Mississippi Poetry Society
Mississippi Poetry Society  


Application Form (pdf)

Affiliated with the National Federation of State Poetry Societies

Mississippi Poetry Society is a 501c3 nonprofit organization and is the official poetry society of Mississippi.  

The MPS is a group of professional and aspiring poets dedicated to promoting poetry, educating the public, assisting our poet and writer members in areas of greater writing skill and publication awareness.   Among our activities and opportunities are meetings, readings, workshops, contests, festivals and community outreach.

MPS was founded in 1932 with eleven charter members at Belhaven College in Jackson, and was first called Belhaven Poetry Society. Miss Elizabeth Newman, head of the English Department at Belhaven, was the first (honorary) president. Its objectives were: “to make citizens’ poetry conscious, to awaken in young people the desire to write poetry, to collect and preserve in anthologies the best poetry produced in Mississippi, and to bring it to the attention of readers outside our own borders.” The first elected president was Anne-Elise Roane Winter, who designed the MPS emblem, a shield with three silver stars on a dark blue vaulted sky, bearing the Latin phrase, “Ad Astra,” (toward the stars). The first meetings were held in the Municipal Art Gallery in Jackson. William Alexander Percy of Greenville, cousin and adoptive father of Walkr Percy, was an early member.

Mississippi Poetry Society holds an annual Spring Contest each year. Cash awards are provided by sponsors who donate prize money and specify the particulars of the contest they wish to sponsor.  The contests are open to the public, and prizes are awarded at our Spring Festival.  We invite sponsors for our annual spring contest.  

Each year MPS publishes a journal of its winning contest poetry.

Brenda’s book, Horn Island Vista, is now available at $10.00 plus $3.00 shipping per book. Please indicate if you would like the book personalized or just autographed.

Horn Island Vista

Orders for Brenda's book can be placed by emailing her at
brendafinnegan@ymail.com or ordering by mail.

Mail checks or money orders to her at:
Brenda Finnegan
5713 Belle Fontaine Dr.
Ocean Springs, MS 39564
Brenda Brown Finnegan
Mississippi Poetry Society
2020-21 Poet of the Year

Brenda Finnegan

Mississippi Poetry Society President, Linda Owen, has announced MPS-South Branch member Brenda Brown Finnegan as its 2020 Poet of the Year, granting her the privilege of having a chapbook of her poems published by the society.

Brenda Brown Finnegan was born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi to Rita Mordica Brown and W. W. “Bill” Brown, the second oldest of eight children. She attended Sacred Heart School in Hattiesburg from first through twelfth grade, graduating in 1960. She briefly attended night school at Mississippi Southern College (later the University of Southern Mississippi) while working for Interstate Electric in Hattiesburg.

Her marriage to her high school sweetheart, Martin Finnegan, newly discharged from the Air Force, resulted in a move to Starkville, where her husband attended Mississippi State University and she worked in the AG Economics department transcribing field notes from farmers for publications. In 1964, they relocated with their infant son to Jackson County, where they have lived since. They reared their three children, Kenneth, Natalie and Darren in Pascagoula, where they lived for 25 years. While in Pascagoula, she worked as a school crossing guard with the Pascagoula Police Department and was a stringer (reporter) at The Daily Herald, now The Sun Herald. She also worked as an elementary school secretary for over 15 years. Besides their three children, they fostered two children (ages 4 & 6) for two years in the 1980's, with whom they still keep in touch.

She began attending college classes again in 1976 when her youngest son started kindergarten, often arriving in her patrol uniform straight from school crossing duties. In 1984, she graduated from the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and in 1987, she completed her studies at the University of Southern Mississippi, graduating with her oldest son, Kenneth in Hattiesburg. They accepted their diplomas from Dr. Aubrey Lucas, her mother’s former boss at USM. Her mother was delighted to attend that ceremony!

She became interested in writing poetry in the early 1980s and encouraged by her friend, Sue Wright Entrekin of Gautier, joined the Mississippi Poetry Society as well as Writers Unlimited, a group for writers of all genres in Jackson County.

She and her husband, Martin, a Permanent (ordained) Deacon in the Catholic church, moved to Belle Fontaine Beach in Ocean Springs in 1991, when he became director of religious education and associate pastor at St. Elizabeth Seton Church, until his retirement.

A writer of poetry, fiction and nonfiction, she is a charter member of the MPS South Branch and she has served as president, vice-president, treasurer and secretary, as well as president of MPS. Her poetry collection, Missing Persons, was published by the state society in 2001 when she won the first MPS Poet of the Year award. She also received a Lifetime Achievement award from MPS.

She has been published in several journals, including MPS awards journals and anthologies, and in Mississippi Magazine, The Magnolia Quarterly, Coastlines, Back Porch, The Texas Review, Boyne Berries 5 in County Meath, Ireland, in Encore, the contest journal of the National Federation of State Poetry Societies, and her poetry has been recognized in Writers Digest magazine’s contests. She has also been published in several Gulf Coast Writers Association’s non-fiction anthologies and contests and met the late Willie Morris who spoke at the first GCWA contest awards ceremony.

Although their home on Belle Fontaine Beach in Jackson County washed away in Hurricane Katrina in 2005, in 2013, the year they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, they rebuilt on their lot on Belle Fontaine Beach, and named their new home, The Last Resort.

Brenda and her husband love to travel and have taken five of their six grandchildren on individual vacations to many places including the Grand Canyon, Colorado, Idaho, Niagara Falls, Mackinaw Island on Lake Michigan, a diamond mine in Arkansas, Okeefenokee Swamp and Jekyll Island in Georgia. They hope to take their youngest granddaughter on her trip after Martin’s cancer treatment is complete. They have also traveled to Italy, Ireland, and Canada, as well as several trips to Mexico on mission trips with their church.


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