Mission StatementNew Mexico State Poetry Society (NMSPS) is a poetry organization within the state of New Mexico affiliated with the National Federation of State Poetry Societies, Inc. It is a nonprofit society under Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Its mission is to foster the appreciation and creation of poetry throughout the State of New Mexico and elsewhere.
The Society recognizes the importance of poetry to cultural welfare and is dedicated to asserting this importance by its support. The purposes of the Society are exclusively literary and educational. The NMSPS is nonpartisan; as an organization it will not espouse particular religious, social, or political causes, although it will impose no restrictions on its members' individual rights to free speech. The NMSPS will not participate in political campaigns or attempt to influence legislation. It may, however, provide New Mexico governmental branches with information that bears directly on the Society's mission.
HistoryThe New Mexico State Poetry Society (NMSPS) was founded on March 19, 1969, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, by the nationally known poet Alice Briley. Briley was founder and editor of the poetry magazine Encore. At her suggestion, the National Federation of State Poetry Societies (NFSPS) adopted the same title for its annual anthology of prizewinning poems. Briley edited Strophes, the NFSPS newsletter, for many years, and the 1976 and 1986 editions of the Encore anthology. She served as the second President of the State organization and later as President of the National Federation.
NMSPS was notified in May 1969 by then NFSPS President Dr. Hans Juergensen that it had been designated the official state affiliate of the Federation. In October 1969, poets from across the state met in Albuquerque, elected the Society's officers, and adopted a Constitution. They decided to hold meetings on the second Saturday of the month, September through April, from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Manzano del Sol Good Samaritan Village, 5201 Roma Avenue NE in Albuquerque. As of 2012, the Albuquerque chapter is still meeting at the same time and place. The Society was incorporated in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on December 7, 1976.
NMSPS Presidents (listed in order of service) have been Dr. Peter Dechert, Alice Briley, Jeanne Bonnette, Joe Shaffer, Ruth Roberts, Latayne Scott, Laverne Rison, Elizabeth Lackmann, Beverly Merrick, Sue Tullos, Ginger Chavez, Lula Daudet, Glen Kappy, Victor Brenton, Jim Applegate, Jeanette Oestermeyer, Doris Jacobs-Covington, George Forrest, and Bonnie Rucobo. Shirley Blackwell was elected to the post in May 2011.
NMSPS encourages the writing, understanding, and appreciation of poetry through the use of workshops, seminars, round-robin readings, special speakers, and contests. It supports students entering the NFSPS Manningham Trust Student Poetry Awards. NMSPS-sponsored students awarded prizes and honorable mentions include Nils Fullerton (1st place for Trophy Case in 1984), Aleasha Decker (4th place for Once in 1999), and Deyanira Nunez (3rd HM for her poem How Far We've Come in 2011); all three students were from Albuquerque.
The Society has published five anthologies that reflect New Mexico historically, culturally, and artistically. They are: Turquoise Land (1974), edited by Alice Briley, Dr. T. M. Pearce, and Jeanne Bonnette; Sandscript (1976), edited by Alice Briley, Jeanne Bonnette, and Dr. Peter Dechert; Earth Chant (1989), edited by Laverne Rison, Sharon Rogers, and Latayne Scott; Compass Points (2002), edited by Stephanie Padilla; and Along the Rio Grande, Poetry from New Mexico (2009), edited by Jeanne Shannon, Deborah Barba Eagan, and Karin Bradberry.
In June 1981, NMSPS hosted the NFSPS Annual Convention at the Hilton Hotel in Albuquerque. Many conventioneers enjoyed a tour of Acoma Pueblo, the oldest continuously inhabited community in the Southwest. The Society will once again host the Annual Convention in June 2013. The event will be held at Hotel Albuquerque and the pre-convention tour will again be to Acoma.
The NMSPS unanimously ratified a substantially revised Constitution on April 9, 2011. The 1969 Constitution and the 2011 revision can be found in the Archives section of this website. The Society also approved three Amendments to the Constitution in November 2011 that (1) designated youth members as those who are 18 or younger, (2) clarified what constituted a Board quorum, and (3) set the date for the Annual Meeting and State Convention to be "as near as is practical to April 9."
Geographic Area ServedThe aim of the NMSPS is to reach all corners of New Mexico. As of mid-2012, NMSPS has chartered eight chapters. Listed in order of seniority, they are: the Albuquerque Chapter, High Prairie Poets (Roswell), Rio Grande Valencia Poets (Belen/Los Lunas area), Rio Abajo Poets (Socorro area), Walking Rain Chapter (Taos), Bosque Poets (Corrales/Rio Rancho), Santa Fe Poetry Trails, and Turtleback Mountain Poets (Truth or Consequences area). A chapter is forming in the Las Cruces/Mesilla area.
