The League of Minnesota Poets (LOMP) was established in 1934. The purpose of LOMP “…to make Minnesota poetry conscious, and conscious to its own poets.” is achieved by striving to meet four objectives: 1) to encourage the study of Minnesota poetry in the state’s schools 2) to create newspaper and magazine outlets for the best work of Minnesota poets 3) to publish periodic collections of verse by members, and to publish a League magazine called The Moccasin, and assist in providing a permanent record of accomplishments. And lastly, 4) by accumulating historical material for a scrapbook and thereby preserve pertinent information about the organization.
LOMP achieves these goals in many ways, through sponsorship of a student poetry contest, providing poets in the schools, participating in readings, annual contests, collaborations and other events throughout the state. Through the publication of our annual member anthology The Moccasin and other works, both digital and print, LOMP is committed to the publication of our members work. While participating in these activities LOMP diligently documents our events creating a lasting body of work throughout our history. LOMP holds biannual state meetings for our members in the spring and fall and annually sends delegates to our affiliated organization the National Federation of State Poetry Societies’ June convention.
Currently LOMP has five regional chapters through out the state, Heartland Poets in Brainerd, Mississippi Valley Poets & Writers in theTwin Cities, Cracked Walnut an online and reading based non-regionalized chapter, Southeastern MN Poets in Rochester and Southern MN Poets in Mankato. Each chapter hosts the fall and spring LOMP meeting on a rotating basis. If you are interested in starting a chapter in your area please check out Chapters Page for more information.
Elections are held annually for varying terms depending on the office. The current officers are as follows:
President: Peter Stein firstname.lastname@example.org
Vice President: Amanda Bailey Scienceheckler@aol.com
Recording Secretary: David Stein email@example.com
Treasurer/Membership: Mary Schmidt firstname.lastname@example.org
Corresponding Secretary: Meredith Cook email@example.com
Immediate Past President: Dennis Herschbach firstname.lastname@example.org
LOMP Poet Laureate – Doris Stengel email@example.com
Moccasin Editor – Meredith R. Cook. firstname.lastname@example.org
Historian: Shirley Poliquin. email@example.com
Contest Chair: Peter Stein firstname.lastname@example.org
LOMPLighter: Joe Anderson email@example.com
Youth Chair: Brendan Brophy firstname.lastname@example.org
Website Coordinator: Christina M. Flaugher email@example.com
Regional Vice Presidents
Regional VP’s represent each regional chapter. At the spring meeting each regional vp reports on the activities of their chapter. Each chapter is responsible for electing their representative. Current Regional VP’s are.
Cracked Walnut David Stein firstname.lastname@example.org
Heartland Poets-Brainerd Doris Stengel email@example.com
MississippiValleyPoets & Writers-Cities Peter Stein, firstname.lastname@example.org
Southeastern MNPoets-Rochester Leslie Redinger email@example.com
Southern MN Poets Society-Mankato Susan Stevens Chambers firstname.lastname@example.org
League ofMinnesota Poets History:
(Compiled by Charmaine Donovan and Christina Flaugher–with information provided by Meredith Cook, Ruth Wahlberg and Valerie Bump)
In 1933, Minnesota poets Robert Cary and Irl Morse, developed the idea of a poetry series, Poetry of Today, which became a column in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The goal of this series was to generate state interest in forming a state poetry organization. Other poets helped to further this goal through financial support and by writing letters to prospective members. On February 10, 1934, thirty-three Minnesota poets met at the Lowry Hotel inSt. Paul,MN. These 33 poets became the first charter members of the newly-formed League of Minnesota Poets. The first officers were elected. Marie d’Autremont Gerry became the first President. Three meetings were held during the year. By the year’s end there were 74 members.
The first two books published by the League that first year are instructive to the mission statement of the League. One, entitled Anthology of Minnesota Verse, was written by Maude Schilplin, another, Steps in Creative Poetry, by Clara Clausen. These early members endeavored “…to makeMinnesotapoetry conscious, and conscious to its own poets.” Publishing poetry by Minnesota poets was one way to make poetry a part of the state culture and showcase the organizations poetry. Another was by instructing poets in the art of poetry so they would to become more accomplished, well-rounded poets.
Members worked zealously to do this by adopting four objectives: 1) to encourage the study of Minnesota poetry in the state’s schools 2) to create newspaper and magazine outlets for the best work of Minnesota poets 3) to publish periodic collections of verse by members, and to publish a League magazine called The Moccasin, and assist in providing a permanent record of accomplishments. And lastly, by accumulating historical material for a scrapbook and thereby preserve pertinent information about the organization.
By the second year, League membership had increased to 153 members. An exhibit was held at the State Fair. The first non-member contest was held, sponsored jointly by the League and Parent-Teacher Association groups of the state. Year Book 1935, a 36-page first collection of poems by members sold for 25 cents per copy. The Moccasin, a mimeographed bulletin, was sent out irregularly to members. It contained personal news, meeting information, and a few poems.
