From the Stacks
By Carol Ann Robb, PPL Reference Librarian

At the end of last Summer, I made a wish list of programs for my last year at the library and there was one person who I definitely wanted to return. Not only is Melissa Fite Johnson a talented poet who brings in large crowds, she very graciously agreed to be our first post-Covid speaker, who gave a reading at the Pritchett Pavilion on one of the hottest evenings in June of 2021. It wasn’t the best of conditions but she graciously read to an appreciative crowd. I wanted her back in a more climate-controlled setting.

And then I came up with an even better idea—she should read with her high school English teacher, Al Ortolani, also a crowd favorite. I loved the idea of the symmetry of the teacher and his student, who became an English teacher, reading together and fortunately Melissa agreed.

But then Melissa’s husband Marc came up with an even more brilliant suggestion—why not continue the chain and ask one of Melissa’s former students to read with them? They all agreed and that’s how a dream team of poets—Al Ortolani, Melissa Fite Johnson, and Megan Munger—is coming together this Sunday at 2:00 p.m. for the poetry reading of the year.

Since I first reached out to Melissa, she’s had a new collection of poems published and copies of “Midlife Abecedarian,” will be available for purchase—and she’ll sign them for you as well. Al will also have copies of his books. Megan’s not there yet but expect her to come back when her first book is published.

This will be a celebration of not just the spoken word, but also of teaching. Teachers are unsung heroes and we need to lift up those who share their knowledge and talent with young people, who are then inspired to do the same. How many teachers are fortunate enough to learn how much they’ve influenced one of their students? I can’t imagine the sense of pride that Al must have in Melissa’s success as both a writer and a teacher, a feeling that Melissa will no doubt feel Sunday afternoon as well as Megan follows in her footsteps.

I’ve looked forward to this event for some months now and am so excited that these three creative individuals will share their talents with us. Don’t forget—Sunday, April 21, at 2:00 p.m.—for the last and best poetry reading of my tenure.