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 …)

A Dark and Stormy Night

Linda Ho

It was a dark and stormy night. The fierce wind swirled relentlessly around the rustic oak cabin nestled in a lonely valley of the Smoky Mountains. By nightfall, snow drifts covered the three small windows of the one-room lodge built by the early pioneers of the Tennessee Valley.

Five-year-old twins Jeremiah and Johanna were huddled next to the fireplace, mesmerized by the crackling sounds of pine logs set ablaze and their brightly dancing embers. The warmth of the fire snuggled them in a cocoon of safety against the frightening storm.  (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…)

Once Upon a Time in Tampa

Neil Cosentino

Rescuing the historic Deutscher-Americaner Club

I have some German heritage on my mother’s side, so I decided to rescue the Deutscher-Americaner Club. It was then a derelict building located in Ybor City on Nebraska Avenue, a block north of Palm Avenue and El Centro Asturiano, the Spanish social club.

The campaign started many years ago on the day I drove past the boarded-up building. My concern was that it could be set on fire someday by the homeless people who, from time to time, broke in and lived inside the building. I enjoy telling this story about Tampa, because of the interesting how-to takeaways.  (More…)

An Unforgivable Mistake

Junia Ancaya

A knock on the door and a voice wakes me up, “Por favor, Doctora, come to the men’s ward. A patient is in pain.”

It’s 1961. I’m a last year medical student and my position in the hospital “on-call-hierarchy-ladder” stands firm at the bottom. I’m “el ultimo perro,” the last dog, the one who gets called all night long at Hospital San Miguel, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. I’m also a young Polish immigrant in Argentina, not familiar with many of the local expressions.

I rush downstairs and ask a nurse what is going on. “It’s that old Sicilian patient, Señor Giuseppe Coconato, the one who throws kisses to every nurse. He seems to have abdominal pain,” she says.

I find the patient’s bed among rows of thirty snoring men. He lies still, holding his distended stomach. Bushy pure-white hair, eyebrows, and whiskers dominate the dark Mediterranean features of this miniature old man. He thanks me for coming. I examine him, evaluate his history, signs and symptoms, and promise him he’ll soon get medication for gas pains and indigestion.

As I walk away, while scribbling orders on his chart, the patient asks in Spanish, speaking in his near-unintelligible Sicilian accent, “Me van a poner la chata esta noche?”   (More…)