National Poetry Month

National Poetry Month is a celebration of poetry that takes place in April every year.  It was introduced in 1996, organized by the Academy of American Poets as a way to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry in the United States.  Their web site is a good place to find information about local poetry events during the month.  Which are pretty thin on the ground this year.   But we’ve got you covered with two small, intimate poetry “events” every week.


America 1974

Spraddled on the age-clumped mattress
Parked on the chill floor
Of a student flat,
In Orono, Maine,
The chemical smell of a
New shower curtain
Seeping under the bathroom door
I consider the difference a plane flight makes.

Beside me, you,
A stranger to strangeness
Sleeping, untroubled as always,
Make me wonder
If this journey was a sad mistake.

I sneer at cars
The size of boats
But you grin
And save our money
To buy your own car-boat.

On campus, nameless people
Smile and say ‘Hi”
In bright American voices.
I swivel my eyes
And cringe at the familiarity.
You exult in greetings
Especially from pretty women.

You revel in difference
But want to be absorbed.
I cling to what I know.
I dread the loosening
Of those boundaries
Which fasten me to before.

I yearn for a family dinner
A familiar accent
The face of my father who is ill
You never think of
Or speak of
Or dream of
The stones of ancient buildings
Or friends
Or home.

–Joyce Carpenter


I bear within me, deep
                  after Yoga Nidra with Martha

I bear within me, deep
my own ocean of swirling silence
dissolving the calcified reef of old stories

I tell myself

I am whole—gasp
draw legs to chest
curl in the cave

salt flavors silence

stalagmites, stalactites—breath—in
jellyfish, eagle—breath—out
sun, water, mountains

in darkness, the eye sees

I soar—the majesty of trees
land on my own two talons—
stand naked—wind raising hairs

a nubile shoot

~Victoria Dym



I semi-wake in the artificial cold
of a Florida morning.
I feel the empty space beside me.
Call your name.
A decade and a half,
and still I reach.
I wake in my recliner,
And you’re there,
hair flopped over brow,
brown liquid eyes
teasing me.
You enter my brain.
We discuss.
We always called it discuss.
A milli-second.
I dream,
hold your sinewy hands,
hear your tenor voice,
your uneven laugh,
feel your arms.

I wake.

–Lydia Gallucci Lombardo


Back Porch Puzzle

My puzzle sits spread out
on the big, round table
on my screened-in porch
surrounded by my private jungle.
Woodpeckers, squirrels,
fence-walking cats, voracious vines;
the jays and squirrels
scolding each other like fishwives.
But the puzzle just sits there
oblivious, waiting for me to
find the next piece:
the chipmunk’s elusive nose,
that piece of curly green leaf that I’m sure
some fiendish puzzle-maker left out,
the bird’s missing feathers–
in the puzzle, not outside.
Out there, the birds have all
their feathers, as far as I can tell.
They all go about their business,
emptying my feeder,
calling to each other as if
nothing was wrong with
this crazy, upside-down world
we’re living in right now,
as I sit there trying to find
that chipmunk’s damn nose.

 –Ceci LaDuca


Medicare for Me?

Medicare for me? How can that be?
I was the miracle baby.
Singing and dancing,
And, when Santa came, prancing.
Was a sister at six and at ten, just for kicks.
From the Chiefs to the Warriors to the Illini I cheered,
And then I counseled to allay career fears.
I sang solos and duets in full voice,
Then sang in quartets and choirs – my own choice.
Family and friends say I haven’t changed a bit…
Still singing and cheering, and I’m not going to quit.
I welcome 65 with laughter and glee,
For, despite wrinkles and aches, I am still me.

–Diane Russell

New OLLI SIG  OLLI-USF welcomes you to our new online poetry-writing community: Write Time for Poets. Twice a month, join us in our videoconferencing room – your creative space to work on your poems-in-progress and/or practice timed writing in response to prompts. We meet for 90 minutes on the 2nd and 4th Thursday each month from 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. starting May 14.

Contact Cath Mason for details.

Joyce Carpenter studied drama at college in England and has degrees in special education and social work. She joined OLLI-USF in 2010, has taken OLLI courses in literature poetry, history, improv, and reader’s theater and has co-taught drama courses for OLLI. She is a member of the great books and the poetry groups.  Joyce will be teaching a summer course with Brenda Tipps: How to Read Poetry Aloud for Inspiration and Fun.

Lydia Gallucci Lombardo:  Long-time Great Books participant Lydia Lombardo has taken OLLI courses in literature, writing, and history. She recently took part in OLLI-USF’s  blended learning pilot and enjoyed its hybrid content: art appreciation, memoir and poetry.

Victoria Dym is a graduate of Ringling Brother’s Barnum and Bailey Clown College with a degree in Humility. She has also earned a Bachelor of Arts, in Philosophy, from the University of Pittsburgh, and her Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing-Poetry from Carlow University. Her chapbook, Class Clown, was chosen as one of ten finalists in the Coal Hill Review Chapbook Contest by Autumn Hill Press and ultimately published by Finishing Line Press in 2015. Victoria lives in Tampa Florida with her cat, Mook. Victoria teaches writing, storytelling and laughter yoga courses for OLLI-USF.  Her second chapbook, When the Walls Cave In, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2018. 

Ceci LaDuca is a Tampa native, military brat and and USF English grad, having worked in the USF Career Center for 23 years in various capacities. An OLLI regular since retiring in 2013, Ceci has taken several classes, including Spanish, Blogging, Physics, the Great Books series, and the Great Decisions Foreign Policy class.  She loves nature, blogging, walking, reading, gardening and retirement!

Diane Russell joined OLLI in 2014. She has taken over 70 OLLI courses on leadership, radio, life story writing, Tai Chi, healthy aging, literature, science, politics, sociology, technology, theater, genealogy, and humanities. Diane volunteers as a proofreader for the OLLI class catalog and for OLLI Connects.



3 Replies to “National Poetry Month”

  1. Joyce
    I love your poem — the feelings you expressed were mine too, when we first came here. Very vivid!

  2. Joyce,
    When I travel and now, when I read the New York Times, I see the US with a fresh perspective, questioning us. I share your thoughts and am glad you are here.

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