All Meetings are from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m
(Usually the 4th Monday of each month, except April)
at Brentwood Branch Library
(Check back for updates)
Those poets interested in attending a meeting of this group to see if they would like to become members are invited to bring some poems on a meeting night, share poetry, learn something and make some friends.
Open read a-rounds & monthly workshop!
Join the Missouri Poets & Friends group on Facebook!
Missouri Poets and Friends meets monthly usually on the 4th Monday of each month except for April and December. April’s meeting is “Poetry in the Park,” a 5 hour picnic/poetry reading in a park setting, usually held on the last Sunday in April at Grants Beach Park in Springfield, MO. December’s meeting is the “Winter Banquet” when the results of the Poetry Contest are announced in great holiday style.
Missouri Poets & Friends was organized June 16, 1988, by Derlyne Gibson, an academic advisor at Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield, MO, and was affiliated with the National Federation of State Poetry Societies in 1989. She served as the first president and the group met in the homes of members. In November of 1988 the group moved to the Christ Episcopal Church Annex Building, then to the New Age Books & Gifts store, and finally, settled permanently at the Brentwood Library, a branch of the Springfield-Greene County Public Library.
From its beginning, Poets and Friends encouraged members to compose and present original poems, to bring non-poet friends and to present poetry from contemporary poets and historical favorites. The group sponsored its first public reading of poetry in July 1988 when Michael Burns gave a reading of his work at the Brentwood Library. In October of 1988, the organization had thirteen members and began publishing a newsletter which became the “Museletter” in the early 1990’s. P&F’s first anthology of member poetry was published in February of 1989. In May of 1990 there were nineteen members and by June of 1992, Poets and Friends had twenty-nine members.
Presidents and members have represented across-section of Springfield’s vibrant writing community. Early presidents after Derlyne Gibson, included Sharon Larson, local bookstore owner, and Earl Kessler, in 1990, for several terms. Two very well-known early presidents were James C Stone and Wilbur “Bill” Kiene. Jim Stone finalized the “Museletter,” organized contests, continued the anthology, and encouraged participation in the national poetry organization, the National Federation of State Poetry Societies. He expanded the scope of the group by accepting an auxiliary chapter in Bolivar, Second Tuesday. When he was killed in a violent accident, Missouri Poets and Friends, without his strong inspiration, was faced with the possibility of termination of the group.
Bill Kiene took over the presidency after Jim Stone’s death and under his leadership the group found new purpose and succeeded in renewing and growing. The contests, yearly anthology, and participation with NFSPS continued and attendance increased from an average of ten or fewer to a vibrant group of nearly thirty. The group conducted several poetry readings in the community.
At a monthly board meeting in 1998, the then secretary, Wanda Sue Parrott, after a close reading of the Poets and Friend’s constitution, started a discussion about the group’s purposes needing a broader platform. After several meetings, the board members proposed the organization of a state society with local auxiliary chapters. The group voted to revise the constitution and to approve new Articles of Organization that established the Missouri State Poetry Society, the MSPS. It was chartered as a non-profit corporation with the Secretary of State on November 1, 1998.
Under the new state organization, Poets and Friends of Springfield became the first local chapter with Bolivar’s Second Tuesday, and St. Peter’s Rhyme and Reason as the second and third local groups. All members who joined in 1998 or 1999 would be named charter members. MSPS began with forty-eight members.
In its over twenty year history, Springfield’s Poets and Friends has tried to maintain the early traditions of universal membership and the development of poetic skills in its members. The group has sponsored youth poetry slams and a youth section in its yearly contest to encourage poetic traditions among student populations. Meetings not only have open read a-rounds but present new poetry forms and techniques for members to try.
Recently, Poets and Friends has established a reciprocal relationship with the vibrant MO Poetry Slam Springfield in downtown Springfield MO with their lively monthly slam poetry show.