Celebrating 100 years of Poetry in Poetry, Texas
The Poetry Society of Texas' 100 Anniversary Celebration was held Sunday, June 27, in Poetry, Texas. What better way to celebrate its 100th anniversary than to gather poets from all across the state to share their original works in the newly incorporated city, just north of Terrell!
The Poetry Society is deeply connected to the Stephenville area. One of its original founding members, Jewel Wurtzbaugh, was a Stephenville native. She was a legendary English professor and poet at Oklahoma State University in Norman, Oklahoma, for many years in the early 1900s.
This non-profit organization was founded Nov. 5, 1921, and their charter was issued by the state of Texas on Jan. 25, 1922.
The new venue for the celebration was The Springs Event and Venue Center, located in the gorgeous backwoods of Poetry – complete with a natural spring and waterfall, and all of it set back in a shaded wealth of trees, bushes, and flowers native to this part of East Texas. The group gathered inside in a room called “Poetry Hall”.
The society's purpose
According to PST’s bulletin publication, “The purpose of the Society shall be to secure fuller public recognition of the art of poetry, to encourage the writing of poetry by Texans, and to kindle a finer and more intelligent appreciation of poetry, especially the work of living poets who interpret the spirit and heritage of Texas.”
For more information about the group of writers, visit the website www.poetrysocietyoftexas.org. The Society also maintains a Facebook page. Search: Poetry Society of Texas – for Members at https://www.facebook.com/groups
The current Board Members of the Poetry Society of Texas include:
Irene Robertson, president
Richard Weatherly, vice president
Barbara Blanks, assistant treasurer and recording secretary
Betty Roberts, corresponding secretary
JDarell Kirkley, director
Carol Thompson, director
Valerie Martin Bailey, director
The Poetry Society of Texas has chapters in cities and counties across the state, including High-Plains Chapter (Amarillo), Heart of Texas (Waco), Mockingbird Chapter (McKinney), Pegasus Poetry Association (Dallas), Permian Basin Poetry Society (Midland - Odessa), Poetry of Johnson County, Poets Northwest (Houston), Poets of Tarrant County (Fort Worth), Rusk County Poetry Society (Henderson), San Antonio Poets' Association (San Antonio and surrounding areas), Tyler Rose Garden Poetry Society (Tyler) and Wichita Falls Poetry Society (Wichita Falls).
Anniversary day’s events
JDarrell Kirkley opened the meeting at 10 a.m. June 27 by welcoming and greeting everyone in attendance, which was approximately 80 poets. President Irene Robertson then welcomed the poets and their guests, sharing background information about the society's 100th Celebration.
Next, past presidents and board members were introduced, and the announcement was made concerning their three new board members. Past officials and members shared some of their own personal poetry, followed by several current member poets reading their poetry to the audience.
Time was allotted for several door prizes that were given away throughout the day, and poetry books were offered by some of the attending poets during their breaks during the meeting.
A group poetry game was played: Five to six poets per table joined to create collectively a humorous poem to share with the audience, with a 15-minute time limit. At noon, a barbecue lunch was provided by the society.
After the meal, the new and first-ever mayor of the city of Poetry, Tara Senkavech, addressed the crowd and shared the history of Poetry, Texas. Past President Budd Powel Mahan spoke about the interesting history of the society over the years.
Additional poets then read some of their creative works. The meeting and celebration was officially closed at 5 p.m.
Other events, contests throughout the year
Annual contests with cash prizes in excess of $5,000 are sponsored by the society. These are open only to active members except where otherwise stated. Contest chair Lynn Roberts Grice may be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also annually, the society sponsors “Poetry in Schools” contests, which are open to any
student in a Texas school, elementary through high school levels. A student does not need to be a member of the society to enter these contests. For further information, contact the Chairman Nancy DeHonores by email at email@example.com.
The Poetry Society of Texas meets in Dallas at 2:30 p.m. on the second Saturday of each month, September through May at the Preston Royal Library, 5626 Royal Lane (one block west of Dallas North Tollway), with the exception of November, when the Annual Awards Banquet is held at a Dallas hotel. The Summer Conference convenes in a different area of the state each July.
At each regular meeting, business is transacted and a program, usually by a writer or critic of distinction, is presented. Poems by members are awarded cash prizes by a critic judge, and other poems selected by the critic judge are read anonymously, with book award prizes are chosen by secret ballot.
Visitors are always welcome to attend any of these meetings.
The Poetry Society of Texas is a member of the National Federation of State Poetry Societies, Inc. Members are eligible to compete for the federation’s awards and to participate in its activities. Over the Texas group's history, six of its members have served in the national organization as president over the years, including Marvin David Winsett, Jack E. Murphy, Catherine Case Lubbe, Pat Stodghill, Budd Powel Mahan and Nancy Baas.