OPA Annual Meeting Minutes, October 9, 2021

Minutes of the Oregon Poetry Association Annual Meeting of October 9, 2021

  1. Jennifer Rood, President, began the meeting at 9 am.
  2. Jennifer thanked Emmett Wheatfall for his keynote address, the workshop presenters, and the OPA Board members who worked on the conference.
  • Jennifer announced the new Board members: Nancy Christopherson Eastern Oregon; Priscilla Hunter, Southwest Oregon; and Lauren Mallett, Oregon Coast. She noted that having Board members from various regions was a plus. She also mentioned the outgoing Board members: Dale Champlin, Susan Morse, and herself.
  1. President’s Report: The Year in Review (NFSPS State Report 2021)
  • Membership is now about 370, up from low 300s a couple of years ago; the increase is possibly due to the need for community during the pandemic and also OPA’s expanded program offerings.
  • In 2020 we held a very successful one-day, virtual Fall Conference that began with a plenary session and keynote speaker Ashley Toliver, Winner of the Oregon Poetry Book Award. Twelve 45-minute workshops were offered. The Banta Award recipient, Linda Varsell Smith, was named in a closing ceremony that also introduced the new Board members.
  • In March 2021, we held two virtual readings celebrating the poets published in our 2019 literary journal Verseweavers. We also held our Spring Contest, which included the following categories: Poet’s Choice, Members Only, Themed, Traditional Form, Under 30 (for younger poets), and also a Spanish language category.
  • In April 2021, we held six virtual, regional readings highlighting the poets published in our special publication Pan/de/mik 2020, in which approximately 130 members wrote about the experience of living through the pandemic. These readings were very popular, with anywhere from 20 to 50 people participating in each reading. The journal we produced serves as a historical document, and was also a very special way for members to participate in a collective project and connect during the pandemic.
  • In May 2021, we held two craft workshops. The first was given by Derek Sheffield: Tracking the Ecopoem in the Anthropocene. The second was given by W. Todd Kaneko: Writing the Vertical. Each workshop was attended by about 20 people.
  • In July 2021, we hosted one more craft workshop: poet Armin Tolentino gave a workshop on Metaphor and the Fantastical Imagination; it was also well-attended.
  • During the summer, we hosted a series of open mic events called Third Friday Birthday Parties. Each month, we celebrated a different poet with a summer birthday. In July, we featured Pablo Neruda and his poem “The Sea.” In August, we featured Wendell Berry and his poem “How to Be a Poet.” And in September, we featured Mary Oliver and her poem “The Summer Day.” Each reading had about a dozen participants. Those with birthdays that month were our featured readers, and an open mic followed their poems. These events were offered free to all.
  • In August and September, we held our Fall Contest, which included the same broad categories we had in Spring: Poet’s Choice, Members Only, Themed, Traditional Form, Under 30 (for younger poets), and also a Spanish language category. Winners will be announced in the next few weeks.
  • This past summer, we hired a grant writer, Duy Doan, to help navigate the grant-writing process with the Collins Foundation, which had funded our Cascadia student contest and journal in the past. After a year in which we did not run the student contest (in part due to difficulties presented with the school shutdowns because of the pandemic), we had hoped to be able to resurrect Cascadia for the 21-22 school year. Unfortunately, we did not receive the grant this year.
  • The present Fall 2021 Annual Conference is organized much like the 2020 virtual conference, with a few modifications. There are two Banta Award recipients this year: Eleanor Berry and Laura LeHew. Our theme is Bearing Witness and our keynote speaker is Emmett Wheatfall. Overall, there are 8 workshop presenters, and participants can attend 4 one-hour workshops.
  • We look forward to the publication of our 2020 Verseweavers in the coming month, and we are nearly ready for our website update to go live, with a fresher, cleaner, more streamlined look and experience.

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