Your Assignment, Should You Decide to Accept it…

Marilyn Myerson

Marilyn Myerson leads and mentors creative writing groups, encouraging them to push the envelope of their imaginations while staying in control of the theme.  She frequently has them to write short stories that explore a specific idea.  And she leads by example.

Today’s two stories are both by Marilyn.  One puts a twist on a hoary cliché.  The other speculates on what could happen, if the leader of a creative writing group were not quite who she seemed to be.  –Editor


Cliché: A Shaggy Dog Story

Myrtle van Crapen, resident of Tampa, Florida, shared her abode with three dogs. Two of her canine housemates were Bucky and Bolty, Heinz 57 mutts who nonetheless spoke quite passable English.  (More…)

And Now for Something . . . a Little Bit Different

Theresa D’Aiuto Sokol

OLLI Connects is almost three years old, and in its short lifetime, we have shared a wide variety of your fellow OLLI members’ contributions: powerful  stories, rich personal experiences, fascinating nuggets of history, and humor.  We’ve taken you on trips to other parts of the United States and journeys to other parts of the world.  We’ve shared technology, book reviews, poetry and more.  We’ve had posts that were all photographs with no more words than were needed for context.

But we’ve not had a post that was almost all video.  Until today.

Theresa D’Aiuto Sokol has shared two of her blog posts, and now she shares some of her video work.   (More…)

Three Wishes

Marilyn Myerson

It was the old standard – boy meets girl, boy loses girl, and the kicker, boy finds girl, – but, was it really the same old same old?

The boy in question is Benji, the girl is Jeannie.  Benji met Jeannie at a conference for mining engineers. He was new to the field and had ventured to these meetings to pursue job opportunities. Jeannie was something of an anomaly in the profession: she had been the only female in her graduating class. In her first few years of establishing herself, it was no surprise that she was met with sexist skepticism. As the years went on, however, more women entered the field and their presence was gradually accepted.

Jeannie was now at the peak of her career – she was a well-published author, the recipient of professional honours, and an executive in her firm.  (More…)

Armchair Traveling with Books

Lucinda Page Knox

In various book group posts, I’ve read numerous requests for recommendations for “beach reads for summer.” There are always the recommendations for authors like Elin Hilderbrand, who sets many of her books in Nantucket. Ditto Nancy Thayer and others who use similar locations. However, why limit the settings of summer reading to the beach? Why not travel via books to an Italian fishing village/resort, a flower garden in Germany, a cottage in the Welsh countryside – or even to a besieged castle?

THE ENCHANTED APRIL by Elizabeth von Armin (born Mary Annette Beauchamp) is a wonderful escape to a “small medieval Italian Castle on the shores of the Mediterranean” for the month of April. Mrs. Wilkins, who finds a newspaper ad for the castle in her London woman’s club on a dreary February  (More…)

Reflections of a Former Joke-Writer for Joan Rivers

Robert Strozier

Now that I’ve reached the age of 80, a milestone year if ever there was one, I thought it’d be a fitting time to revisit some moments from my life as a writer—for better or for worse.

Let’s bypass the rave reviews I received from my parents for a play I wrote and starred in at nine, Detective Dick, and skip along to 1964. I’d just graduated from the University of Chicago with a B.A. in Humanities and was living with a friend in Berkeley, California.

I decided to launch my freelance career by writing poems and greeting card ideas—two surefire money makers. Some poems got published, most suffered a less happy fate. As in: “Sorry we won’t be able to use your poem, but we did like parts and particles of it.” The word “the” in the second line of the third stanza, I surmised, the third syllable of the eighth word in the fifth line of the second stanza, the…  (More…)

National Poetry Month 2021 – The Finale

We hope you’ve enjoyed the poetry we’ve been able to share with you in our past three issues.  National Poetry Month for this year is almost over, but you don’t have to give up poetry until next April rolls around.  Check out our Events and Resources page. While April has seen a surge in poetic activity, there are many events and resources that celebrate poetry all year long.

And while you’re being inspired by the poetry of others, we hope you’ll also be “inspired” to write some poetry of your own.  And give us the chance to publish it next year.  We’re OLLI Connects, not the Lithuanian Literary Gazette.  Our purpose is to give OLLI-USF members an opportunity to share their creativity.  Hmmm…, make that your creativity! So, let’s give you a little more inspiration right now.  (More…)

National Poetry Month 2021 – Part Three

What makes a good poem? Melissa Donovan tried to answer that question, and you can read her thoughts here. But before you dash off to get someone else’s opinion, pause for a moment and think about what aspects of a poem make you say, “Now, this is a good poem!” 

Is it economy of language?  Not a single word in it that isn’t critical to its wholeness?  Imagery?  Words that paint vivid pictures?  Powerful language that moves you?  A sense of sound  and rhythm that makes reading the poem aloud an experience far beyond just seeing the words on paper?  Authenticity?  The sense that this poet is sharing a powerful and private truth with you?

Got some thoughts?  Good!  Take them with you as you enjoy this week’s issue.  (More…)

National Poetry Month 2021 – Part Two

We can’t actually take you to a live Poetry Slam or introduce you to Nikki Giovanni, but we want to broaden the way you usually think of poetry.  In this issue, we’ve added more OLLI members reading their favorite poetry aloud.  If you missed  seeing and hearing Shelly Belzer and Simone Leal last week, you can catch up now.  And enjoy another poem from Shelly plus a reading from Dylan Thomas by Barbara Brown.  You’ll find the link to that and more at the end of today’s issue.

But, wait!  There’s more!  Can you say “ekphrasis“? Two of our poems for this week bring in works of art by Vermeer and Dali as their inspiration.  The poems, in and of themselves, are powerful.  Seeing the paintings that inspired them makes them even more so.  So, join us today for a multi-media poetry issue.  (More…)

National Poetry Month 2021

Academy of American Poets

“Launched by the Academy of American Poets in April 1996, National Poetry Month reminds the public that poets have an integral role to play in our culture and that poetry matters. Over the years, it has become the largest literary celebration in the world, with tens of millions of readers, students, K–12 teachers, librarians, booksellers, literary events curators, publishers, families, and, of course, poets, marking poetry’s important place in our lives. In 2021, the Academy of American Poets looks forward to celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of this annual celebration!”

OLLI-USF has a  strong tradition of studying and celebrating poetry and other literature.  So, for National Poetry Month, we’ll be showcasing our own poets, while also linking your to celebrations of poetry nationwide.  And, for something new to OLLI Connects, we’ll feature OLLI members reading some of their favorite poetry aloud.  Look for it on our special Poetry Month Resources page.  You’ll find a link to it at the end of this issue’s poems.  (More…)

Poetry Month Begins

National Poetry Month for 2021 begins today. And you’ll find so much great poetry in the next four issues of OLLI Connects that you may suspect Shakespeare has quietly moved in next door.  But, although we appreciate the Bard, he’s not one of our contributors.  The poetry that you’ll enjoy–that you’ll experience–has been created by poets in our area, often by OLLI members you know.

This isn’t just a local celebration of poetry, though.  It’s National Poetry Month, and there are events taking place around the country.  And, thanks to the power of the Internet, we can connect you to some of them.  (More …)