Friday, March 31, 2017

Wednesday, April 19: Pints & Poets readings, Spartanburg, SC

April 19, 2017
Readings by Robert Lee Kendrick & Susan Laughter Meyers
8 p.m., Hub City Tap House
197 East St. John St., Spartanburg, SC
Hosted by Converse College MFA in Creative Writing

I'm excited to be a part of this lively event and look forward to meeting and reading with Robert Lee Kendrick. It's the last Pints & Poets reading of the semester for the Converse College MFA in Creative Writing program--a chance to celebrate National Poetry Month.

About Robert Lee Kendrick:
Robert Lee Kendrick grew up in Illinois and Iowa, but now calls South Carolina home. After earning his M.A. from Illinois State University and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina, he held a number of jobs, ranging from house painter to pizza driver to grocery store worker to line cook. He now lives in Clemson with his wife and their dogs. His poems have appeared in Tar River Poetry, Xavier Review, Louisiana Literature, South Carolina Review, The James Dickey Review, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, and elsewhere. His chapbook, Winter Skin, was released in 2016 by Main Street Rag Publishing.

Hmm, it sounds like a party. Should I leave my elegiac poems at home?

April 1, 2017: SC State Library's "Young Minds Dreaming" Poetry Contest -- awards ceremony

SC State Library's "Young Minds Dreaming" Poetry Contest
Awards Ceremony
April 1, 2017, 3 p.m.
SC State Library, 1500 Senate St., Columbia, SC
Pamela Hoppock, Coordinator
Attending & featured: author Jacqueline Woodson.

Youngest winner
with author Jacqueline Woodson
I was honored to be asked to be one of the judges for the inaugural "Young Minds Dreaming" Poetry Contest, sponsored by the South Carolina State Library. South Carolina students in grades 3-12 were invited to submit poems relating stories of a person, place, or an experience that made a mark on student's lives. 

There were nine judges. I judged the submissions from the 3rd graders, a rich assortment of poems consisting of about 90 entries. Then the three judges assigned to the elementary grades judged the top nine poems from grades 3-5. Thank you, students, for each poem--each flight of imagination--that I read! I look forward to attending tomorrow's ceremony to cheer your talents and efforts.

Out of more than 600 SC student entries in the contest, offered for students grade 3 - 12, there are nine winners. 

Elementary (grades 3-5)
  • 1st Place - Sonia Baxter: "The Beach", 3rd grade, Round Top Elementary School
  • 2nd Place - Catie Coats: "My Grandma's Death", 5th grade, Oak Pointe Elementary School
  • 3rd Place - Michaela Grindstaff: "Up Main Street", 5th grade, Oak Pointe Elementary School
Middle (grades 6-8)
  • 1st Place - Nada Rahal: "Beauty", 6th grade, Alice Drive Middle School
  • 2nd Place - Charlotte Hughes: "The Cherry Blossom City", 8th grade, Heathwood Hall
  • 3rd Place - Michaela Lanier: "Destructional Peace", 7th grade, Blythewood Middle School
High (grades 9-12)
  • 1st Place - Skye Robertson: "Dreams", 12th grade, Fort Mill High School 
  • 2nd Place - Gillian Moses: "Flight", 9th grade, Clover High School
  • 3rd Place - April Williams: "Dreaming of Innocence", 11th grade, Fort Mill High School

Looking back at the March 25 PSSC Writers' Group workshop -- "Fishing for Poems, Part II"

Saturday, March 25
Poetry Society of SC workshop
Susan Laughter Meyers, instructor
10 a.m. - noon
Fishing for Poems, Part II
Charleston Library Society, 164 King St.
Charleston, SC
Free for PSSC/CLS members & CofC students; $15 for all others (PSSC membership $30; new memberships welcome)

Last Saturday was the second Poetry Society of SC (PSSC) Writers' Group workshop of the year, when we continued our exploration of "Fishing for Poems," generating new work. We began by each creating a word bank of nouns and verbs we might want to use in the day's writing. We then spent working with our class packet. For our first writing activity we wrote our own lines in-between the lines of a published poem, all of us using the same poem, "Though I've Never Been to Gettysburg, by Gabrielle Calverossi. We used her poem, which was tripled spaced to give us writing room, as ghost lines that we took off from by paying attention to sound, rhythms, and whatever else struck a core. Our intent was to make associative leaps, not necessarily to respond to the poem or even pay attention to it content.

We also wrote an erasure poem, either from our own earlier freewriting or from two pages of prose from a book called Weather Wisdom. An erasure poem is typically quite spare, with deliberate care spent on which single words to choose. We each circled only the words from the paragraphs in the Weather Wisdom excerpt that we wanted to cause to bump up against each other with surprise and freshness to create the poem. All the rest from the prose was "erased." No rearranging of words and no adding of new words. It's like choosing which stones to step on while crossing a wide creek.

Fourteen participants attended the workshop. I'm always grateful for the poets' input, as well as their writing and camaraderie.

The next PSSC W.G. workshop will be on Saturday, September 30. Same place, same time.

Looking back at the NCPS Sam Ragan Poetry Festival, March 18

March 18, 2017
Weymouth Center for the Arts & Humanities
Southern Pines, NC

Road trip! Up to the North Carolina Poetry Society program with friend and SC poet laureate Marjory Wentworth. Friday afternoon in the charming town of Southern Pines and dinner at Rhett's.

All day Saturday at beautiful Weymouth, featuring a morning reading by Peter Makuck--poet, writer, and founding editor of Tar River Poetry. Followed by
open mic and a box lunch.

