Most of the documents are in format. If you do not have the
free Adobe Acrobat Reader installed, please go to the
Acrobat Reader download page first.
Gianna Russo is a writer pursuing a lifetime vocation to
poetry and teaching. For 30 years she has supported and been
an active member of the literary arts not only in Tampa but
all across Florida including her role as an Artist-Advisor
to the Arts Council of Hillsborough County.
Russo is the recipient of fellowships from the Surdna
Foundation, the Hambidge Center for the Arts and Sciences,
Arts Teacher Fellowship and the Hillsborough County Artist
Fellowship, Emerging Artist Grant. She has also been
nominated for the Pushcart Prize and servced as a grant
panelist for the Hillsborough County Arts Grants. Russo has
poems published in many publications including Crab Orchard
Review, Bloomsbury Review, The Sun, Poet Lore, The MacGuffin,
Calyx, Apalachee Reivew, Florida Review and Tampa Review.
She has taught English and Creative Writing for over 20
years becoming the creator and co-director of the creative
writing program at Howard W. Blake School of Arts. Russo was
the administraor of the Florida Suncoast Writers Conference,
founding director of the YMCA Writers Voice in Tampa, and
founder and editor of YellowJacket Press. Currently Gianna
Russo is the Curator of Education at the Henry B. Plant
Museum in Tampa.
The seagulls gather like old-time believers behind the
In identical gray vests, they decree their faith in fish and
Some agitate over the way the wind blows,
some testify in high voices the wonders of minnows and
Seagulls are tide-readers, evangelists of moon & cloud.
Watch them congregate like the pure of heart,
sounding a come-and-get-it while the gettin's good,
The Big Question
The anhinga are still as monks,
their heads tucked in meditation.
Like deep seas divers or winged mermaids,
they swim, swim on a wish and a breath,
searching for something to fit the bill.
But when they soar up and land on the foot of the dock,
they turn into glossy black question marks,
sun-worshippers asking where, where, where?
The Cabbage Palm: ‘Lessen You Cut it Down'
I tell you, there's no tree like the cabbage palm.
It never dies of old age, and you can't see the end of it
lessen you cut it down.
from Palmetto Country by Stetson Kennedy
With a crown piercing the ferris wheel sky, cabbage palm
across the swampland, in olden days, or poked shadows in the
These ribbons were a green rollercoaster that folded and
wove through twilight.
In the hands of the Calusa, the climb and drop of days
sleeping mats, chickee thatch, heart-palm meals, battle
Now cabbage palms are planted in queues down a thousand
miles of interstate.
In Tampa, heart of palm salad is served with key lime
In Disney World, the storied trunks tack down corners of a
new town square.
But in spring drought or summer flood, salt marsh or tidal
the green-gray pinwheels still prickle against sunrise and
winds and rain, they just give.
Even now, against the back-lit streets of Harbor Island,
air ferns clasp blackness inside the old leaf stems on the
and a black snake curls there in moonlight's sideshow.
The fronds stab at clouds drifting on the river or slice
shadows on the Everglades.
Wish-you were-here fronds that seem tipped with stars,
like lights strung across a midway.
Squint and You'll See It
The river is like syrup,
and floating in its sweetness are cruise ships to take you
wonderful Nowhere, that beckons you right past noon in this
lures you into the channel where the wind ruffles your hair,
urges you past the cranes rusting at the port industrial
past the gray holding tanks, past Gulf Marine Repair and the
tugboat named River Belle,
past the condos on Harbor Island painted sunnily as the
Nowhere calls you out onto the bay, lures you to the gulf ,
and then, and then,
your mind unclasps and Nowhere becomes a real port-of-call,
a green flash at sunset, a red sky at night, a true
destination of rest and joy
that you can get to just by standing on a sidewalk by a
river near downtown,
just like this.
Once she sat like a grande dame on her throne,
crowned with 6 minarets, 6 crescent moons.
Rich Northerners with months to spare arrived
by train or steamer for their health and pleasure.
They called the hotel "a dream of Southern Splendor,"
a poem in latticework and brick.
The guest rooms ensured a balmy sleep,
orange blossom-full and opulent.
Everything about her was exotic.
Winters, she reigned in this Land of Lovely Dreams;
Summers, she sat empty as the coal bin in July.
But that was long before you and me.
Once she was a fairyland in the heart of the semi-tropics.
Alone, her silver spires etched Tampa's sky,
just in time for the 20th century.
from The Bridgekeeper Notices Fall
Like a stranger from up river,
a tourist without a map,
wind stumbles through the cattails
in a dappled, amber light
from The Bridgekeeper Notices Fall
Mullet flash up into the air
in a slanting hyacinth light;
but the bridgeman only listens for his boats
and turns to the sun setting over the river
like a man turning back for his sweater.
from Poem for Any Reason
The river is amber smoke coiling
into what's left of the hometown.