Saturday, January 24, 2009

“The Word ‘Passion’ Comes to Mind in Excess of Five Times”

by Keith Badowski

As I step into the role of President of Georgia Poetry Society, I feel I should introduce myself and offer a few words about my passion for our organization. The introduction first:

I was born and grew-up in New York State. In 1994, I moved to Athens, Georgia. I’m forty years old now and have been writing poetry for over twenty years. I dearly love my wife Christina. We currently live in Phenix City, Alabama where I am the Assistant to the Pastor at our local Methodist church. Both my bachelors and masters degrees are in English Literature. My poems are published or forthcoming in Oxalis, Monkey, The Reach of Song, Rambunctious Review, Birmingham Arts Journal, and FutureCycle Poetry. For me, the performance of poetry aloud is as important as the written page—which explains the hundreds of poetry readings I’ve participated in over the years. I’m also a big enthusiast about revision and being in community with fellow poets, motivating my active participation in the local poetry workshops in Columbus, GA. These are focused gatherings where poets give each other feedback and suggestions for improving their poems. (If you don’t have a poetry workshop near you, I urge you to start one; it may do wonders for your writing!)

Now let’s move on to my passion for our organization. My relationship with the Georgia Poetry Society (GPS) began back in 1997 when I made my way to one of the quarterly meetings in Atlanta. I remember the warm reception I received and how I was urged to read a poem in the “Member Readings” section of the program. How I enjoyed hearing so many different voices and such a variety of styles of poetry. It impressed me to see such an encouraging spirit among the members of the group. I felt as if I were “home.”

Since that first meeting, I have served as webmaster, newsletter editor, publicist, and board member for the Georgia Poetry Society. I urge and encourage all of you to volunteer to help with some aspect of GPS. We are a non-profit organization, driven by our passion for poetry and relying entirely on volunteer power. In other words, your creativity and passion is needed!

Over the years, my experiences at the society meetings have only enhanced the sense of value I find in GPS membership. My favorite thing about GPS is the camaraderie among poets—all of us giving each other energy and encouragement to write our visions, to revise and craft our writing, and to send it out to the world, entering contests or submitting it for publication. In addition, we get to hear some fabulous featured poets, the likes of Beth Gylys, John Stone or Thomas Lux—contemporary poets of the highest quality. Through our chapbook competition, we participate in “discovering” poets who, as is often the case, have been diligently honing their craft over the years while we were unawares. From time to time, we hear extraordinary lectures on poets or poetry, encouraging our journey in learning more about our craft. And who could forget the inspiration (and fun) we get from participating in our frequent poetry workshops? (It’s great to hear the spontaneous results and more than once I’ve come away with a workable poem.) Not to mention the plethora of contests and the chance at getting published in The Reach of Song. (Why not mention them? Well, most folks mention those things first, so I chose to be contrary!)

I see my job as president to be the passionate keeper of the flame that is GPS, aiming to encourage all of you to attend as many quarterly meetings as possible and to participate as fully as possible in all GPS activities. As we grow together in our craft together, I’m sure we’ll influence each other to greater heights!

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