MSAPPS (Matsqui-Sumas-Abbotsford Poets Potpourri Society)
2012 Board of Directors
President: Brayden Sawatzky
Treasurer/Director: Rita Carrington
Director: Nicholas Roberts
Website/Director: Violet Nesdoly
Director: Alvin Ens
Donna Bishop: Founder/Honorary Member
Thurlow Gowan: Honorary Member
Alvin Ens: Honorary Member
Jaye Low: Honorary Member
MSAPPS is a poetry reading club based in Abbotsford. Founded in 1981 by Donna Bishop (see history below), it has, for over 25 years, provided a venue to local writers, largely poets, to give birth and voice to their best thoughts.
The Goals of MSA PPS:
- Develop the skill of public reading for writers, both novices and journeymen, by providing a safe atmosphere in which to read their work
- Encourage poets, writers and would-be writers to devote time to write and create
- Help writers hone their craft through workshops and lectures
- Collaborate on group literary projects
- Promote the art of poetry in our community through public readings
- Celebrate the life of the community through poems for special occasions
- Raise awareness that the act of writing poetry and prose can heal emotions and elevate self-esteem
MSA PPS Regular Meetings:
- 2011 Open Mike Poetry and Prose Readings at the Clearbrook Library…more info
- 2011 Blue Moon Reading Series at Clearbrook Library … more info
- Annual Potluck Dinner (date and location to be announced).
- 2011 Annual General Meeting (date and location to be announced)
- 2012 Open Mic and Blue Moon Reading Series at Clearbrook Library (more info)
Membership in the MSA Poets Potpourri Society
You can belong to a unique organization of local poets officially named Matsqui-Sumas- Abbotsford Poets Potpourri Society, affectionately called Poets Potpourri (often abbreviated as MSAPPS or PPS).
Annually $15.00 (Oct.1 to Sept. 30 if purchased before May 31) if purchased after June 1 then $10 to Sept. 30
1. Promote the well-being and growth of Poets Potpourri Society.
2. Be regular in attendance at PPS activities, especially open mics and Blue Moon readings.
3. Attend and vote at the annual AGM.
4. Be involved in PPS activities and PPS’s participation in community events (eg. manning a promotional table or a sales table or bringing snack/goodies)
1. Join PPS and get a membership card as a member of a local poets’ group.
2. Be assured of a spot to read whenever PPS has an open mic. (Be on time, please)
3. Be profiled and publish 2-4 poems on the PPS website.
4. Be assured a spot in PPS poetry publications.
5. Sell your books at the PPS sales table.
6. Reduction of 20% in the purchase of any PPS sales. (This means that when members ask PPS to conduct sales for them that the 20% would apply though they can set the original price.)
[e.g. River of Words sells for $15.00 but members will buy it for $12.00.]
7. Vote at PPS elections and run for PPS office.
8. Help PPS make decisions at the AGM and periodic meetings.
9. Attend the annual PPS Christmas function (and invite your guest).
10. Buy a PPS constitution for the cost of printing.
“Who would have thought that Donna Bishop would be finding and quoting inspiration found in a Nike slogan for a writer’s group that she herself founded? Then again, Donna did pen the name Poets Potpourri Society.” – Erin Fisher
Excerpts from “The Donna Bishop Journey with Poets Potpourri Society”
“Greatness is wherever someone is trying to find it.” – Nike
The most important aspect of my journey is that it has been fulfilling, but it would not have been so without everyone who participated. Thanks to all who gave of time and talent in special ways.
Poetry is one of my passions. My influence was from homestead farming parents who both recited. From Mom it was Pauline Johnston; Dad recited Longfellow, The Village Blacksmith at community events, even at political rallies. I became mesmerized by the sound of the human voice. During my teens I was chosen to enter the then popular Kiwanis Festivals in Lethbridge, Alberta during the 1930’s, reciting from the Master Poets.
I did not initiate the Poets Potpourri with the attitude “I am a poet,” but rather as one ready to learn with the Group. I simply saw a way, a need, as a recently widowed senior. I could give to a cause, provide podiums, and audiences – open mics, once a month for the vulnerable youth to realize that the pen is mightier than the sword; Words, instead of substance use and violence.
After almost a near decade as a Club, Poets Potpourri applied for society status. On April 4, 1990 we were officially the MSA (Matsqui-Sumas-Abbotsford) Poets Potpourri Society. Fast forward to today, we are with our 12th President, Brayden Sawatzky in his fourth year term. His recent book of stories in poetry is called A Breath of Light a refreshing read which he edited. Layout, formatting and cover design by Alvin Ens, our main anthology and history research developer. Contact www.poetspotpourrisociety.com.