Members may choose the chapter with which they want to affiliate, regardless of its location, or they may choose to remain members-at-large. Any member may attend any chapter's meetings. Poets outside the State of New Mexico may join NMSPS, even if they are already members of another Federation affiliate.
Primary Activities of the NMSPSMost NMSPS chapters convene monthly, though some do not meet during the summer. Each chapter chooses its own format and activities. These activities often include workshops, "warm-up" writing exercises, round-robin readings of poems written by members or other poets. Chapters also organize poetry events for children and judge local student poetry contests. The Albuquerque Chapter sponsors the Children's Poetry Project, in which members visit elementary schools (usually during National Poetry Month) to teach children to write poetry.
On April 28, 2012, the NMSPS held its first all-day Annual Meeting and State Convention in Albuquerque. The convention kicked off with the annual business meeting, followed by lunch and an afternoon of structured workshops held in classroom settings, mini-workshops and tutorials held in an informal Poets' Cafe, and a bookstore where attendees could sell their books. Dog Star, a quartet of members who are also musicians, played pre-dinner music.
The Society then held its first Awards Banquet at which President Shirley Blackwell presented two awards: the NMSPS Mission Award, given to that member whose actions most exemplify the Society's mission. It was awarded to Stewart Warren, who envisioned and then founded the Albuquerque Poet Laureate Program. She also presented the first Patron of Poetry Award to Paul White who, although not himself a poet, organized and hosted monthly gatherings of poets in his home for several years and was a prime mover in establishing the Santa Fe Poetry Trails chapter. After the Banquet, attendees participated in open readings led off by 8-year-old member Faith Pearson and honored guests Hakim Bellamy, Albuquerque's first Poet Laureate, and Valerie Martinez, who was Santa Fe Poet Laureate during 2008-10.
History of Individual NMSPS Chapters(excluding the Albuquerque Chapter, whose history is outlined above)
The High Prairie Poets (HPP) of Roswell began in a poetry writing class taught by Jeanette Oestermeyer at the Roswell Adult and Senior Center. In that class were Jim Applegate and several other poets who decided to form a poetry group and tried to contact NMSPS but received no reply. When they were invited in 1996 to form a chapter of the Pennsylvania Poetry Society, they did so. A few months later, the NMSPS leadership, including Victor Benton and Joe Shaffer, asked the group to become a chapter of NMSPS. Early chairpersons of the group were Jeanette Oestermeyer, Mr. Lynn Baldwin, and (while Jim Applegate held the State Presidency) Oestermeyer again. Ann Applegarth served from May 2004 until May 2012, when Chuck Russell was elected as chair. Following Jim Applegate's presidency of the NMSPS, Jeanette Oestermeyer served in that post. As of 2012, Jim Applegate is the only remaining founding member of the High Prairie Poets still residing in New Mexico.
Since 2004 the chapter has partnered with Eastern New Mexico University to run an annual Student Poetry Competition that regularly receives several hundred entries. The 2012 contest had over 400 entries, and 170 people attended the awards ceremony. Students receive prizes and publication.
The HPP meets on the third Saturday of every month from September through April at 2:00 p.m. at the Roswell Museum and Arts Center in Roswell.
Rio Grande Valencia Poets
What was to become the Rio Grande Valencia (RGV) Poets chapter of the NMSPS began in October 2005, when Belen resident and then NMSPS First Vice President George Forrest organized friends for monthly poetry readings at the Vista Del Rio clubhouse in Rio Communities. In December 2005, the group was officially constituted as a new Chapter. Forrest chaired the group until January 2007, before going on to serve as NMSPS President from 2007 to 2009. The charter members of the Valencia County group were George Forrest, Nancy Faust, Kuan Tikkun, Joyce Chalmers, Hildegunde Steele, Kitty Todorovich, and Shirley Blackwell.
In its first year, the RGV chapter held three open microphone and public poetry readings and doubled its membership. In August 2007, then RGV Poets Chair Shirley Blackwell began writing a poetry column for the Valencia County News Bulletin to publicize the chapter and promote poetry locally. The column ran monthly for three years and helped the group grow to 28 poets by 2008.
The RGV Poets chapter has consistently sought to encourage young poets. It collaborated with poetry writing students at the University of New Mexico/Valencia Campus on several joint literary events. RGV Poets have been guest speakers/instructors in UNM/VC poetry classes and have enrolled in the classes themselves to sharpen skills, interact with younger poets, and sometimes just to provide enough sign-ups to ensure this liberal arts elective would survive in a community college geared toward technology. In 2006, RGV Poets set up a scholarship to fund student memberships in NMSPS for any young poet who cannot afford the dues.
