President’s Report Jan. 18, 2022
- OPA website. As Rana will tell you later, we have successfully debuted the new website and received many compliments. I have been working on events and comments and other posts, and the site works, so bravo to our website crew.
- NFSPS presidents’ meeting. We met on Saturday, Jan. 15, and it was an eye-opener for me. The national organization has a lot of good things going on that I think we should get more involved in. But in comparison with other states, I think Oregon is doing very well, with more members and more activities than many of them.
A few things we need to be aware of:
A. Each year we are asked to submit our latest membership list and dues of $3 per member in January. This was news to me, but we have been doing it. Among other things, the membership list is used to verify membership for those who enter the NFSPS contests.
B. National conference. They plan to hold the national conference in June in Ohio, but like everyone, they are not sure about meeting in person. They are hoping to offer a hybrid conference, with Zoom connections for those who cannot go to Ohio. They are also looking for states to host the conference in future years. Has Oregon ever done this? Would we be interested?
C. They are working on putting together a national calendar listing events in all the states. I will look into submitting our activities for that.
D. I have three print copies of the Strophes newsletter to share if anyone wants me to mail one to them. Let me know. You can also read it at the NFSPS website.
E. They have a large number of contests currently underway for adult and student poets. We need to encourage participation and we might even consider entering ourselves.
F. Among the contests is the Blackberry Peach Slam poetry contest, which is better referred to as spoken word or poetry in performance, not necessarily the rap-like stuff that comes to mind. Poets are asked to submit four poems in writing and in video form via Submittable by March 15. Video of 2021 winners: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGTxQ9D_bck&t=8s
G. In a related but different item, this year NFSPS is sponsoring the first annual national Blackberry Peach slam competition in October in Florida. They are hoping each state chapter will select a state champion to send to the event. We would pay their travel expenses. This is of course optional, but it does sound like fun. Our ace in the hole is that Eleanor Berry is on the committee putting this on, and she can be a huge help in figuring out our part. Website for this: http://www.nfsps.com/bbpps.html
How we select a state champ is up to us. We need to reserve our space in the contest by May 1, but we don’t need to name a winner by then. Since OPA, to my knowledge, has not done much with slam in the past, we might not be ready to hold our own slam competition in 2022, but that is something we can do. We could hold one big contest on Zoom, have monthly contests with the winners ultimately going against each other, or we could partner with an existing slam poetry organization, i.e. Slamlandia in Portland, and send the poet deemed best in Oregon without holding our own contest.
My own feeling is that this is an exciting idea, but OPA is not geared up to hold a slam contest and select our own slam master this year, although I could be wrong. But we could look into finding the best slam poet from existing competitions. Meanwhile, it would be fun to maybe hold a workshop or practice open mic slams or something to get us into the swing of it. We could also add a spoken word category to our future contests. The feeling of the NFSPS board, most of them mature poets like most of us, is that this is a good way to attract younger poets to join us.