MPS Spring Festival 2011

The MPS Spring Festival was sponsored by the South Branch at Gulf Hills Hotel and Conference Center in Ocean Springs on April 29-May1. A pre-festival get-together was held Friday evening at the home of Brenda and Martin Finnegan. Since it was the wedding day of Prince William and Kate Middleton of England, South Branch sponsored an “Out of the Box” contest. Doris Jones (below, left) came away with 1st Place and was crowned.

The next day contest awards were given out by Dr. Emory Jones. I was surprised and pleased to win 1st Place for “Mother’s,” 3rd Place for “What Do You Know of Spring,” 3rd Place for a Narrative Poem, “Chopin: Robbing Time,” and an Honorable Mention for “Reaching for Light.” There was a Critique by panelists Dr. Will Watson (USM, Coast Branch), Tana Ford, and Tommy Little. I was fortunate enough that mine was the first poem critiqued! Comments were very encouraging and helpful.  I must quote Dr. Watson as calling my poem “sophisticated.” (W.W., your check is in the mail.)

Dr. Will Watson (USM), Tana Ford, Tommy Little, and Judy Davies

Dr. Virginia Gilbert, recipient of the 2010 Literature Fellowship from the Alabama State Council on the Arts conducted a workshop on “What Our Words and Images Say about Us and How We Get Those Words out to the Public in the Computer Age.” We also did an interesting writing exercise that continued later that night.

Our Poet of the Year, Doris Jones, read from her book, Pull Down the Stories. Doris is also a storyteller and works in the schools. She writes very “tight.”

Jeanne Smith Kelly presented Dr. Emory Jones with the MPS State Poet Laureate Award.

A book signing followed, and I even signed and sold copies of the anthology, From the Porch Swing–memories of our grandparents (Silver Boomer). I have two stories and a prose piece in that anthology.

A Banquet followed with dinner music by Elva Avara on keyboard and Ken Davies on trombone. Keynote speaker was Dr. Virginia Gilbert. As a former Peace Corps volunteer and Peace Corps poet she had the opportunity to take many interesting photos which won awards. She said getting a different perspectives from the countries she visited changed her, and her writing. Dr. Gilbert gave us their background of many of her beautiful black and white photographs on display, and read the poems she had written to go with several of them.

Sunday morning we had a devotional by Dr. Jones and hymns played by Elva Avara and Ken Davies.  Then we had our business meeting. Officers for 2011 were installed:  Brenda Finnegan– President; Jeanne Smith Kelly–VP; Judy Davies –Treasurer, and I was elected Secretary!

Judy Davies, Wynne, Jeanne Smith Kelly and Brenda Finnegan

More awards were given and I was pleased the 5 of my music students (4 of them had written poems in TAG ) were awarded 1st, 2nd, 3rd and honorable mentions in their elementary grade divisions. I was also happy that students at ECCC received many awards. Newton County rocked! Debbie Little’s niece won a first place for a beautiful anacrostic poem.

Judy Davies enlightened us on grants available through MAC and South Arts. Door prizes were given and we adjourned our meeting.

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