Celebrating 100 years of Poetry in Poetry, Texas

By Patty Hullett
For the Empire-Tribune

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 view from across Poetry Hall, where the 100th celebration Of the Poetry Society of Texas was held in June in Poetry, Texas.

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.

Entry gate at the Springs Event Venue Center in Poetry, Texas.
The outside view of the Springs Event And Venue Center In Poetry, Texas, where the Poetry Society of Texas held its 100th celebration on June 27.
The event venue features gorgeous scenery in Poetry, Texas.
The outside courtyard and bridge at the Springs Event And Venue Center in Poetry, Texas.

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).

Some of the poets sign In at the welcome table.

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.

JDarrell Kirkley of Plano, emcee for the event and one of the directors of the Poetry Society of Texas, is shown at the podium during the 100th anniversary event.

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. 

Poets and their guests enjoyed a wonderful barbecue catered lunch at the event celebration June 27.
The mayor of the newly incorporated city of Poetry, Texas, welcomes and addresses the crowd on June 27.

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 texaspoet53@hotmail.com. 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 nawalasky@gmail.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.