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Supporting Poetry in Chicagoland for 60 Years!

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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.


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 at 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.

August Workshop

August 23, 2014 - POETS AND PATRONS CRITIQUING WORKSHOP: EKPHRASTIC POETRY writing poems about other art

Led By Donna Vorreyer and Cynthia Gallagher.

Ekphrastic poems are poems
written about works of art,
paintings, sculpture, or photo-
graphs. Most definitions include
poems about architecture, films,
novels, symphonies, operas,
and other arts as well. You can
find a large number of examples
of Ekphrastic poems side-by-side
with the works of art that inspired
them at

Donna Vorreyer’s collection, A House of Many Windows, is available from Sundress Publications. Her work has appeared in many journals including Rhino, Redactions, Lablettter, Linebreak, Cider Press Review, Stirring, Sweet, wicked alice, and Weave. Her fifth chapbook, We Build Houses of Our Bodies was released in late 2013 by Dancing Girl Press and her second full-length manuscript Washed with Hymns and Singing is slated for release in 2016.

Cynthia Gallaher is listed on Chicago Public Library's "Top 10 Requested Chicago Poets." Her most recently published chapbook "Omnivore Odes: Poems About Food, Herbs and Spices" was published by Finishing Line Press (2013). She holds a degree in the History of Art and Architecture from UIC and is working on a new manuscript "Leaning Tower of Touhy and Other Ekphrastic Poems."

Join us for this Poets & Patrons Workshop Saturday, August 23, at 1:00 p.m. in Room 6N (on the third floor of the Harold Washington Library at 400 S. State Street.) NOTE: THIS ROOM IS ON THE THIRD FLOOR. LIBRARY STAFF MEMBERS MAY NOT BE ABLE TO TELL YOU WERE WE ARE MEETING..

Some members will gather at Panera’s on the southeast corner of State and Congress (diagonally across the street from the library) between 11:30 and noon, to eat lunch or drink a cup of coffee or tea and socialize before the meeting. You are welcome to join us there.

Donna Vorreyer and Cynthia Gallagher

"Landscape with the Fall of Icarus"

William Carlos Williams (1962)

According to Brueghel when Icarus fell
it was spring

a farmer was ploughing his field
the whole pageantry

of the year was awake tingling near

the edge of the sea concerned
with itself

sweating in the sun that melted
the wings' wax

unsignificantly off the coast there was

a splash quite unnoticed this was
Icarus drowning

Upcoming Workshops:

October 25 at the Hinsdale Public Library: reading of winning poems from our annual contest, and a workshop on Haiku, led by Charlotte Digregorio.

Write! Chicago Workshop:

August 14, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Contact Caroline Johnson at or 708-839-1699 for more information.

The optional assignment for August is to write an ekphrastic poem, i.e., a poem inspired by a painting or another creative work. The poem can be free or formal verse. Poems submitted in advance will be critiqued at the meeting, if the author is present. You are always free to ignore the assignment and submit another kind of poem instead.

Members may mail their poems to Wilda Morris, 499 Falcon Ridge Way, Bolingbrook IL 60440, by August 13, or (preferably) email them to by August 17 (put P & P in the subject line). If mailing, send a check for $5 per poem submitted ($10 for non-members), made out to Poets & Patrons. (Non-members may attend a couple of meetings before deciding to join. Or send $20 for 2014 membership and $5 with a poem for critique). If you email your poem(s) bring your check to the workshop or mail it to Beth Staas at 1634 Barnsdale Road, LaGrange Park IL 60526. E-mail questions (or late poems) 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. You may send a maximum of two poems for critique; the fee must be paid for each poem submitted.

Write! Chicago

Dear Poets,
Join us Thursday, August 14, for the next Write! Chicago outing as we venture up north to the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum for a fun-filled afternoon.
The museums hosts many exhibits.  Some include:
Nature's Struggle:
Survival & Extinction
Take a guided journey through the history of biodiversity in three distinct time periods: 1820, 1905 and 2014. Experience the difference in our environment over time, the causes of those changes, and the startling consequences of our everyday actions.
The Dreams of Martha
Watercolors by Kristina Knowski
2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the death of the last known passenger pigeon, fondly known as Martha. Knowski’s work invites us to uncover the mystery and fragile beauty of these long lost and threatened animals.
Judy Istock Butterfly Haven
The Judy Istock Butterfly Haven is the museum's internationally renowned signature 2,700 square foot greenhouse. Home to more than 1,000 butterflies (75 species), the haven is the perfect tropical retreat.
Other exhibits include “Prairie Splendor” (photography), “Rare Nature:  Endangered Species Print Project,” “Extreme Green House,” “Mysteries of the Marsh,” “Nature Trails,” “RiverWorks,” and “Birds of Chicago.”  If we can’t find a poem here, we are not poets!!
Thursdays are suggested donation days for Illinois residents. Normal admission is $9 for adults, and $7 for students and seniors (60+).
The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum is located at 2430 N Cannon Dr, Chicago, IL 60614, or just off of Lake Shore Drive at Fullerton Parkway.  It seems like driving is the best way to get to the museum, and free parking is available on Cannon and Stockton Drive.
We will meet at 11 a.m. by the entrance.  As usual, we will disperse to view the various exhibits individually, then convene to write and share and eat lunch.

To RSVP, e-mail Caroline Johnson at  A group of us will be carpooling from the western suburbs, so if you want to join our group, let us know in your e-mail.


Please note two upcoming events and please RSVP:

Saturday, Aug. 16 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Winnetka (IL) Public Library, 768 Oak St., Winnetka, there will be a three-hour critique. You can bring poems to share or just come to listen and learn.

There is free parking both at the Library and across the street in the Village Hall area. As the time gets closer, I will know how many people will be attending and how many copies of your poems you should bring.

Critique is always beneficial for attendees, and many report having gotten poems published that we worked on collectively.

Saturday, Aug. 23, at 8 p.m. at Madame ZuZu's Tea House, 582 Roger Williams Ave., Highland Park, IL, I will be hosting a  poetry open mic. It is sponsored by Highland Park Poetry. Please attend and bring your best poems to share, whether haiku or other forms. (Read only tasteful poetry!) Madame ZuZu's has a nice ambiance, and many area poets and residents show up regularly.

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.

The Helen Schaible International Sonnet Contest

2011 Contest Winners
2012 Contest Winners
2013 Contest Winners

Poetry Events

August 14, 2014 Write! Chicago workshop at Peggy Notebart Museum

August 23, 2014 Workshop at the Harold Washington Library


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, If you would like to join us, please fill out the following form: Membership Form. The cost of membership for 2014 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.

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

Windy City Writers

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 8/1/2014.

Comments and questions on this website: lwallin at