Afternoon reading by Marjory. Loveliest of days!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Looking back: Press 53 Gathering of Poets -- March 4, 2017

On March 4, 2017, in Winston-Salem, NC, Press 53 held its Gathering of Poets, a much anticipated annual event planned and offered by publisher Kevin Watson. I was honored to be on the faculty this year, along with these talented poets:
  • Nickole Brown
  • Richard Garcia
  • Jessica Jacobs
  • Tom Lombardo
  • Seth Mickelson 
Each poet on the faculty offered an hour-and-a-half workshop twice, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. There were a variety of subjects, and participants were able to take a total of four workshops. Such a full day of poetry! My workshop was called "Song of the Imperative." Here's the approach we took in it:

“Be unalone. Big up / your chest,” says poet Christian Campbell in the drumbeat of his poem “Incantation.” “Try to Praise the Mutilated World,” says Adam Zagajewski in the quieter, softer music of his lines. What does a memorable poem of the imperative offer? Perhaps advice, instruction, a blessing, even a recipe—real or imagined. A rhythm of imperative verbs, always. Plenty of surprise. Syntax and image worthy of any good poem. This is the chance for you as poet to speak from the core, imaginatively and directly to the reader. Our agenda includes discussion and writing time to generate a poem, as well as a workshop packet of writing strategies, exemplary poems, and resources.

I was impressed by the creativity and talents of the workshop participants. Nothing like a room full of poets to write, talk, and inspire!

Looking back: Feb. 4: PSSC workshop -- Fishing for Poems

Looking back at a recent winter workshop:

PSSC Writers' Group Workshop:
Fishing for Poems
Sat., Feb. 4 
10 a.m. to noon
Charleston Library Society
164 King St., Charleston
Instructor, Susan Laughter Meyers
Free for PSSC members, CLS members,
and CofC students; $15 for all others.

In this workshop let’s cast for poems, somewhat like throwing out a fishing line in first one spot and then another, knowing that sometimes we catch a fish, sometimes we don't. We're notfixed on the catch as much as we're determined to sit back and enjoy the process. If we dedicate ourselves to this time of generating something new--if we allow ourselves plenty of opportunities to let our imaginations loose, to experiment without judging our work—by the end of the workshop, we’ll each have several poem starts or drafts to take home for revision, as well as new strategies for filling our poetry pail. 

Oct. 22, 2016: A day at the Pat Conroy Literary Festival

The Pat Conroy Literary Festival was as enchanting as I thought it would be. I was there for the day on a Saturday and felt the magic of the Festival as soon as I arrived in downtown Beaufort, SC. Pat Conroy's presence was felt by everyone there, as one program followed another. Besides his literary talents, it's his big heart, his generosity that was best remembered. I was honored to be a part of the readings from the anthology Found Anew, published by the University of South Carolina Press and edited by R. Mac Jones and Ray McManus.

It was one of those days that somehow feels just perfect. I hope I can attend again next year to feel some more of that magic.

Last fall's Poetry Society of SC Writers' Group workshop: Oct. 29

Last fall's Poetry Society of SC Writers' Group workshop:

Saturday, October 29
Poetry Society of SC workshop
Susan Laughter Meyers, instructor
10 a.m. - 12 noon
Charleston Library Society, 164 King St.
Charleston, SC
Mastering the Line:
Free for PSSC/CLS members & CofC students; $15 for all others
(PSSC membership, $25 annually; new memberships welcome)

How do you know where to begin and end the lines of your poems? What are some of the different aesthetics for line breaks? This workshop looked at how lineation affects a poem, how various poets have upheld the integrity of the line – whether it’s short, long, or a combination of the two. The workshop included writing activities and a resource packet. Participants were asked to bring a copy of 1-2 of in-progress poems.  

Ten of us met to work on lineation of poems, a subject that never gets old.

Recent anthologies I'm proud to be included in

Thank you to the editors of the following anthologies for including my work among that of so many poets and writers I admire:

Volume VII: North Carolina.
Eds.Jesse Graves, Paul Ruffin, William Wright
(Texas Review Press, 2014).


A Celebration of Ten Festivals.
Ed. Diana M. Donovan (Press 53, 2015).


FOUND ANEW: Poetry and Prose 
Inspired by the South Caroliniana Library 
Digital Collections.
Eds. R. Mac Jones and Ray McManus
(Univ. of South Carolina Press, 2015).


Through the Seasons in Images and Words
Photographer Anne Swift Malarich,
ed. Linda Ketron (CLASS, 2015)


Ed. Diane Lockward
(Terrapin Books, 2016).


Engagements with Gerard Manley Hopkins. 
Eds. Daniel Westover and William Wright
(Clemson Univ. Press, 2016).


THE CRAFTY POET: A Portable Workshop.
ed. Diane Lockward (Terrapin Books, 2016).


Nights of 1000 Candles. 
Photographer Anne Swift Malarich,
ed. Linda Ketron (CLASS, 2016).

Looking back at the Queens alumni weekend

I'm catching up on some past events, starting with the Queens University of Charlotte MFA program's alumni weekend last October 4 and 5. It was a fine opportunity for alumni and students currently enrolled in the MFA program to gather and swap writing tips and anecdotes, learn from one another, and just enjoy the tribe. Besides swapping ideas and stories, we had a journal swap.

I enjoyed being on a publishing panel as the one poet among prose writers, plus we poets held two sessions of our own. Poet and editor Tom Lombardo held a seminar on Putting a Poetry Book Together, and Asheville poet Pat Riviere-Seel led a session on Becoming a Better Poet: Tips & Totems.

Thanks to Shuly Cawood and her steering committee for a great weekend on campus!