By Grace Maselli
Sometimes gifts drop from the sky. Or in the case of our Tampa timebank, from the mystical vibes and synchronicities that live quietly in the still, local spaces between cypress tree branches. A major vibes “channeler,” butterfly farmer (along with his giddy, effervescent wife, Deb), is TBT member and professor—PhD and MBA—Robert E. McGinnis. Robert, who’s too humble to go by “Dr.” in our TBT circles, or likely any circle, is part Renaissance man, part poet (who’s memorized entire epic masterpieces by Kahlil Gibran and recited them verbatim at our TBT potlucks), also teaches in Saint Leo University’s Department of Computer Science & Info Systems in the School of Business.
Given Robert’s eclectic interests, and quick, ready knowledge of stuff happening at Saint Leo’s, he was generous enough to share. Specifically, he forwarded a few known poetry-writing TBTers and groovy friends submission information about the Pasco Fine Arts Council’s and Saint Leo’s Daniel A. Cannon Memorial Library’s Jacaranda Poetry Contest, in honor of April’s National Poetry Month.
Sooo. I did what all would-be poets do when gifts drop from the sky. When energy concentrates and the writing bumps into opportunity (manifested in the physical world, i.e.: Robert’s run-with-it Jacaranda Poetry Contest submission guidelines), I threw my hat in the ring and submitted three unpublished poems.
Turns out one of ’em won first place. My reaction? In a few inimitable words spoken gruffly in 1933 by Popeye the Sailor Man…flippin’ Blow Me Down!
Here’s the very recent email missive I received about the whole magilleh from Jacalyn E. Bryan, Reference and Instructional Services Librarian and Associate Professor at Saint Leo, who works in the Cannon Memorial Library, and who had a major role to play in organization of the Jacaranda contest: “Dear Grace, Congratulations! Your poem, Queen of African Violets, has been selected by our judges to receive first place for the Jacaranda Poetry Contest. We would like to thank you for your contribution to the contest and look forward to your participation in the Jacaranda Poetry Reading and Reception on Wednesday, April 3 at 6:30 pm in the Cannon Memorial Library at Saint Leo University.”
So once again, with humility and deepest appreciation, I reap the meaningful, nourishing fruits of the beautiful timebank. Complete with its connection to people, the arts, and the humanity and soulfulness to care about more than just money. If poetry’s your thing, please join us on April 3 at 6:30 PM at the Daniel A. Cannon Memorial Library at Saint Leo University and earn TBT hours. Let ’em know if you plan to show at Jacalyn.Bryan@saintleo.edu. Library address is 33701 FL-52, St Leo, FL 33574; I’ll be posting the 19-line poem here on the blog after the reading. You can also check out the gorgeous 2019 National Poetry Month poster here.