Chairpersons of the RGV Poets, in chronological order have been George Forrest, Shirley Blackwell, Annmarie Pearson, and Bernadette Perez (elected in February 2012).In the early years, the group tried out several meeting times and places before settling on the first Saturday of each month. The RGV Poets meet monthly at 1:00 p.m. at the Belen Public Library.
Rio Abajo Poets
Chair Barbara DuBois states that the story of the inception of the Rio Abajo Poets chapter of Socorro is "very simple." She joined the NMSPS after the High Prairie Poets invited her to read at their meeting in February 2008. Soon thereafter, NMSPS President George Forrest suggested to the Socorro resident that she form a chapter in her own town, which she did in October 2008.
The Rio Abajo Poets have teamed up several times with the RGV Poets in neighboring Valencia County for events in Socorro or midway between the two chapters' meeting places.
For several years, the Rio Abajo chapter met in the library at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro at 7:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday of every month. In 2012, they accepted the invitation of the proprietor of Old Town Bistro to meet at his restaurant on Socorro's historic Old Plaza. They changed locations, but still meet at the same day and time.
Walking Rain Chapter
The charter meeting of the Walking Rain (Taos) chapter of NMSPS was held at the Taos home of NMSPS member Andrea Watson on August 19, 2011. Watson was a member of the Albuquerque chapter when she spoke with NMSPS President Shirley Blackwell in May of 2011 about forming a Taos group. Watson spread the word among her poet friends, and on August 19 they gathered for a luncheon at her casita. George Forrest and Shirley Blackwell attended that event and spoke to the poets about the Society. Those present filled out applications for membership and paid dues as a group.
The members of the Walking Rain chapter who participated that day were Andrea Watson (elected chairperson), Leslie Ullman, Judith Thompson, Dora McQuaid, and Veronica Golos; however, Judith Rane,and Carol-la Sonham Dorje joined so soon after that they are also considered charter members.
The Walking Rain chapter does not have a regular meeting time, as many of its members travel and /or live part-time in other states. However, the group stays in touch electronically and meets when enough members are in town.
The Bosque Poets (Corrales/Rio Rancho area) chartered their chapter on September 13, 2011, when Albuquerque chapter member Susan Paquet signed up her husband, Andy Paquet, and poets Leon Wiskup, Linda Wolcott, Jo Anne Roche, and Michael Roche as members. Shortly thereafter, Estelle Kramer and John Ashbaugh joined the group.
Only a few months old, the Bosque Poets formed a partnership with the Friends of the Corrales Library to sponsor young poets for the 2012 Manningham Trust Student Poetry Contest. They hope to spearhead that effort in the future.
The group meets on third Wednesdays, 1:00- 3:00 p.m. at the Corrales Community Library on La Entrada, just off Corrales' main street.
The Santa Fe Poetry Trails chapter had its beginnings when Project Leader for New Members Princess Ifebube Achusim (yes, a true princess in her native Kenya) contacted Paul White, a patron of the arts who had for years hosted a poetry gathering in his home in Chupadero, a few miles from Santa Fe. Princess Ife and Shirley Blackwell attended one of those potluck gatherings in August 2011 and spoke to other guests about the NMSPS. There were not enough members that night to start a new chapter, but on September 17, 2011, at another Poetry at Paul's, a group of interested poets arrived before the scheduled readings and held a charter meeting. The charter members were Paul White, James and Elizabeth Raby, Gary Worth Moody, Kathy French, Linda Whittenberg, Debbi Brody, and Deborah Rasa. The group elected James Raby as chairperson. For several years, Raby had been leading monthly poetry readings that drew crowds to Tribes, a Santa Fe restaurant/coffee shop. After his election, he began to recruit NMSPS members from the Tribes group and the chapter rapidly grew to 25 members. The gatherings became too large for Tribes, and so the group, about half of them NMSPS members, began meeting for open microphone readings at 6:30 p.m. on first Mondays at Lucky Bean Cafe near the railyard in Santa Fe. The name of the chapter was suggested by Elizabeth Raby, Jim's wife, whom he calls "the real poet" in the family.
The Turtleback Mountain Poets of Sierra County (whose largest town is Truth or Consequences) formed in T or C on March 6, 2012 with charter members Helen Bezansky (a lifetime member of NMSPS), Carol Borsello, Stan Thompson, Terry Blanchard, and Sharon Hoefflin. The group elected Carol Borsello as chairperson. Borsello had just taken over moderating the monthly meeting of poets at the Black Cat Books and Coffee shop in T or C from Terry Blanchard, who had led the group meetings for several years prior. The chapter took a while to decide on a name. The initial choice of "Poets of T or C" did not fit, as many potential members will be coming from other communities in the area. The name they arrived at is taken from a local landmark, Turtleback Mountain, just south of T or C. At present, the group has not chosen a regular time for chapter meetings because they want to gain more members before making the decision.