History of Club Officers

1941-1941    Ina L. Mellichamp
1941-1942    La Vetta Hummel
1942-1944    Willella Shearer Kennedy
1944-1946    Gladys V. Castle [Fleming]
1946-1948    Ethel Caffee
1948-1955    L.M. Woodruff
1955-1957    David Citron
1957-1959    James Shipley
1959-1961    Harry Fauth
1961-1963    Helen Dehner
1963-1965    John Dehner
1965-1967    Hartley Crosbie
1967-1968    Shirley Rice
1968-1969    Catherine Barger
1969-1970    Anna N. Zimmerman
1970-1971    Agnes Marme
1971-1972    Jacob Lentz
1972-1973    Steve McDonald
1973-1975    Evelyn Davis
1975-1977    Dr. Edwina Doran
1977-1979    Bell Delicath
1979-1980    Delma Karmes
1980-1982    Dorothy Craig
1982-1983    Georgia Haueisen
1983-1985    George Chaffee
1985-1986    Nyal Kerrick
1986-1987    Glenna Lamb
1987-1988    Erwin Keyster
1988-1989    Betty Wilson
1990-1991    Mary Meismer
1991-1993    Bill Snodgrass
1993-1995    Dianne Edwards
1995-1997   Sister Margie Meismer
1997-1999   Bill Snodgrass
1999-2002   Moderators (Various)
2002-2004   Art Allen
2004-2006    Moderators (Various)
2006-2012    Joan Johnson

2012-2014    Lois Funk

2014-………..    George Tanner

Poetry from Club Archives

1941: POETRY IS WHERE YOU FIND IT
by   Lewis M. Woodruff

A thoughtful person asked of me
“How do some folks find poetry?
They write it down, it seems, with ease
But tell me where it comes from, please.”

I answered, “Poetry is found
In everything that is around,
A poem may come from what you see,
Hear, touch or feel or think to be.

A poem may only be a word
Or, pages of what’s seen or heard.
It may relate to times gone by,
Make readers laugh or sometimes cry.

It may be great, it may be small
Or deal with anything at all.
It may treat of the world outside
Or inner thoughts you mostly hide.

So, all that poets really seek,
Is that great gift we have to find
Within our heart, or our own mind
For poetry touches, lose or win,
Both heaven and earth, and all therein.”

History

The Peoria Poetry Club was founded in 1941 as the Central Illinois Poetry Club. It is the longest running writers’ group in Peoria. The following is from our early minutes:

Poetry Club to be Organized Here.

“Central Illinois is to have a poetry club with headquarters in Peoria. A group of local writers met recently at the home of Ina L. Mellichamp, 700 N. Madison Ave., to discuss organization. Those present were the Misses Lavetta L. Hummel, Virginia D. Williams, Alice Virginia Smith and Mrs. Mellichamp.

Plans were made for a general meeting, which will be held at the Pere Marquette Hotel Tuesday, January 28, at 7:30 p.m. Peoria poets and others interested in creative writing are invited to be present.

Would we be present? We would, and were; it was a stormy night, snowy and blustery. Those who were hardy enough to attend were nearly blown from their feet and holding an umbrella was virtually impossible; but we were there full of determination. We were evidently a hardy group and it was well that we were, for the first few winters that initial stormy weather seemed to have organized with us. Stormy meeting nights seemed to be the rule rather than the exception. It soon became a joke among us and was referred to as “poetry club weather.””

The following is the newspaper account of our first meeting:

Poetry Club Elects Temporary Officers

“Formed to exchange ideas and help each other in their creative writing, the new Central Illinois Poetry Club elected temporary officers Tuesday evening at the Hotel Pere Marquette, with Mrs. Ina L. Mellichamp as President.

Suggestions for the group’s name are to be brought to the Feb. 10 meeting. Other officers are Miss Lavetta Hummel, Vice President; Miss Virginia Williams, Recording Secretary; Mrs. Catherine W. Davis, Corresponding Secretary; and Mrs. Ethel Caffee, Treasurer. Appointed as Chairman of the Constitution Committee was Mrs. Queenie Altman, with Miss Dora Dinsmore and Ernest Bullock as members. The club, open to all creative writers in Central Illinois, will meet at 8 o’clock p.m. the second and forth Mondays in every month.

The club flourished from the start and the newspapers gave us their most hearty cooperation, carrying accurate accounts of every meeting in those first few years until the war and paper shortage took precedence over all else and club news was either left out or shortened or changed until it no longer accurately recorded our meetings, and for many years it has been very inadequately covered.”

(The writer of this article did not preserve many of the news items in those early years, so we can only record the events.)