of Divine Love: New and Selected Poems, University of Pittsburgh Press (2014). She is a 2010 Guggenheim Fellow in Poetry, and her book of short stories, Lester Higata's 20th Century, won the 2010 Iowa Prize and was published by the University of Iowa Press. She teaches at Florida State University where she is Distinguished University Scholar.
David Kirby teaches English at Florida State University. He is the author of LITTLE RICHARD: THE BIRTH OF ROCK 'N' ROLL, which the Times Literary Supplement of London called "a hymn of praise to the emancipatory power of nonsense." His latest poetry collection, GET UP, PLEASE, was published by LSU Press.
Annual Forum with Hastings Hensel
Hastings Hensel is the author of Winter Inlet, winner of the 2014-2015 Unicorn Press First Book Prize, and the chapbook Control Burn, winner of the Iron Horse Literary Review 2011 Single-Author Contest. The most recent South Carolina Arts commission fellow in poetry, his poems have appeared in storySouth, The Greensboro Review, Cave Wall, 32 Poems, and elsewhere. He lives in Murrells Inlet, SC and teaches in the English department at Coastal Carolina University.
May 14, 10:00 a.m. to noon
Seminar with Hastings Hensel, "‘I have wasted my life.’: The Merits and Drawbacks of the ‘Punchline Poem’"
Taking a look at James Wright’s “Lying in a Hammock…” and Rainier Maria Rilke’s “Archaic Torso of Apollo,” among others, as examples of “punchline poems”—poems whose endings seem to come from nowhere and serve as ironical jokes—we will discuss the merits and drawbacks of such surprise endings. Seminar participants are encouraged to think about which of their poems might be considered “punchline poems,” and to bring these to the seminar.
PSSC has hosted writers groups regularly since the early 1920s. Poetry Society members are invited to attend free of charge for support and critique of their poetry, and experienced poets are invited to moderate. If you want support to start a writers' group in your community, please contact PSSC.
The Poetry Society has asked Susan Laughter Meyers to teach workshops for the Writers' Group 3-4 times a year (instead of holding monthly sessions). Gathering for workshops will give the group an opportunity to discuss a specific poetry craft topic, or sometimes subjects beyond craft—a chance to look at the topic in depth. Each session will include a workshop packet with pertinent quotes, exemplary poems, writing activities, etc.
These workshops will be held 3-5 times a year. The tentative schedule for 2016 is as follows: with the next one tentatively scheduled for January 23rd.
- Januray 23rd
- April 23rd
- October 29
Free for PSSC/CLS members & CofC students; $15 for all others
(PSSC membership, $25 annually; new memberships welcome)
For more information, contact PSSC.