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Since 1932 the North Carolina Poetry Society has existed as an all-volunteer organization especially for poets and friends of poetry. We now have approximately 370 members from North Carolina — and numerous locations beyond.
The Poetry Society holds regular meetings three times a year in Southern Pines, North Carolina, at the Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities. Our meeting dates are usually the third Saturdays of January, May, and September, when we gather for a day of poetry and programs from 9:30 a.m. until about 3:30 p.m.
We also sponsor the annual Sam Ragan Poetry Festival at Weymouth, now held during the month of March. Participants often wear bow ties and/or straw hats in memory of Sam Ragan, North Carolina Poet Laureate from 1982 to 1996.
At our meetings we enjoy a variety of programs, including readings, panels, workshops, and special presentations — all seeking to recognize a diversity of poets. Meetings are free and open to any interested persons.
In addition to our meetings, each year the Poetry Society provides many other top-notch programs and offerings:
- Annual contests for adults and students, which offer cash prizes and award certificates. Contest awards are presented at the May meeting. Most of the adult contests are free to members; there is a nominal charge for others.
- The annual Poet Laureate Award, judged by the state’s poet laureate. Reduced submission fee for members.
- Yearly publication of Pinesong Awards (formerly Award Winning Poems), providing winners deserved recognition. Members receive a free copy.
- Workshops across the state, offering poets an opportunity to gather for instruction, camaraderie, and networking. Reduced registration fee for members.
- A newsletter, published three times a year, to keep members informed about issues under discussion, upcoming contests and workshops, and other poetry-related news and opportunities.
- The annual Brockman-Campbell Book Award, recognizing the best book published by a North Carolina poet. This award is presented at the September meeting. The judges have included, among others, Mary Oliver, William Stafford, Maxine Kumin, and Billy Collins. No submission fee for members.
In addition, in recent years we have grown as an organization and expanded our reach:
- In fall 1999 our anthology of 20th century North Carolina poetry, Word and Witness, was published by Carolina Academic Press. Featuring poems by 134 poets, this long-awaited publication was celebrated with statewide readings and performances by the Touring Theatre Ensemble of North Carolina.
- This web site, completely redesigned in 2010 by NCPS webmaster Cari Grindem-Corbett, builds upon the first NCPS website created in 1998 by Ray Dotson and maintained by Earl Huband. It provides poets with frequently updated news and resources of the Poetry Society — and the world of poetry in general.
- In January 2003, to increase value to our members throughout North Carolina, the NCPS Board voted to host a meeting each year in the east and west of the state. Since then, we have met annually at Barton College in Wilson in April. We also met for several years at Mars Hill College in Mars Hill in October. Please check out our meetings on the NCPS Calendar and join us when we come your way as well as at Weymouth in Southern Pines.
- Also in 2003, the NCPS Board approved the establishment of the Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet Series, where three distinguished North Carolina poets are selected annually to mentor student poets in the eastern, central, and western regions of the state. Now in its 7th year, this program is thriving as a significant expansion of NCPS outreach.
We invite you to join our organization. Just click on our Membership Application, send in your completed application and fee, and enjoy the benefits of an organization that celebrates poets and poetry in all these many ways.
The North Carolina Poetry Society is closely affiliated with other arts organizations in North Carolina, including statewide organizations such as Arts North Carolina, the North Carolina Writers’ Network, the North Carolina Haiku Society, and the Poetry Council of North Carolina. We encourage you to support them as well since their efforts are in line with our mission to promote the reading and writing of poetry.