Although the vision for initiating Poets Potpourri Society (PPS) was for the youth, because it was mostly college students in the early years who participated, at the same time my aim was to provide special events for out-of-town, seasoned writers and readers. Our first was in 1982, after one year of monthly open mics, Poets Potpourri hosted a UBC English Lit Poet and a Gastown, Vancouver poet at a cabaret-style Christmas Party. You can read more in our 25th Year Tribute edited by Alvin in Poetic Spirits of the Valley.
Our second event was in 1989 held at Charisma Gallery, Abbotsford, with Michelle Birch-Conery and Derek Hanebury via the Knowledge Network, both hailing from North Island College, Port Alberni, BC.
Our third special event took place at Matsqui Centennial Auditorium, Abbotsford in 1996. Heavy public relations and press brought committed poets from everywhere. We had hosted one of our most successful varieties of seasoned writers and readers who all fulfilled their commitment; however, attendance was poor, due, in large part, to being boycotted.
However, by 2005, after a low period, Hernan Bravo initiated a relationship with Balbir Gill and Clearbrook Library to draw the ethnicity of the community through contacts with International Poetry Cafe of Vancouver. Due to Hernan’s absences in his native homeland of Chile, Shelley Haggard took on the project for our society. This became the very successful “Blue Moon Reading Series”.
As founder, I am convinced how important it has been to be present at every monthly event. This proved much to the chagrin of opposition. Experience in a variety of genres made it possible for me to keep open and encourage the original mandate of inclusivity. I did this from 1981 to 2006 – the same year as our 25th anniversary, marked by our anthology, the aforementioned Poetic Spirits of the Valley. As Ken Yates, Parks Director for the City of Abbotsford for almost 30 years, suggested with his words of wisdom in 1981, “it takes twenty years for a group to make its way into the psyche of a community.” To all media, the Abbotsford News and the Abbotsford Times, thank you.
I wish there was a way to thank everyone over the past 30 years. Here are a few more individuals by name who have contributed to PPS: Jaye Low, Thurlow Gowan, the late Lillian Leoppky, the late Len Levitt, Rudy Penner, Trudy Beyak, Margot Wawra, Bob Jones, Mary Winter, Karen Crarey, Hilda Murphy, Stella Johnson, Erin Fisher, Violet Nesdoly, Satwant Pander, Rita Carrington, Dave Farmer, Joe Mrak, Terry Broadworth, Nicholas Roberts, Karen Belix Moore, Paul McKeown, Emily Isaacson, Surjeet Kalsey, Ruth Ann & Rudy Braun, David Shreeves, and so many more. Thanks to all.
Thanks to everyone who gave of their time and shared their words as guest readers of our continuing Blue Moon evenings.
Thanks also to Parks, Recreation and Culture, Abbotsford for having chosen me as one of their recognized volunteers – having established a poetry society. This honour was bestowed by the then Mayor George Ferguson.
As we do our best to write our finest thoughts and strive to speak with the charisms of kings and queens, let us also take heed of a proverbial adage from Leonard Cohen:
“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.”
(Donna would like to thank Erin Fisher for help with preparing this article.)
A Brief History of MSA PPS
MSA PPS was started in 1981 by Donna Bishop. “From childhood, Donna dabbled in creative writing of poetry and drama. But her parents discouraged it as frivolous. And being insecure and shy, she tended to hide what she had created. There were other pressures in her adult life and she felt quite stressed. But in 1976 she ventured into a poetry reading group at the Burnaby Art Gallery. Here, amidst much more experienced and accomplished writers and readers, she read three of her pieces. She received a standing ovation.
About this time she, her husband and their family moved to Abbotsford. Her dream was to start a poetry reading club to give other writers the same opportunity of inspiration and encouragement that she had received in Burnaby.”
The first advertised meeting for a poetry reading club in July, 1981 generated no response but with Donna’s perseverance it grew to a group of twelve by September. And “for twenty-five years she has been a most active organizer, encourager, promoter, visionary and guiding force.”
Since that humble origin PPS has
- sponsored dozens of open mike readings where members and newcomers can read their work
- hosted poetry reading series such as the Blue Moon Series which featured poets drawn from outside the area
- collaborated on various anthologies Valley Poetry, Volumes I & II Colours of Life, Poetic Spirits of the Valley (2006) and the latest volume River of Words (2009).
- staged annual poetry festivals in Mill Lake Park
- celebrated the demise of SE2, a controversial energy project, through word and song
For a more detailed history see the book Poetic Spirits in the Valley ©2006 from which these quotes were drawn.