Another year has already rolled by! And…the 2016 SummerWords Creative Writing Festival is on! Thursday night was opening night. I am so thrilled to be attending the festival this year, and I am especially grateful to be a scholarship recipient to attend the four-day event. Today was check-in, orientation, and a reading event featuring Cathy Arellano (poet), Christian Kiefer (novelist), and Lois Ann Abraham (novelist). The presenters read from their published books (or completed manuscripts). I loved seeing the familiar faces of my creative writing professors and participants and getting warmed up for a wonderful conference, the best writing conference I know!!! I love it! The American River College campus looked lovely, and the sunshine was just perfect! ❤


Posted by: Viola | May 11, 2016

E-Portfolio or Thesis?

I’ve been reading through the requirements for the MLIS program I will begin this fall, and one of the capstone (culminating) requirements for the degree is (1) a thesis or (2) an e-portfolio. I am pretty sure I will opt for the second option and skip the thesis, because I am more interested in mastering key skills/knowledge for librarianship, at this point. I think this will prepare me for employment much more than a thesis will.

I wasn’t sure what the e-portfolio was, so I have spent the afternoon today reading about it and checking out samples of e-portfolios organized by students who graduated from the program. I really love all the information that’s available and feel that I have a better understanding now of what the e-portfolio is. It is a “virtual” document that showcases a student’s ability to synthesis and present/elaborate on all the core competencies required of a librarian graduating from the MLIS program.

Looking at examples has been informative because I can see how the structure works and what is involved. This gives me a chance to prep for organizing my own portfolio early, from the beginning of my first semester. I love this sample portfolio (via Nimble Librarian) and this sample, too (via Rene La Bibliotecaria), because they are so clear and accessible. I am taking a look at this sample provided by the program. I will do my best to begin thinking about the core competencies as I read about library science prior to my first semester, and I will keep these competencies in mind as I go through each course.

Posted by: Viola | May 8, 2016

Lovely review of BIRD FROM AFRICA chapbook

Just tooling around online this evening, and I found this beautiful review of my BIRD FROM AFRICA chapbook. It’s wonderful to read another person’s views and interpretations of my poems and my chapbook as a whole. Thank you to the “Africa in Words” team for sharing this review on their beautiful website, and thank you to Tamara for writing this wonderful review. Above all, thank you for reading my poems. You’ve reminded me of my true love and why I am a poet. ❤ Read the review here: DEEP RIVULETS OF FEELING, a review by Tamara Moellenberg. ❤ Thank you again!

Posted by: Viola | May 7, 2016

A *few* things public librarians do

Today, I went through an online orientation covering some basic information about the MLIS program I will begin in the fall. It is an online master’s in library and information science, and this means that everything will be done online. The orientation was helpful and highlighted some things to keep in mind prior to the first semester.

After watching the one-hour long video/audio orientation, I followed some of the suggested links and read about the various career pathways, specifically for public librarians. I feel drawn to public libraries, and this might change once I start my coursework, but for now I am exploring what it means to be a public librarian.

I want to have real experience working in a the public library environment. I hope one of the jobs I have applied for will come through and be a great fit for me, and I hope it will be an awesome start to what I feel might very well be my life’s calling. I suspect I am a public librarian, at heart.

Until I can gain work experience, I have to rely on my imagination and any information on the topic, like this blog post on what public librarians do. Don’t be fooled by how organized your public library might seem–it is no easy job keeping a public library in order and making it a welcoming place to people from all walks of life.

Public libraries do not only make books and computers available and accessible to the public, they also offer informative events and safe entertainment options relevant to patrons and the community; they offer free services that enhance the quality of life of community residents; they may house community archives and historical information; and they offer education assistance to students and to those who might want help developing certain skills, especially related to using technology/computers.

It’s important not to take the public library for granted…imagine if it were to vanish…what a vacuum it would leave behind! The more I think about and read about public libraries, the more I realize that libraries are places that help keep communities strong and healthy. I have such deep respect now for libraries and librarians.

Posted by: Viola | May 5, 2016

Visit to the Folsom Public Library

Last week, I visited the Sacramento Public Library (Central Library). Well, Tuesday this week, I visited the Folsom Public Library. It’s a 30-minute drive from where I live. The city of Folsom is east of where I live, and the library there is located next to the zoo. I’ve been to the zoo, but this was my first time visiting the library.

