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Turquoise columns along a sidewalk in Chicago.

Poets & Patrons Critiquing Workshop: The Shape a Poem Makes

June 25, 2016
1:00-4:00 p.m.
Harold Washington Library, 400 S State Street, Room 6N (on the 3rd Floor)

Let's look at what happens when great care is given to sculpting the lines and shape of a poem. The shape a poem invites us to read it. We examine how the use of stanzas, indentations, and formal shaping can enhance the meaning and enjoyment of the poem. We look for meter to find out what the poem "wants": i.e. rhyme, blank verse, or free verse. We read poems aloud to find natural line breaks and consider where and if there should be stanzas, enjambments, free verse or forms such as sonnets or villanelles. Sometimes we try oddball methods such as reading the last verse first to give a new slant to it. Although the author has the final word, concrete simple suggestions on craft will be offered.

Out of the Neighborhood

I won't say that the earth moved
or rockets exploded
or that even fireworks studded the sky.

No, you are more like wandering from an old, accustomed neighborhood
of small square houses and patches of green

into vast spring meadows
redolent of hay and iris, graced
by the faint scent of newborn foals.

~ Mary Hanford



One November Morning Past Your Prime

You come to see
    you are not part
of any tribe or clan,

    walking a trapezoid 
not a circle or square.

Lone wolf, butterfly,
    solitary cloud, secret shaman,

keen resister of all GroupSpeak.
    You are not lonely:
Solitude is a rich uncle.

You kept the sacred promises
    you made before your prime,

required deep, reclusive silence,
    this stillness which propels you,
shrewd star that shines in shadows.

~ Christine Swanberg


Optional Workshop Assignment

You may send a maximum of two poems for critique. If possible, email them to wildamorris@ameritech.net with P & P in the subject line by June 6. Otherwise mail your poem(s) by June 4 to Wilda Morris, 499 Falcon Ridge Way, Bolingbrook IL 60440-2242. There is a fee of $5 per poem for members; $10 for non- members. The fee must be paid for each poem submitted, even if you do not attend the meeting because the poems are critiqued in advance (leader feedback will be mailed to you if you are unable to attend the meeting). Please pay at the meeting, if you attend. Otherwise, mail your check made out to Poets & Patrons. Membership dues of $20 can be paid at the same time. E- mail questions to Wilda. If you do not get a reply to an e- mailed poem, call Wilda at 630/739-2983 to be sure your poem was received.

If you miss the deadline, email to see if your poem(s) can still be submitted.

Workshop Leaders

Mary Hanford Bianchi, formerly Bruce, usually publishes under Mary Hanford. A retired English professor, she taught for 49 years, 29 of them at Monmouth College. She also taught in Cameroon, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, United Kingdom and Germany, and Russia. Mary has published three books: a poetry collection, Holding to the Light; a novel, Dr. Sally's Voodoo Man; and a memoir, Swimming in Villa Hugel. Her real love is poetry. Her poems have found homes in such journals as Askew, Bridges and Borders, and Third Wednesday.

Christine Swanberg’s books of poetry include The Alleluia Tree, Who Walks among the Trees with Charity, and Invisible String. Her poetry appears in numerous anthologies and journals. The 2008 Poet’s Market features an in-depth interview with her. She lives in Rockford, Illinois, where she has given many residencies in writing after a 35- year teaching career. She won the WomanSpirit award from Womanspace, where she served for many years on the KORONE board. Nominated for three Pushcart awards, Christine gives readings and workshops throughout the United States.


Introduction to Poets & Patrons

Poets & Patrons is a group of poets who encourage others to write and appreciate poetry. We meet in workshops four times a year and have started a series of meetings called Write! Chicago, where poets gather in a specific Chicago location and write afterwards.

Just a reminder to members: The fiscal year for Poets and Patrons is January 1-December 31, so it is time to pay your dues. Please send your check made out to Poets and Patrons to our treasurer, Beth Staas, at 1634 Barnsdale Rd. #105, La Grange Park, IL  60526. The membership form is available from the link above.

Looking to join us online?  Poets and Patrons is on Facebook; please like us if you want to stay current on our events.  We also have a blog at http://poetsandpatrons.blogspot.com/, and a website, of course, here at www.poetsandpatrons.net. 


