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…)

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 …)

Cut, Copy, Paste

April is National Poetry Month and we’ll be sharing a variety of “locally grown” poetry with you over the next four issues of OLLI Connects. And you’ll be able to enjoy it all from the comfort of your home computer. Or on your smartphone.  On the sofa. With your feet up.

It wasn’t always this easy to make poetry available to OLLI members.  Let Ara take you back to the distant past of the previous millennium and remind you of how it used to be done. — Editor

Ara Rogers

“Hans wants to produce a book of poems by his class. I told him you would work on this with him.”

It was early 1996 and I was working with the Learning in Retirement Institute as a part-time graduate assistant. Hans Juergensen had retired several years earlier, and he was a “get” for LIR. Hired in 1961 as faculty in the Humanities, Hans had been a consultant to the Nobel Prize Committee on Literature, and was an esteemed poet. Lee, renowned for her arm-twisting abilities, had worked on Hans for a while to get him to try teaching for LIR, a program now in its second year. Hans agreed to focus on poetry writing.  (More…)

The Adventures of Leslie Merriweather

Marilyn Myerson

Leslie Merriweather’s dream slipped from his grasp as he tried in vain to capture it. There was a retreating glimpse of colour and a vague hint of scent. But, alas, the fragments dissolved, and all was lost. Day 180 of dreams forgotten. On his 95th birthday six months ago, his beloved nephew Jeremy had gifted him with a dream diary. “Try it, Uncle Les; you never know what you might dredge up; you might even remember where you buried that gold.”

Not that Jeremy, his only heir, was greedy, but that he knew his uncle fretted about losing the memory of the treasure’s location. Truth be told, Jeremy was not completely sure there even had been any gold to begin with. Leslie was full of stories of how it had been in the old days. From his youth, Jeremy was fascinated by his uncle spinning tales of his adventurous past. As he grew older, though, Jeremy began to wonder how much was real, how much was fanciful.  (More …)

Dad’s Dog Tags

Diane Henrikson Russell

A week into 2021, I received a short message from Alan Carlson, the OLLI Connects Editor. Somebody had written a comment on my 2018 OLLI Connects story about Santa Claus. Who would comment on it two years later? Alan sent the comment for me to read before posting it.

The comment read: “Dear Diane, I try to contact you on your Facebook message about your dad. Hope you can see and read it! Kind regards, Sam.”

I checked Messenger and, sure enough, there was a message from Sam with two blurred images. In this age of mistrust and online scamming, I did not open the images and chose not to reply through Messenger.

Instead, I emailed Sam with the following message:  (More…)

Nudge

Peter Terzian

Here I am, miles away from Earth on the space ship Astra Zenica.  I’ve been here before with other friends.  This time it was to help them avoid a small disaster.

Normally, I’m in a home office, or the garage, or in one of several schools or theaters… looking, listening, helping.  They always need help.  Sometimes they listen.  Sometimes they don’t.  Most of the time, actually, they don’t listen. One friend is particularly astute at responding to my help. He gets an idea, knows what he needs, but doesn’t know where to look. I simply nudge him in the right direction and there it is!  He smiles.

One time I was checking on one of my friends, when he caught me on his new security camera. I knew about his old cell phones aimed out his front and back doors, and avoided being seen on those.  I didn’t know that he had bought a new camera that he found on the bargain table in a department store.  That one has night vision!  Now he can see me move about even in the dark!  (More…)

Shoes and Scarves

Ray Ann Favata

So Many Shoes, Only Two Feet

Yesterday was an excellent day to purge shoes. Gone are the worn, out of style, physically challenging stilettos, and just plain ugly “What were you thinking?” shoes.

Didn’t we enjoy the Carrie Bradshaw series, Sex in the City, where we longed to afford and wear the beautiful shoes featured each week? I’m here to share that my 42 pairs of shoes seem reserved compared to the shoe addiction portrayed by the show’s actresses.

My mom used to justify her extensive collection of shoes by saying that a woman should not be criticized for the number of shoes she owned as long as she did not have more pairs than her age. Theoretically, I could have 77 pairs of happiness. The truth is that I don’t need that many shoes. At 77 years of age, my feet, knees, and balance dictate my choices in chic, comfortable, and not too pricey footwear.

Why do women love shoes so much?  (More…)

Bored?

Ray Ann Favata

Musings of One Tampa Chica

Sometimes I’m so consciously aware of how bored I am. The immediate realization is how often I wander to the refrigerator. There I stand in front of the open door pondering what on earth I could eat that would feed the void I’m feeling.

Nothing on Netflix, HBO, or the Hallmark Channel grabs my attention. I feel like I’m wasting time, killing brain cells, or missing opportunities to do something, even though I don’t know what that something is. It is times like this that I think about learning how to knit or crochet.

Now don’t think I have nothing to do. I fill the days of the month with plenty of activities – volunteering, OLLI-USF classes, committees, and board of director meetings, places to go, people to see, and things to do. So what is it that makes me feel so unproductive and bored?  (More..)

Walking In a COVID-19 Wonderland

Diane Henrikson Russell

I drove over nine speed bumps daily on a major street in my subdivision as I impatiently commuted to my USF Career Counselor job, which was 21 miles away. I barely gave the homes or the intersecting streets a glance as I focused on my destination in the pre-dawn hours.

Fast forward from August 2014 to Fall 2020: I now leisurely stroll along the sidewalks of that same street as I watch impatient commuters drive over those same speed bumps.

The stark contrast in my change of pace was not caused by retirement. The COVID-19 virus has made walking a safe and enjoyable way to exercise outdoors while we “vulnerable” folks try to remain isolated from others and still exist on the planet.

Walking has been my preferred method of exercise for decades. As a USF employee, I strolled the sidewalks of the Tampa campus on breaks and at lunchtime. Before moving to Brandon, I even walked to and from work when I lived 1.5 miles away from the campus. I lost my campus walking routine as a retiree, but last year I began walking on the outdoor track at Bay Care Health Hub in nearby Valrico.  (More...)