What’s Going On?

If you pass the Living Room on a Wednesday afternoon, you may wonder, “What’s going on in there?” The activity is one of the less publicized events that take place on a weekly basis as a small group of residents, sitting on easy chairs and couches, share their thoughts on poetry. Their interest and knowledge of the topic was amazing to me, a first time attendee.

Each week, Shirley, leader of the poetry group, facilitates the group members in a discussion of one or more specific poems of the day. Shirley initiated the activity five years ago, and it’s been a regular event ever since. Shirley, who had a minor in English as an undergraduate, continued her education to attain a Master of Social Work degree. She was always interested in poetry, led poetry groups in her pre-Amsterdam days, and has an incredibly large collection of books on poetry. She brings a poem for discussion, along with copies of the poem for everyone in attendance. Often, one of the other members brings a poem that becomes the focal point for discussion. Everyone in the group becomes involved in the dissection of the poem until the construction and meaning of the words are thoroughly understood.

What a learning experience! I had always shied away from poetry, believing that I didn’t understand what the poet was trying to tell me. I found this discussion opening my mind to newfound comprehension. I was able to absorb the similarities of ideas in two of the poems and delighted in learning about a variety of forms of poetry. In just one meeting, I learned that the form called “villanelle” brings forth the power of repetition. It’s so much fun to learn something new at my age! Perhaps I didn’t pay enough attention to my English professors as they diligently lectured after hours of preparation. Possibly, they didn’t have the same enthusiasm for poetry that Shirley and her group entertain.

Getting back to our poetry group, I found Shirley to be an excellent facilitator. Many of the residents in attendance are extremely knowledgeable. Each week, poems are read, discussed and understood. Brains are working hard to comprehend the words of brilliant poets. Residents are thinking, sharing, and experiencing pleasure in beautiful words and thoughts, enjoying each other’s company and intellect. So now you know what’s going on every Wednesday afternoon at 2:30 P.M. in the Living Room. Some day, you may want to join them.

The Amsterdam at Harborside offers over 200 activities each month, so there is truly something for everyone here. Want to learn more about The Amsterdam? Request an information packet or schedule a tour and see for yourself how good life can by at this dynamic independent living community.


Written by Joan R.

Joan graduated Magna cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa from Indiana University and received three graduate degrees in Counseling and School District Administration from Long Island University. A resident of Nassau County since 1953, she has always been active in community affairs as an officer and board member in many organizations. Joan was married for 68 years to Richard and has three children. A resident of The Amsterdam for six years, she is the chairperson of The Amsterdam publication, The Overlook.

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