Turquoise columns along a sidewalk in Chicago.

Each year, Poets & Patrons hosts four workshops, led by established poets, editors, and teachers from Illinois and surrounding states. The workshops are designed to increase skill in writing both traditional and non-traditional poetry. Unless otherwise noted, the workshops will be in room 6-N on the third floor of the Harold Washington Library, 400 S. State Street, Chicago, Illinois. Workshop participants are invited to join us for an optional lunch at the Panera at 501 State Street before each workshop in order to enjoy each others' company and talk about poetry generally. Members of Poets & Patrons who have published books are invited to display them for sale at any of our workshops and/or at the reading of the winning poems from the Chicagoland Poetry Contest.

Future Workshops

Write! Chicago Workshop

Please join us on Saturday, July 16, at the Willowbrook Wildlife Center.  We will meet at the Center at 10:30 a.m., disperse to look at the varied nature and wildlife, then convene to write poetry.  There is so much to do there; surely each of us can find something to write about!  Below is some information about the Wildlife Center.  If you are interested in attending, please e-mail Caroline Johnson at twinkscat@aol.com by July 12.  For those who need public transportation, there may be a possibility of picking people up at the Metra train station in Lisle or Downers Grove.  Let Caroline know in your e-mail if you might need this.
Willowbrook Wildlife Center is a wildlife rehabilitation facility that provides care and medical treatment for injured and orphaned animals that are native to northeastern Illinois. As an education center, it serves as a resource for people who want to learn more about the natural world and how to live harmoniously with diverse, healthy wildlife populations.
The center opened in 1952 as Willowbrook Wildlife Haven, a rehabilitation center and refuge operated by individuals who were concerned about the welfare of wild animals. In 1956 the owner deeded Willowbrook Forest Preserve to the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, which added an education and treatment center and an outdoor exhibit area in 1981. In 1993 after over 40 years of operation, the facility was renamed Willowbrook Wildlife Center.
Willowbrook is a 50-acre preserve in Glen Ellyn and is open to the public 7 days a week from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Permanently disabled eagles, songbirds, owls, raccoons, and foxes are just a few of the 80 native Illinois animals on display there.
In the Visitor Center are hands on activities and making animal tracks for the younger children. You can also find the reception desk, washroom facilities and our Gift Shop. The remainder of the Visitor Center hosts a variety of smaller animals that through behavioral or physical disabilities are unable to be released.  There are also two large windows that open into the kitchen where food is prepared for all of the animals and into the nursery where babies are kept.
Looking in the nursery you can see a white board in the back of the room listing all the current patients. Willowbrook participates in a breeding program for the Illinois State Endangered Blanding’s Turtle so you may see quite a high number listed on the board for them. If you’re really lucky it may be feeding time and you can see one of the staff members or volunteers performing this task.
Right next to the nursery is the kitchen. Here food is prepared for upwards of 200 or more animals every day (during the busy times). Many animals get “chow”. Rabbit chow, duck chow, or other dried pellet type of foods that are formulated with their special diets in mind. The refrigerators contain perishables like fruits, vegetables and meat products such as BOP. BOP is short for Bird Of Prey. It’s a combination of meat products similar to what their natural diet would contain. The screech owls indoors and the hawks, eagles, owls and vultures outside get this as part of their diet.
The exhibit room features several native songbirds, reptiles, amphibians, and small mammals and raptors with permanent disabilities that prevent them from being released. Look for the signs on each enclosure for species and disability information.
Nature Trail
At about 40 acres, “The Back 40″, consists of a nature trail with forest, savannah, prairie and wetland eco-systems. A half-mile outer loop and a shorter inner loop trail provides opportunity to see a range of plants and animals in their natural habitat. Almost every month Willowbrook has a Naturalist led walk on this trail. The Naturalist will help visitors to recognize birds by their calls and to identify many of the plants and animals.
Each season the flowers blooming and the signs of animals change. During winter and early spring many animals are not readily visible however droppings and tracks in the snow or mud are sure signs that they’re around. As plants start blooming migrant birds return and a hibernating animals wake up. By summer many baby animals have been born and parents are busy on the preserve gathering food for them. At the pond the dragonflies are out catching mosquitoes and other small insects.
Over the course of summer and early fall dozens of different plants are blooming and attracting insects. As the temperature starts to drop watch the trees for their Fall color show. And while you’re head is looking up at the trees, keep an eye out for migrating birds. Many birds pass through (or over) the preserve on their way to their winter feeding grounds.
Willowbrook is home to two sandhill cranes. These birds were born in captivity and became too accustomed to human care to return to the wild. Their enclosed wetland-bird habitat on the Nature Trail features a shelter and a shallow pond where the cranes can forage and wade and serves as an educational component of the trail.
Willowbrook Wildlife Center
525 S. Park Boulevard
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137-6932




