National Poetry Month

Every April OLLI Connects celebrates National Poetry month by informing you of poetry related events locally and nationally (more on that below) and by sharing with you poetry written or read by OLLI members.

Last year we gave you the opportunity to write and share haiku with us, and we received poems ranging from the sublime (left) to the silly (right):

Like giant sails of ships
The plump rain-filled clouds approach
Frogs waiting to sing.

Morrey Grymes

Faces float before me.
Vague. Dim. Difficult to see.
Damn! A Zoom meeting!

Roger Burr

This year we’ll offer you two ways to share your creative spirit with your fellow readers. First, we’ll once again borrow from the world of Japanese poetry and introduce you to the Tanka, a Japanese free verse form designed to evoke vivid images that jar the reader into thought and reflection. Tanka do not rhyme, but, like haiku, they have a specific syllable pattern. When written in English, a tanka is usually written as five lines totaling 31 syllables.

To quote MasterClass (the source of our information):

“When written in English, tanka poems must meet criteria concerning their structure and content. Regarding structure, the first line of a tanka poem has five syllables, the second line has seven syllables, and the third line again has five syllables—a pattern also found in haiku poetry. A tanka poem deviates from a haiku poem, however, with fourth and fifth lines that are each seven syllables. The number of syllables in each line is the only stylistic constraint of tanka—there’s no need to rhyme or follow any specific meter.

Additionally, the third line must transition from the descriptive and image-focused beginning lines (called kami-no-ku) into a reflective metaphor, simile, or personification for the closing lines (shimo-no-ku). The subject matter can vary, but many poets choose a subject that’s emotionally stirring or quietly profound.”

Here’s an example:

Rushing down the hall
She can’t spare just a moment
To notice her heart
Is like a timpani drum
In search of an orchestra.

To get your creativity flowing, browse through some of those great bird photos you’ve taken. And consider sharing some of those with us too. The photos don’t have to relate to your poetry. A great photo is a great photo and doesn’t need a supporting document.

Whether your inspiration takes you to tanka or to birds, send your results to

Now, let’s look at events in our area and further away.

Casting Poetry on the Lighter Side
Enjoy an evening of giggles and guffaws at the new Commodore Theater, 811 E 7th Avenue. Tampa poets will showcase their work at the Victoria Dym Laugh Fest.
April 25, 7:30 p.m.

Although the deadline for entry passed–quite appropriately–on April Fool’s Day, you are still invited to join in the fun with Victoria and friends. Dym invites you to an evening of “Poetry on the Lighter Side”. 

Here’s to a Happy National Poetry Month! 

Wednesday, April 17, 2024
Location:  SHAMc Stage in Safety Harbor
A $2 donation at the door is appreciated.
Hosted by Ed Derkevics

Now in its 10th year, Safety Harbor Writers & Poets Open Mic Night is one of the area’s most lively, creative events of each month.  Doors open at 6:30 and the mic opens at 7. Writers, poets, acoustic singer-songwriters, comedians, story tellers and all who love such art now gather at the Safety Harbor Art & Music Center for an evening of positively charged fun. [You get seven minutes at the mic to share your original words, performance, etc.]

And one more note of interest: OLLI-USF has a class coming up that–as of the time we write this–has a few spaces open. It is Imagery: The Foundation for Writing Evocative Poems and will be taught by Ryan Cheng on April 19 from 1 to 3 p.m. at Concordia Village.

Ryan Cheng, MFA, Assistant Professor of Instruction at USF, teaches both professional and creative writing courses here. He has taught creative and academic writing for 10+ years in CA, FL and overseas, and has won several poetry awards.

Coffee and Poetry at Jack’s House
Welcomes Florida Poet Laureate,
Peter Meinke

The Jack Kerouac House of St. Petersburg
Sunday, April 28 3-6 p.m.
Admission $10

To participate contact

City of St. Petersburg
Events throughout the month of April. Browse through the website here.

Events are scheduled throughout the month. Browse through the website here.

Your one stop shop for all the spoken word/poetry shows and events in and around the Tampa Bay area. Join here.

Navigate to your local PBS affiliate to access all seasons of this PBS series, starting with the most recent events streaming now on season 4.

In our upcoming issues this month, we hope to share your poetry and photos and news of other events in our area. As Victoria said, “Here’s to a Happy National Poetry Month!” — Editors

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