Perseus Claims His Prize (Medusa's Head)
—Statue by Benvenuto Cellini
[I know, it's unpleasant for Medusa,
but we all gotta go sometime...]


In a way, a workshop is a "club"—people have a common goal and meet regularly to achieve it. So poetry clubs aren't particularly popular. But there are a few you can join, if you've a mind to:

California State Poetry Society

Unfortunately this organization doesn't have a website; you'll have to contact Russell Salamon at the address below for more about it. The California State Poetry Society (CSPS) is a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization. The CSPS mission is to promote poetry and art in California, the nation and the world. CSPS publishes California Quarterly, a perfect-bound, four-color cover journal; the CSPS Poetry Letter, a venue for previously published poems; and the informative CSPS Newsbriefs. Membership in CSPS is $35 per year, which includes NFSPS membership. CSPS also sponsors a Monthly Contest open to all poets, domestic and foreign. Tax-deductible patron and gift opportunities are available. To receive information on membership in CSPS, the CSPS Monthly Contests, publishing in CQ or the Poetry Letter, or writing articles or commentary for Newsbriefs, please write to this address only: CSPS, POBox 7126, Orange, California 92863.

National Federation of State Poetry Societies (

The National Federation of State Poetry Societies (NFSPS) is a non-profit organization, exclusively educational and literary. It is dedicated solely to the furtherance of poetry on the national level and serves to unite poets in the bonds of fellowship and understanding. The NFSPS sponsors fifty annual poetry contests with cash prizes totaling over $6,000, including a grand prize of $1,500. It also sponsors a contest for a collection of poems by one poet, with a cash prize of $1,000. Strophes is the national society's official newsletter. It is published quarterly with national news but also with state societies' news. It announces numerous contests and lists the national board members and state presidents. The summer issue provides names of judges and winners for the national contests. Annual conventions are conducted for business, instruction, and fellowship. 

California Federation of Chaparral Poets, Inc. (

CFCP, Inc. has served poets, teachers, and students of California for more than 70 years in its role of promoting the appreciation and understanding of poetry. Established in the Los Angeles area in 1939, it quickly spread to other areas throughout the state. Today, CFCP, Inc. recognizes chapters from San Diego to the northern parts of the state, with members-at-large in many other states. Among its more public activities is an annual convention, at which time it offers seminars and workshops, and recognizes outstanding work by both students and adults with prizes and awards. Sacramento has two chapters: New Helvetia, which meets once a year at Crepeville on 24th St. in Sacramento, and Mabel Mello Camino Chapter, which meets every fourth Sat. at noon at Aviators Restaurant at the Executive Airport in Sacramento (email Carol Louise at for more info).

Ina Coolbrith Circle (

Ina Coolbrith was, as you know, California's first woman Poet Laureate, and this group continues in her name. They meet monthly in the Bay Area from September through May, and they also sponsor an annual contest with prizes and the occasional anthology.  

Haiku Society of America (

This is just what it says; I don't know if they have a local chapter. Check it out. There IS a local Haiku group, though—Central Valley Haiku Club (

That's a smattering of the kinds of clubs poets join. If you look around, I'm sure you'll find organizations that suit your interests, thanks to the huge volume of information on the Internet.



As mentioned above, some of these organizations have conventions, annual or otherwise. CFCP, Inc. hosted one in Sacramento not too many years ago, for example. There were seminars, readings, partying, election of officers—the usual things you'd expect at a convention. There aren't too many of these happening anymore, though. Kind of a dying breed.

Poets do still gather for a weekend away with most of the above components (except for electing officers), and these are called "conferences" now, yes? We'll let you know about those that are scheduled in our area as they come up; watch the blue board for info.



The Medusa page on Publishing mentions my opinions about contests: such exercises are pretty subjective. But they can be fun and a source, sometimes, of a wee bit of revenue—provided they don't charge you a big reading fee. Poet's Market has an entire section devoted to contests; that's one of your best places to start, if you're interested in entering them. Here are a couple of larger ones that occur in our area that you might hear about; see above, also, for the Ina Coolbrith Contest and other contests associated with our State and National societies.

Dancing Poetry (

Artists Embassy International, run by Richard and Natica Angilly in the Bay Area, and founded in 1951, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting intercultural understanding and peace through the universal language of the arts. They hold an annual contest; in the Fall, the winning poems from that contest are read, and some of them are staged by Natica's Poetic Dance Theatre Company at an event called "Dancing Poetry", usually held in the beautiful Florence Gould Theatre in the Palace of the Legion of Honor Art Museum in San Francisco. Several of our area poets often win and attend this event.

Berkeley Poets' Dinner

Held each Spring in the Bay Area, this contest has been going on for years and years, and about a dozen of our area poets enter and attend. The catch is that, in order to claim your prize, you must be at the luncheon where prizes are announced and claimed. There is a small bit of cash attached to the prizes, and it's a grand affair. (Inner Cal poets seem to be able to hold their own very well in this and in the Ina Coolbrith Contest in the Fall, for which you need not be present to win.)