Chicagoland Poetry Contest


The Chicagoland Poetry Contest is one of the longest-running literary traditions in Chicago. This competition allows both members, and non-members to compete in various categories. First, second, and third place contest winners will receive their awards by mail this year. A $10.00 entry fee is required of all entrants. Poetry editors and teachers from across the nation are selected each year to judge all entrants anonymously. Winners are posted at the bottom of the page.

The Helen Schaible International Sonnet Contest

2011 Contest Winners
2012 Contest Winners

2013 Contest Winners
2014 Contest Winners
2015 Contest Winners



Book Publications by Members

We are pleased to provide a partial listing of book publications by our Members. We have also tried to indicate which books are still available and where you can obtain a copy. We hope to continually expand and promote this list as Members contact us with additional information. Click on the above link to learn more.


Our members are a diverse group, comprised of writers from widely varying backgrounds and ages. What unites us is a deep appreciation for poetry. In order to facilitate an open and non-exclusive environment, we keep our membership fees at a very reasonable level.

Membership entitles poets to hone their skills through interaction with like-minded people in both formal and informal sessions, including four workshops per year, notice of the annual Chicagoland Poetry Contest.

For further information, please contact us by sending a request for Membership to Beth Staas, Beth@staas.com. If you would like to join us, please fill out the following form: Membership Form. The cost of membership for 2016 is $20.

A Brief History


Poets & Patrons evolved from common desire to promote a meeting ground for poets and poet enthusiasts in the Chicago area. The Midwest Writers Conference previously filled the need with meetings and contests, but folded in the mid 1940s. Another poetry group, Poets Club of Chicago, was founded in 1936 by a group of high school teachers. Admission to Poets Club was by invitation and submission of poets' work. Members paid modest fees, held workshops and discussion sessions and shared a mutual love of poetry. At one point, Poets Club president Isabelle Gillespie Young, proposed a new club that would be open to all.

By 1954, Poets & Patrons was established. It was set up as a non-profit outreach group for poets who wished to receive professional criticism, with four workshops a year, held on the fourth Saturday in February, April, June and August. In 1956, Poets & Patrons created a Chicagoland Poetry Contest, open to all in the area. At one point there were 22 categories with awards and cash prizes.

Finding suitable meeting places was always a challenge for the group - libraries, a bank, the Cultural Center, Carson, Pirie, Scott - were discovered. Among the early meeting rooms was an unforgettable one offered by one of the group's founders, Anne Nolan. In the early 1950s, she offered space in the inner offices of her family's business, the Nolan Boiler and Tank Service. Members dubbed the group the Poetry Forge and Anne was the registered agent for 31 years. She was a highly skilled poet, as were her husband Clifford and her three sons. Her death in October 2006 greatly saddened Poets & Patrons members.

Sincere thanks and gratitude go to all members who have helped the group survive and flourish since 1954. The Court of awards held in 2006 marked the 50th celebration of The Chicagoland Poetry Contest. This event has become so important to this area's finest poets.


In Memoriam


In Memoriam

Nancy Carrigan was a Chicago area artist and poet. She saw a deep relationship between the two. In the last decades she wrote, Notes on an Ancient Chinese Flute, which won a grand prize in the Dancing Poetry Competition in San Francisco. The Prize resulted in her going to China as a guest of the Chinese government. In the 80s she merged her interest in art with stage sets and costumes for several ballet troops and was also involved in the Fermi Arts Program.
Glenna Rose (Preston) Holloway (7 Feb 1928-4 Sep 2015), whose husband Robert died in 1997 was a well-known Chicago-area poet, beloved by many. She was the founder of the Illinois State Poetry Society and her work was widely published, even though she had spent her first career in interior design. In addition to poetry, she was a lapidary artist, silversmith, and painter. She also served as Illinois Senior Poet Laureate three times and won the Pushcart Prize (2001), The Milton Doorman award, the Heart Crane Memorial, an Illinois Art’s Council Fellowship (2005), Grand Prize, Founders Award, National Federation of State Poetry Societies (2006), the National League of American Pen Women Biennial (2006). She has one book, Never Far from Water: And Other Love Stories (2009). Her free-lance writing appeared in Chicago newspapers and many magazines.