By the following year, 1936, The Moccasin, was expanded into a poetry magazine, with emphasis on members’ poems and less about personal news and editorials. Two 64-page brochures of members’ poems were published and sold for 25 cents each.
By 1938 the office of Librarian was developed. This person was responsible for books owned by the League, primarily books published by members. That same year, Anthology of Minnesota Verse, a 750 page, enlarged and revised book was published, along with another book sponsored by the St. Paul Poets’ Seminar. TheseSt. Paulpoems were originally read on WTCN radio. A Board of Critics was formed to give constructive criticism to members at the cost of 25 cents per poem.
For forty years The Moccasin was printed quarterly for members, including information about upcoming League events. (Sometimes there were 4 state meetings a year, then three, and now two.) The Moccasin often included poems from regular League contests. Ten editors preceded the current editor, Meredith Cook, who has been editor for the past twenty years. Currently The Moccasin comes out as an annual publication at the fall meeting in October. 2012 was the 75th year of Moccasin publication.
Many books by members were published between 1942 and 1950. The most successful of these, Minnesota Skyline, was printed in twelve editions and 20,000 copies.
In 1952, the League presented 8 large bound volumes to the Minnesota Historical Society that included a compilation of League poets’ verse, autobiographies and photos. St. Paul Poets’ Seminar disbanded as a branch. Poetry Day, October 15, 1952 was commemorated with radio shows, school programs and a double sonnet contest.
Between 1954 and 1956 many books and brochures by members were published. An exhibit of paintings by members was so popular, the League decided to make this an annual event. A mock trial was performed to observe the 20th Anniversary of the League.
In 1982 the League of Minnesota Poets adopted a proposal to name Poets Laureate to five year terms. Elvira T. Johnson and Norman Boe shared the first-term honors. Following Johnson and Boe were: Patricia Johnson, Wilfred Johnson, Susan Stevens Chambers, Maxine Russell, John Calvin Rezmerski, and current LOMP Poet Laureate Shirley Ensrud who was appointed in Spring of 2012. After a Poet Laureate finishes their term, their title becomes “Poet Laureate Emeritus.”
In 1984, in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the League, a poetry contest on the subject of peace was held. Ruth Wahlberg, Two Harbors, received a bronze trophy (which was a replica of a statue in St. Paul) for her poem entitled, “Hear the Cries of the Children.”
In 1987, the League hosted their first national poetry convention inMankato,MN. The convention responsibilities were primarily assumed by the Southern Minnesota Poetry Society. Michael Dennis Browne and Judson Jerome were among the featured speakers.
In 1990 at the State Capitol Rotunda in St. Paul, MN, Grand Prize winner of the NFSPS Contest, Susan Stevens Chambers, runner-up Diane Glancy, and out-standing League leaders Norman Boe, Elvira T. Johnson, Patricia M. Johnson and Wilfred Johnson were honored in a public ceremony.
In 2000, LOMP hosted the National Federation of State Poetry Societies, Inc in Minnetonka,MN. Doris Stengel was LOMP President. To give guests a taste of Minnesota culture, the event started with a potluck dinner held at a local church. Michael Bugeja was the keynote speaker. The theme was “Magnetic Minnesota,” an idea hatched by Marlys Tennyson Binger. Many magnetic poetry sets were given away as gifts.
In 2002 at the National Convenstion hosted in Souix Falls, South Dakota League student member Christina M. Flaugher was awarded The Edna Muedt Scholarship for her manuscript Intervals in Life.
In 2005 the League began sponsoring the Cambria Eisteddfod competition in congunction with the Blue Earth County Historical society. The competition is two fold. First poets submit a sample of written work to be judged. These applicatants are then narrowed down to five finalists. The five finalists then compete in an oral competiton in the Welsh tradition. In addition to co-sponsoring the event, League member Doris Stengel has won and been chaired as the bard. The League continues to co-sponsor Eisteddfod to the present day.
In June 2009, the League hosted “A Superior Convention” for NFSPS, Inc. on the shimmering shores ofLake Superior. This convention began with a harbor cruise, included s’mores at the hotel firepit every night, and ended with a Sunday night gala to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the National Federation of State Poetry Societies, Inc. Mark Doty was the keynote speaker. Susan Chambers and Dennis Herschbach Co-Chaired the Convention Committee. Doris Stengel and Christina Flaugher were Mistresses of Ceremony. League President Charmaine Donovan oversaw the event. In additon student League member Colin Chambers was awarded The Florance Khan scholarship for his mauscript Gladly We Are Made Clumsy and Unwise.
2012: Shirley Ensrud was appointed Poet Laureate of the League of Minnesota Poets.
2016: Doris Stengel was appointed Poet Laureate of the League of Minnesota Poets