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A way with words

Camden Poets Society celebrates 20 years

Posted: February 24, 2012 1:52 p.m.
Updated: February 27, 2012 5:00 a.m.

The Camden Poets Society (CPS), an affiliate of the Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County (FAC), celebrated its 20th anniversary at the Douglas-Reed House on the campus of the FAC Feb. 7. Anyone who had ever participated in the Camden Poets Society was invited to attend. Notebooks covering the 20 years were on display along with published books of poetry. There was also a special display honoring members who have passed away along with samples of their work.
The evening’s program included a welcome by Bill Ammons, a blessing given by Eddie Furman, dinner, a review of activities and events from 1992 to 2012 by Kay Roberson, and the “lighting of candles” cermony.

Awards of appreciation were presented by Edith Moiser on behalf of the CPS to Bill Ammons, president of CPS and Kay Roberson, chairperson and newsletter editor. Kay Fetner was presented with an award as a charter and lifetime member of the CPS. Jackie Inman, treasurer; Edith Mosier, secretary; and Virginia Furman were presented with an award of grateful appreciation for their dedication and service to the CPS. Original music for the evening was provided by Fred Ingram.

The History of the Camden Poets Society

The Camden Poets Society was initiated by Bill Ammons, who wanted to get a group together to read and share their love of poetry. He spoke with others who were interested and located Emily Post Pitts, a Camden resident and published member of the SC Poets Society of Charleston to help with this endeavor. The first meeting of the CPS was held in the Douglas-Reed House at the FAC on Tuesday, February 1, 1992. It began with six members and has since grown to an active membership of 25 contributing community poets. Each meeting focuses on readings of members’ original works.
The founding members of the CPS included Bill Ammons, Kay Fetner, Kay Roberson, Pamela Barefoot, Connie Jones, Bob and Ponza Vaughn, and Theo (Kay) Brown. Other members quickly followed including Carrie Kirk Montgomery, Margie McNeill, Emily  Post Pitts, Edith Mosier, Betty Sheheen, Fred Ingram, Shamila Fowler, Frances Rhame, Lois Zemp, Lynn Gordon, and Juanita Jackson. Membership continued to grow through the years and included many others including Neptune Gallant, Paige Tyler Tate, Joan Hunter, Phil Morris, Alice Cabaniss Banks, Joel Fullmer, Sallie George, Dan Stevenson, Tom Webb, Linda Rogers, Verdell Kelly, James Case, Virginia Furman, Jackie Inman, Marilyn Kohn, Bruce Newby and June Turner.

During these 20 years, the CPS has been very involved within the community sponsoring Open Mic nights, book signings and readings, receptions for local poets, published two collections of poetry, Tuesdays on Lyttleton Street and the CPS’ 10th anniversary Collection of Poetry. They have sponsored and hosted youth competitions for school aged children and published their work; given multiple poetry writing presentations in the schools and other community groups; held workshops on journal writing and poetry design and have participated in the Actors Theatre of South Carolina’s production of Palmetto Passions. They publish the CPS Poetry Exchange and have instituted two honor awards, The Emily Post Pitts Award for excellence in poetry and the Theo (Kay) Brown Award for exceptional service and contribution to the CPS. A number of the members’ works have been published and members are continuously involved in poetry events around the southeast.

“It has been quite a ride,” says Kay Roberson of her 20-year involvement in CPS. “With some incredibly talented, strong, courageous, honest and kind people. This Camden Poet Society has been, and is for me, an ever present and continuing love affair.”

The next event of the CPS will be an Open Mic evening at the Kershaw County Library, April 3 from 6:45 to 7:45 p.m.
For more information about the Camden Poets Society, contact Kay Roberson at 438-9356.

The Fine Arts Center is funded in part by the Frederick S. Upton Foundation and the South Carolina Arts Commission, which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional funding provided by the City of Camden, Kershaw County, and BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina along with donations from businesses and individuals.

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