Al: Every year we end our OLLI Connects publication run with a look back at some of our favorite articles. In the past I’ve had that pleasurable task all to myself. This year, there are two of us, Theresa, so let’s see how we do as a team. Any ideas on how we should proceed?
Theresa: Let’s go by category with each of us choosing a favorite article and explaining our choice. Let’s start with Fiction–purely creative writing. We’ve had a number of good stories, but I think “The Hurricane” by Mary Bowers tops the list. It was a great adventure tale all along and then turned our expectations upside-down at the end.
Al: I agree. If we were giving prizes rather than just discussing what caught our interest this past year, Mary’s story would be the clear winner in the Fiction section. Now, what about our To Tell the Truth contest? Fiction–in many cases–that pretends to be an authentic personal experience.
My choice would be “Midnight Rescue Mission” by Neil Cosentino. The plot was believable, the writing was often poetic, the technical jargon was convincing, and the link to the real memorial in Tampa at the end gave it an extra punch.
Theresa: I fully agree. Since you did the entire edit for Neil’s story, I deliberately waited until it went live to read it. And it blew me away. With its intensely visual descriptions, technical clarity and engaging storyline, this entry was a hat trick. I would like to award Honorable Mention to Patricia Antolino’s My Champion. Who wouldn’t want to have an experience like that?
Al: I’ll buy that. What’s our next category?
Theresa: Let’s go with Personal Experience. An event the author lived through and recreated for us in a convincing and moving manner. And my choice is Beryl Byles’ “911: My Story”. It brought back so many memories. I may be biased here. I was also trapped in Canada in the 1970s, albeit for a different reason. What’s your choice?
Al: My favorite one there is Junia Ancaya’s “Silver Wedding Anniversary”. Given all that she and her family had gone through up until then, it was wonderful that the event could happen at all. Next category?
Theresa: Humor. And in that category, I love Bruce Zimmerman’s “The Lighthouse Beam Went Off”. Like Mary Bowers story, the surprise ending made a good story a great one. Your choice?
Al: Bob Strozier’s “A Fish Tale”. It brought back my own memories of fishing as a child on mighty Lake Mitchell, and it unashamedly used technical angling terms such as Wiggle Warts, Ripple Rats, and Whopper-stopper Poppers.
Now, let’s step away from “words in a row” for a moment. Which of our Photography-centric articles really caught your attention?
Theresa: It’s not photography, but I particularly loved Two Artists in Residence. How fortunate we are to be able to showcase the work of Judy K. Patterson and M.A. Sinnhuber and to experience Judy’s musings on the stages of her artistic life as well as her focus on its meaning now that she is “So Old.”
Al: Once again we agree. Now, we devoted almost a month to Poetry. Did any of the poems we published really grab you and pull you in?
Theresa: For me it was Margaret Ryan’s Two Poems and Sunlight in Five Haiku. The ekphrastic poem Vermeer Remastered delighted my senses and tickled my brain with its skillful construction and pictorial language. And it sent me to the dictionary!
Al: Excellent choices! For me it was Joyce Carpenter reading her own poem “Remembrance”. I smile and tear up a little every time I hear it. Choose another category, while I get a tissue.
Theresa: Political Commentary. I was very moved by Junia Ancaya’s A Trip to Ukraine. Taken in the context of the Russian invasion, her journey back in time and the memories it evoked was tragically bittersweet.
Al: I enjoyed all of Don Menzel’s articles, but I guess his “US-China Relations: The Ukranian Shadow” pulled me in the most.
Not everything we’ve published falls into some tidy category. I don’t know how to categorize it, but there’s one that just stands out for me.
Theresa: Let me guess, because I think we completely agree on this one: our “Three Odes to Women” issue with independent pieces by Morrey Grymes, Bruce Zimmerman, and Peter Terzian that just fit perfectly together.
Al: Right the first time! Now, can I mention one without you getting mad at me?
Theresa: Well, OK. You’re 700 miles away, so you’re safe.
Al: I really like the research and data presentation in our final Climate Change post. Now, who did that? Theresa Somebody, I think. Anyway, it was awesome.
Theresa: Never heard of her. Is she one of our new writers? Speaking of new writers, someone–I can’t remember who–did this cool mashup of poetry and folklore called “The Crafting of Mjollnir”. We should have run it during Poetry Month, but he took forever to finish it. Worth the wait, though.
I don’t think we can wrap up the year without mentioning Marilyn Myerson and her Imaginative Crew of writers. Marilyn alone delighted us with quirky tales about a time traveling amoeba, angels and butterflies. And she continues to support and inspire others like Mary Bowers and Linda Ho, just to name a few.
And finally, what about a nod to cuisine? Not only did we feature a series of food related blogs for the holiday season, but we also learned how to grow tomatoes and make apple cake. I give Jane Applegate Belzer the edge for Notes from the Rabbit Hole. Persistence and skill personified.
Al: It’s been a pretty good year, hasn’t it? I’m looking forward to what we encounter in 2023.
Theresa: Well, 2023 is “just around the corner”; let’s get to work!