I love the Folsom Public Library! It has an interesting design, a very unique feel to it. It’s like walking into a half-circle/half moon and flowing/floating across it. Very different from the typical boxy or square or rectangular buildings one might be used to. I love the giant windows and how the library is beautifully flooded with natural light.

My visit to the library was for a meeting with the volunteer coordinator to talk about the possibility of my volunteering at the library as an assistant facilitator in their ESL Conversation Club. Next week, I will visit the library again to attend a conversation session and see how it all works. It is a volunteer-staffed program that supports ESL speakers in enhancing their English-speaking skills, with a focus on everyday conversations.

I look forward to experiencing a session and getting a feel for whether it’s something I’d be good at, as a volunteer. From talking with the volunteer coordinator, I gathered that this library is a wonderful place for the community of Folsom. I felt very happy and at home being in the library. I can’ explain it but I really do love libraries. They make the world a better place. And I cannot wait to be a librarian. ❤

Posted by: Viola | May 3, 2016

The job search…is an adventure

I have been in job-search mode for two months now. I began in early March and have not stopped. Not even for a day, I think. I’ve been constantly at it, re-working my resume, drafting a cover letter, getting irritated at my LinkedIn, asking friends for tips and assistance (especially with my resume), searching job websites or career website job listings…and watching tutorials about the job search and career change (since I am going from being a poet/writer to being a librarian).

One area I need to do more work on is “interviews.” I need to learn a little more about how to ace an interview–what tips and preparations make a difference. Perhaps what I need to get most comfortable with is that this is my passion–being a librarian and working in libraries–and this is what will shine through any interview I participate in. I need not worry so much about the right or wrong way to interview. I must trust myself and believe in myself and my enthusiasm for the field of library work.

It’s been an intense two months. I do feel some exhaustion now. Mostly, I feel restless, eager to work in a library and impatient to begin doing so. I want to be in a library and I don’t want to wait. I also don’t want to take “no” for an answer. I know I have to start somewhere, and so I remind myself to be patient and keep trying and not lose faith. I am fighting the stress and exhaustion by re-framing things, looking at this whole job search process as an adventure–hard to do, on most days, but I am trying to stay positive.

I have received several rejections for jobs I applied for–mainly, I lack the necessary work experience to merit getting my foot in the door. But I have also received positive feedback–my new resume is more successful and easy to read/follow, and my educational background and unique/eclectic work experiences make me very well-suited to the field of library science and library information services.

I have a lot experience working with children, as a childcare provider. This gives me lots of skills if I decide to be a Children’s Services Librarian. I also have a very strong academic background, and this can lead to work as an Academic Librarian. All in all, I have lots of experience working with people and being of service to them, supporting them in various ways, so this goes well with the core value of public service upheld by librarians. I will soon begin my MLIS program which will give me the academic training needed to become a librarian. So there is hope for me. There is hope. Lots of hope. ❤

Yesterday, I got to visit the Central Library, the main library in the Sacramento Public Library system. I was thrilled to be able to visit this magnificent and spacious library. I met with the Volunteer Services Coordinator to talk about the possibility of volunteering at the library. I have been struggling with finding library-related work, and so it occurred to me to look into volunteering–which would give the chance to meet with library staff, learn new skills, be of service as a volunteer, and (above all else) gain some firsthand experience of what it’s like to work in a library.

The Central Library is located in downtown Sacramento, and it’s a considerable drive from where I live. But once I got there, I felt happy and at home. I enjoyed every moment of my meeting with the volunteer coordinator. She was not only encouraging but very inspiring. She made me feel that I’ve made the right choice to dedicate my life to librarianship. She was warm and welcoming, and the vision she shared about what public libraries do is the vision I want to support. She did mention that my academic background makes me suited to the path of an academic librarian and not only a public librarian. I said that I will explore both paths. I will try, within the coming months, to learn more about both specializations and see which feels like the best fit. I plan to take coursework for both areas, once I begin my MLIS training.

After our meeting, I spent some time walking through the stacks and checking out all the levels of the library. I sat for a while by a large window and looked down at the busy street below. The trees were leafy and full. The sun was bright. Everything felt right.

