In May 1923, a small group of poets who wanted to stimulate an interest in poetry in the Commonwealth met in the Chapel of the Wren Building at the College of William & Mary. The group drafted a constitution and bylaws for the organization and named it The Poetry Society of Virginia. Dr. Charles N. Feidelson served as the new organization's first president.
Through publications, member readings, visiting poets, contests, workshops, in-school programs, festivals, and other activities, PSV has deepened the appreciation of poetry throughout Virginia communities.
Visiting poets have included Robert Frost, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Carl Sandburg, Richard Wilbur, Donald Hall, Charles Wright—and more recently, Gregory Orr, Dorianne Laux, Joseph Millar, Jesse Graves, Tim Seibles, Margaret Mackinnon, Dan and Suzanne Stryk, and Jane Ellen Glasser. Membership in the society has grown to over 400, with about 15% of members living outside of Virginia.
Our organization has been instrumental in assisting the Governor of Virginia with the selection of Poet Laureate. An appointed PSV committee makes recommendations to the organization’s elected President who then forwards nominations to the Governor for his final review and decision.
PSV's historical archives are housed in the special collections repositories at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia.
What We Value
As a cornerstone organization in Virginia's cultural heritage, we uplift poetry as a powerful means of connection, a living chronicle of the human experience, and a vehicle for expanding language.
We believe in:
Craft and Creativity: promoting the writing craft with workshops, readings, and events that inspire and engage poets of all levels.
Literary Advocacy: championing the recognition of poets, and advocating for policies and initiatives that support and promote poetry across Virginia.
Community: fostering a vibrant and inclusive community of poets and poetry lovers, who bond, collaborate, and share values.
Curation: stewarding Virginia's rich literary history, ensuring it is accessible to future generations.
The Power of Language: pushing the boundaries of language, encouraging poets to explore new forms, styles, and perspectives.
The Poetry Society of Virginia is a dedicated nonprofit organization advancing poetry across our great state and beyond. We are building a vibrant and inclusive poetic community, where poetry thrives as a bridge between individuals, communities, institutions, and cultures.
Join in our quest to elevate the power of poetry and make Virginia's poetic legacy an enduring source of inspiration and connection.
Collectively, we're writing the story of Virginia's literary history, one verse, one poem, one poet at a time.
"It was only when I gave myself away...
that I began to find myself. Service, I have learned, is where true happiness lies. It has provided me with a compassion that I didn’t have in my youth. It has permitted me to walk in the shoes of many and feel the warmth of their feet as well as the pebbles that injure them. I have found that cheerfulness, kindness, and helpfulness bring as much joy to the ones who extend them as those who receive them—perhaps a great deal more.”
Naomi Long Madgett
b. 1923 in Norfolk, VA
Meet Our President
Cherryl T. Cooley
Cherryl T. Cooley speaks at conferences, festivals, and organizations as a branding, narrative and digital content expert. She has worked as a poet, journalist, marcomm manager, enterprise storyteller, content experience designer and narrative strategist for government, corporations and nonprofits. As a poet, she and her work have been featured at the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts, Museum of Modern Art, in Essence and Poetry magazines, and on The Oprah Show. She lives, works and loves from Northern Virginia, USA.
Board of Directors
Cherryl Cooley, President Cathy Hailey, VP, Northern Region John Berry, VP, Northwestern Region David Anthony Sam, VP North Central Region Joanna Lee, VP Central Region Jorge Mendez, VP, Southeastern Region Christina Linsin, VP, Western Region Nathan Richardson, Publicity Chair Dasha Kelly Hamilton, Ex-Officio Teri Elam, Ex-Officio Jodi Barnes, Ex Officio
Previous PSV Presidents
Dr. Charles N. Feidelson, 1923 Virginia Taylor McCormick Francis Macon Robert M. Hughes Virginia Lyne Tunstall Julia Johnson Davis Florence Dickinson Stearns Emma Gray Trigg John Richard Moreland Brodie Herndon Carleton Drewry Barbara Whitney Leslie Jones Dr. Arthur Stocker Dr. Roberta Cornelius 1950 Harry Meacham Bess Gresham Louis Carlton Dr. Keith Crim Alf. J. Mapp, Jr. Ellen Anderson Lorraine Smith Dr. Bruce Souders Dr. James McNally Joseph Awad J. Pendleton Campbell Ron Smith 1999-2000 Tom Russell 2002-2003 Ed Lull 2003-2007 Shirley Sellers 2007-2008 Patsy Anne Bickerstaff 2008-2012 Nancy Powell 2012-2013 Judith Bragg 2013-2014 Guy Terrell 2014-2015 Robert Arthur 2015-2019 Jeff Hewitt 2019-Feb. 2020 Derek Kannemeyer Feb. 2020-May 2021 Terry Cox-Joseph May, 2021-2023 Cherryl T. Cooley July 2023 -
PSV Advisory Board
Catherine Fletcher, Writer, Sound Artist, Producer A. Van Jordan, Stanford University Professor and poet Jessica Care Moore, Publisher, Poet, Producer
PRESIDENT PRO TEMPORE
David Anthony Sam
NORTH CENTRAL REGION VP
David Anthony Sam
NORTHERN REGION VP
NORTHWEST REGION VP
CENTRAL REGION VP
EASTERN REGION VP
SOUTHEAST REGION VP
WESTERN REGION VP
W. David Hubbard
Committee Chairs & Program Directors
MEMBERSHIP & ELECTIONS CHAIR
FINANCE COMMITTEE CHAIR
PUBLIC RELATIONS CHAIR
SOCIAL MEDIA CHAIR
Samantha Boateng Habada
PSV ADULT CONTESTS CHAIRS
Contest Submissions Manager: Derek Kannemeyer
PSV ANNUAL FESTIVAL CHAIR
PSV NORTH AMERICAN POETRY BOOK AWARD CHAIR
POETRY IN THE SCHOOLS
PSV YOUNG POETS IN THE COMMUNITY
Grey Hues, Miko Marsh
Sources of Generous Support
Our work is made possible through strong partnerships and generous donations from loyal donors and arts funders. We appreciate the support and belief in our mission, and are grateful that these allies assist us in cultivating and advancing Virginia's poetry.