All in a line: Greenwich Pen Women ready for new poetry book

As the group of women sat around the table, paper and pens before them, their discussion focused on the steps necessary to bring a book of poems from mere concept to bound reality.
"We want a little jewel of a book," said Deborah Weir, a Greenwich resident and member of the Greenwich Branch of the National League of American Pen Women. She is chairwoman of the branch's book committee, which is coordinating a national poetry contest. The end result of the competition will be a book of about 80 to 90 poems titled "Women's Voices of the 21st Century: Experiences That Shape Women."
"It is a very broad theme, but a compelling one," Weir said.
A panel of judges, made up of local authors and branch members, will select the poems.

"We undertook the contest to encourage women to write," said Weir, who is a published author herself, having written the 2005 nonfiction book "Timing the Market." "The theme has captured the imagination of some women who have never written poetry before. They are submitting their first poems ever and that is very gratifying."
This will be the second time in 20 years that the branch has published a book of poetry. The last one came out in 1992, titled "Women's Voices of the '90s."
As then-president Carla Wallach (who is one of judges for the current project in addition to Mary Ann Hoberman and Marion White) wrote in that book's introduction, the publication offered league members from across the country an "opportunity to express themselves in these turbulent, historic times."
Full of the "hopes and fears," "the dreams and disappointments" and the "loves and losses that are all part of the human experience," the poems reflected the era. During a recent meeting at the Greenwich home of committee member and branch president Joyce French, the group mused about what topics, experiences and feelings might resonate with today's women.
"That to me is the joy of this project," committee member Marie Amoruso said prior to the meeting. "We are getting the voices of women through their poetry. Those voices and feelings will carry the generations forward."
Amoruso, who lives in Pocantico Hills in Westchester County, N.Y., said she has always been impressed by the depth a poet can achieve with such a concise style.
"With very few words, they ... get to the feelings and innermost longings," she said.
The contest is open to published authors who are members of the National League of American Pen Women by the contest deadline of Oct. 1. The entry fee is $10 per poem, with a limit of 10 poems.
There also are cash prizes -- $500 for first prize, $200 each for two second-place finishers and $100 each for two third-place finishers.
The Greenwich Branch of the National League of American Pen Women, is a nonprofit organization of women artists, writers and composers that was founded in 1955. The national league got its start in 1897.
Those interviewed said the poetry contest has had the effect of pulling the branch closer. Artists of the group, for instance, will be submitting line drawings for various points within the book, and many group members, whether poets or otherwise, have volunteered to help.
"It's not often that all of our disciplines work together," Weir said. "As you know, we are somewhat loners in our craft. Many join the organization for the community."
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