Saturday, June 25, 2016

Columbus Foundation Grant Funding Continues for OPA

The OPA team is excited to report that for a fifth consecutive year, OPA has been awarded a grant from The Columbus Foundation (TCF) through its Community Arts Fund. This year’s award totals $1,826, which exceeds expectations by the OPA officers.

"Once again The Columbus Foundations has acknowledged the value of OPA to poets and artists throughout Ohio," said OPA President Chuck Salmons. "The Community Arts Fund has provided OPA with sustaining funds to help cover administrative costs so that our members’ annual dues and other revenue sources can be directed into workshops, readings, and other great opportunities."

The OPA first established a profile with TCF in 2010. The profile, part of the TCF PowerPhilanthropy program, is an effort to improve OPA’s ability to secure funding via charitable giving.

Since that time, the OPA officers have steadfastly sought other avenues of fundraising. Those interested in donating to OPA may do so via the TCF PowerPhilanthropy program website at columbusfoundation.org/nonprofit-center/powerphilanthropy. Simply click the "Search PowerPhilanthropy" link and search "Ohio Poetry Association" to donate.

The OPA team is looking for volunteers to assist or even lead fundraising efforts. If you’d like to help out, email team@ohiopoetryassn.org.

The Ohio Poetry Association gratefully acknowledges The Columbus Foundation for its continued support.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Reflections on NFSPS Convention 2016


by Chuck Salmons, President, Ohio Poetry Association

It’s been a few days since I returned from beautiful Minneapolis and the 2016 NFSPS Convention. First,

Crescent moon and geese above lake at
Oak Ridge Hotel & Conference Center
many congratulations to the officers and members of the League of Minnesota Poets (LOMP) who volunteered their time to put on a terrific event. This year’s convention was held on the site of the Oak Ridge Hotel & Conference Center which features a fascinating building design and quiet, relaxing grounds that include a small lake with a 1.5 mile trail. I enjoyed both hikes and jogs around the lake on several days to take a break from the convention and get some fresh air.

The convention was full of activities to stimulate poets and artists alike. Opening day was highlighted by an optional tour of a local craft brewery, Excelsior Brewing, where participants got to sample some flavorful brews along with some tasty poetry. Later that evening, the dinner featured a delicious barbecue with a poetry and music show titled, “LAYERS.” 

From there, the LOMP coordinators treated attendees to a number of workshops during the weekend, as well as panel discussions, and a couple of keynote speakers. The headliner was writer and artist Natalie Goldberg, who is best known for her book, Writing Down the Bones. I found Goldberg to be an engaging and very pleasant speaker who charmed the audience during Sunday evening’s dinner, which was also highlighted with a slide show featuring images of some of her artistic works.


 Chuck Salmons with fellow state presidents
 Marilyn Baszczynski, Iowa Poetry Association (center),
and Peter Stein, League of Minnesota Poets (right)
Among the other featured poets was Phil Bryant, professor at Gustavus Adolphus College. For me, his poetry stole the show as he read from his latest collection, The Grand Terrace: A Jazz Memoir in Verse. Also giving a fascinating multimedia reading was Moheb Soliman, who recited his poems—written during his explorations of the Great Lakes region—while simultaneously projecting numerous images using an aging overhead projector. His work demonstrated how poetry and memories often blend to contort actual events. 

On the final day of the convention, I participated in a strategic planning meeting with NFSPS board members, chairpersons, and other state society presidents. Crucial discussions were held regarding the future of the organization and how it must adapt to modern technologies and expectations of its members in order to secure its development in the coming years. Much like OPA a few years back, it is an organization that 

Natalie Goldberg talks
with OPA member Amy Zook
after a panel discussion
needs to reinvent itself in many ways.

But perhaps the most important experiences for me were the new friendships I developed during the 4½-day event. Most of my evenings were spent in the company of poets from all across the U.S., but especially Minnesota, as we gathered for drinks, conversation, and sharing our poems. More importantly, we shared the parts of ourselves that we value most in others—our individual and shared histories as husbands, wives, and poets.

This is just my second convention; however, it is the first at which I built so many new friendships. And for that, I am most thankful. I appreciate the opportunity to represent OPA members and Ohio poets-at-large. 

I cannot encourage you enough to consider attending next year’s convention, which will be held in Fort Worth, Texas. As we know, Texans do things big. So, that event too is sure to offer great food and fantastic poetry.