Margarete Cantrall (8 Apr 1921-19 Oct 2009) was born in Aurora, IL, and never lived so far from Chicago that she couldn't get there to see a play. She graduated from Northern Illinois University (B.A.) and the University of Illinois (M.A.). During the 1941-42 school year, she was state champion in extemporaneous speaking and debate. She taught English and American literature at Carroll College; University High School,Urbana, IL; and Northwestern Military and Naval Academy, Walworth, WS. For 27 years, she taught at North High School in Downers Grove, IL, where she chaired the English Department for 12 years and served two years as Assistant Principal. She designed the gifted program for the school, and sponsored a book club and student literary magazine. From 1987-2006, after her "retirement," she taught in the Older Adults Institute of the College of DuPage. Maggie, as her friends called her, held leadership positions in the Illinois State Poetry Society, Poets & Patrons of Chicago, the Jane Austen Society, American Association of University Women, Delta Kappa Gamma, and the Residents Council of Fairview Baptist Home. 

Gertrude Rubin had Chicago roots. She studied at Northeastern Illinois University and received her MFA from the Writers' Program, University of Illinois at Chicago in 1978. She belonged to Women Mobilized for Change in the 1970s, was an activist, and wrote two poetry books:   The Passover Poems, and A Beating of Wings. She belonged to the Poets' Club of Chicago and was president of Poets and Patrons. She had four of her poems on "Dial-A-Poem, Chicago" and was published in a number of anthologies, including the Anthology of Magazine Verse, 1985 and in many journals. In 1986, she won the Grand Prize in the Indiana State Poetry Contest, as well as many other awards. Gert helped organize group readings at Guild, Rizzoli's Bookstore, the Chicago Public Library Cultural Center, and the Chicago Historical Bookworks in Evanston. She performed her own readings in a number of settings. For at least two years, she did a series of readings at local nursing homes and senior citizen centers. For five years, she served as program convenor for disabled adults at the Mayer Kaplan Community Center.

Patricia Gangas (March 19, 1939-January 25, 2011) was a member of the Poets Club of Chicago and was the president of Poets and Patrons also in Chicago for nine years. She had three books of poetry published: All These Years, The Final Approach, These Places of Light. Her children's book Cats Everywhere was published in 2003. She authored a manuscript of mystical poetry called Gathering God, and a memoir titled How I Scared Cancer to Death: with God's help, neither of which has yet been published. Her hobbies were reading, attending college classes and playing Texas Hold'em. She was the wife of Thomas and mother of Peter and Valerie.


Officers and board members are listed below:


Vice President
Contest Chair
Workshop Chair
Caroline Johnson
Linda Wallin
Barbara Eaton
Wilda Morris
Linda Wallin
Beth Staas

Links to other organizations

Chicago Poetry Blog

Haiku Society of America

Illinois State Poetry Society

Jupiter Blog

Naperville Writers' Group

Wallin's Wave

Wilda Morris' Poetry Challenge

Whisper From the Heart

The 2015 Chicagoland Poetry Contest Award Winners


The 2014 Chicagoland Poetry Contest Award Winners

The 2013 Chicagoland Poetry Contest Award Winners

The 2012 Chicagoland Poetry Contest Award Winners

 The 2011 Chicagoland Poetry Contest Award Winners

 The 2010 Chicagoland Poetry Contest Award Winners

The 2009 Chicagoland Poetry Contest Award Winners
The 2008 Chicagoland Poetry Contest Award Winners
The 2007 Chicagoland Poetry Contest Award Winners
The 2006 Chicagoland Poetry Contest Award Winners

The 2005 Chicagoland Poetry Contest Award Winners


The 2004 Chicagoland Poetry Contest Award Winners

Last updated 1/5/16.

Comments and questions on this website: lwallin at dwna.net