Friday, November 27, 2015

Meet LAVERNA JOHNSON of Dixie Poets Chapter

President of Utah State Poetry Society 2009-2011, LaVerna Laub Bringhurst Johnson enjoys sharing poetry and encouraging young poets. She is a co-founder and first president of Redrock Writers in St. George and has served as a UTSPS board member, president of Dixie Poets chapter, as editor of the UTSPS publication, Panorama, editor of Redrock╩╝s Chaparral Poetry Forum, and has served on the editorial board of Utah Sings

Poetry in the Park was developed by her while she was UTSPS President and continues now in its seventh year at Zion Park through a partnership with Zion Natural History Association and Zion Field Institute with a UTSPS grant from Division of Arts and Musuems, and National Endowment for the Arts. It's a day long workshop featuring an outstanding visiting poet with participants including scholarshipped high school poets, teachers and poets nationwide. More info available on this year’s PIP program Mar 3-5, 2016 at

LaVerna’s work has been published in Panorama, Irreantum, Nine One One, Encore, Utah Sings, Heritage Writers Anniversary Book, Southern Quill, online at,htm in three chapbooks and numerous newspapers and magazines. Rights to her children's Christmas musical, "Jungle Bells" were sold to McMillan Publishing and money donated to Parker Whitney Elementary school. Other productions and songs have been contributed to worthy causes. What an example and encourager LaVerna continues to be to so many. Her contributions and achievements could fill many pages.

Old Fashioned Cookies

Time was when Grandma’s cookies were
almost synonymous with her.
It was her job (grandchildren’s view)
to hand out hugs and read to you.

A pudding here, a porridge there,
and, unabashedly, gray hair
gave her a look much like my own
but, my Grandma, those days have flown.

Now, Grandma’s working out at gym,
or golf, or tennis—and she’s slim!
I’m out of step, it’s plain to see.
Here, have a cookie. Talk to me!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Meet MAURINE HALTINER of Valley Winds Chapter

Maurine tells us about her life: "A graduate of the University of Utah, I taught English in Salt Lake City for 33 years. I was 2004 UTSPS Poet of the Year with my book A Season and a Time. I also have published a  young adult novel Truth Windows, spotlighting Utah’s Sanpete County. I currently play principal 2nd violin with the Wasatch Community Symphony Orchestra. I have given poetry readings & presented workshops for UTSPS. As participants in the Artists in the Schools program at West High, my students & I created a young adult novel, Torrents of Spring, a rival to Hemingway’s early book of the same name. For me poetry is word-play with serious intentions, even when those intentions provoke a humorous response—hence “Sprinkler Cliff,” my famous seasonal poem. Following a class at Westminster College taught by Boston poet Jill McDonough, I wrote many blank verse poems. “Night in Monterey” is one of those & one of my favorites." Maurine currently serves as our UTSPS secretary.

Night in Monterey

Releasing darkness from their wings, the crows
appear on cue and cross the sky. Their caws
move west from inland trees to mouth of bay.
The sun, once proud distraction, loses light
below a shift of waves and misty hues
of gold and red. I love these migrant crows
that murder day. Death rides upon their wings. 
No longer blind to sound I hear the night,
how water knows its way, rebukes cold cliffs
as hollow cries from gulls defy the wind.
Between each cuff of waves bold silence knows
itself. The sea holds back. The tern is still.
The crows drop down on trees. A thousand eyes
and muted caws attend this brittle peace.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Meet JUDY JOHNS of Ben Lomond Poets Chapter

Judy tells us…”I began writing poetry as a child.  A famous poet once said, ‘All people are born poets. It is not surprising that some people continue writing their whole lives. What is surprising is that so many people have stopped.’ I have always been grateful that I have been able to write my whole life.” Born in Massachusestts, and living in Utah since 1985, Judy joined the UTSPS in the early 90s and was named Utah Poet of the Year in 2003 for her book of poems titled If I could Speak in Silk. In 2004, the same book was awarded the title Best in State in Literature.
A retired college English instructor, Judy also has been a newspaper reporter and free lance writer with articles published in popular magazines. She has two romance novels published with Wildrose Press. These two books as well as her poetry book are available on She serves as the UTSPS Venue Chair for the Poet of the Year presentation, and the Critique Bureau representative. UTSPS members are encouraged to send up to 12 poems (four at a time) a year by email to for personal critique and suggestions on improving your poetry. Also for a fee of $20 a collection of poetry can be critiqued, if you are a paid member. All funds are donated to UTSPS.

Closet Addict      

No one looking at my neutral skirts, shirts and
business  jackets,
would  believe I was anything  but a respectable
Republican grandmother.
But in my heart I am Fergie,
the hip hop rapper, lead singer
of the Black Eyed Peas.
Like a closet addict
I play the CDs in my car alone ,
or with the fifteen- year- old granddaughter
responsible for my addiction.
We cruise down  I- 15 singing, “I’ve gotta feeling”
with the music in the illegal decibel range.
And for the space of the ride, I am 15 again.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Meet STEVEN LEITCH of the Valley Winds Chapter

Steven H. Leitch, Utah resident since 1973, has been a member of the Utah State Poetry Society(UTSPS) for over 15 years. He has had poetry published in Utah Sings, Panorama, Poet Tree, and The Deadeye News (an Army publication), various online poetry sites and has received numerous local and national poetry recognitions and awards. He resides with his wife, Deanna, in West Jordan and is a current UTSPS board member serving as our mailing coordinator. A veteran of the United States Air Force (1969-1973), he graduated from Weber State College (1978), where he received a BS degree in Art and Photography.  He also served in the US Army Reserve from 1979-2009 as an Army photographer, journalist, public affairs specialist and first sergeant. In 2013 he retired from the University of Utah’s School of Medicine, where he served as a staff photographer for 37 years.

Hailstones by Steven Leitch

Crumpled sheets of paper like hailstones                                                                                          
cover most of the walking area of the tent floor.
Empty paper coffee cups and ashtrays
full of half-smoked cigarettes litter
the table by his old Royal typewriter.

He sleeps on the cot nearby, and dreams
of Coney Island.
He smells the cotton candy,
can almost taste its sweet, fluffy nectar.
He is far from this tent, this country, this war.

The boom of close artillery
rocks him back to reality.
He gets ups and starts again.
It’s his duty to write home
to the parents of  boys killed
in his company,
a skill not taught at West Point.

Having been in-country for three months,
he hardly knew his officers,
let alone his soldiers.
Now here he is in his hooch,
pecking out words on his old Royal
to comfort the family of a son,
to people he will never see,
about a soldier he hardly knew.

The rattle of the AK-47* is very much like
the tap of that old typewriter. Clack, Clack, Clack!
Paper ripping from its carriage sounds like
the launch of a mortar. Ziiipp!
Hail storms in Vietnam?

*AK-47-Russian made automatic rifle, extensively used by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam Conflict-because of its construction it emitted a recognizable clacking sound.