Posted by: Viola | April 27, 2016

To be loved…is

to be loved…is…
by Viola Allo
to be loved is…
to be loved is…
to be seen
to be loved is…
to be known
to be loved is…
to be loved is…
to not have to be
all alone
to be loved is…
to go on a journey
with someone
all the learning
all the growing
is…really…all the loving
to be loved is…
to begin a journey
with someone
to love that person back
is to continue the journey
to love and be loved
is to complete the journey
to be loved and to love
is to be…and to have been…
and it is also to become
to be loved and to love
is to make it…
to the end
By Viola Allo. All rights reserved. Please contact author for permission to use and share this poem.
Posted by: Viola | April 26, 2016

A poem I left at Paisley Park

So…I’ve been thinking a lot about Prince, remembering the times I met him. It’s amazing what the mind can store, in terms of memories. So many memories. I didn’t get to spend much time around him, but from the few brief times I did, certain things remain with me and are coming back to me.

For instance, I recall that while my sister was part of Prince’s NPG band, I got to visit Paisley Park very briefly, and while there, I gave Prince a copy of one of my poems. I had brought a copy along because I thought it was a good poem, one of my best poems. I thought perhaps it might inspire a song for him and my sister to work on. Or maybe I wanted them to feel that I was their peer–maybe I did it for me, because I wanted to feel that I was a fellow artist even though I do not sing or play any musical instrument. And so one evening, while visiting with him and my sister, I whipped out my poem printed on white paper and showed it to them.

They took a look at my poem, and then left it on a table in the dining section of the lounge area where Prince received guests and watched TV (sports/games, news, documentaries…). I saw the poem lying on one of the dining tables and made a note to pick it up later in the evening if it was still lying there. I figured it was a silly thing, already forgotten, because they had no need for my poetry, they had no need for my art. And what did I expect, that somehow a poem morphs into a song sung by a legendary singer and instrumentalist? Yeah, what exactly did I expect!? 🙂

Well, later that evening, it was time for me to return to the hotel/inn where Prince often had his guests stay. I went to the dining area and looked for my poem. It was nowhere to be seen. The maids who came in to clean at night were mopping the dining area. The space smelled strongly of whatever cleaner they were using. I hated that smell–it was so overpowering and noxious, in my opinion. I didn’t want to breathe those chemicals in.

I held my breath and asked the maids if they had seen a piece of paper lying on the table and if they had picked it up or thrown it away. They said “No.” They had not seen any piece of paper. They had not seen any poem lying on a table. I looked on the floor, under the tables, all around the area. No poem there. I think I even looked around the main recording studio, hoping that maybe the poem had been moved and would turn up there. I kept looking but had to stop because I was getting in the way of the women doing their cleaning and it would be weird if someone spotted me scanning around for a piece of paper. I left without my poem.

I am not sure where it went. Maybe Prince took it. It was meant for him. But I thought no one cared about it. I couldn’t understand how it disappeared. But I gave it to him. So why did it bother me when I couldn’t find it? I guess I changed my mind, maybe I wanted my poem back, maybe I felt that no one else could understand what the poem meant to me…not even Prince. I began to feel very protective of my poem, worrying what would become of it. I did my best to let it go.

I still wonder what happened to my poem. Whether Prince kept it or threw it away. I wonder if it’s still at Paisley Park. I hope he got to read the poem. I hope he enjoyed it, in some way, or at least drew some inspiration from it. It’s a beautiful poem. It’s still one of my best and most beloved poems. I am glad now that I left something of mine at Paisley Park. I was, no doubt, one of thousands of people who found their way there, over the years. I am grateful I got to be there and see Prince at home there and leave a poem of mine behind. That poem is called “Nigerian Girl with Calabash.”


Posted by: Viola | April 23, 2016

We mourn the loss of Prince

We woke up Thursday to sad news. Prince had passed away. I’m not sure what to say. He was a part of our artistic community and family and we loved him. Wherever you are, Prince, we love you and wish we could turn back the hands of time. Farewell and thank you for all that you gave to the world. Your art lives on and so will you, in our hearts and minds. You are in our thoughts and memories. We will always remember you. I hope you knew how much you were loved, so very loved by so many.

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