Advanced Search | Search A!:
Volume 26, Number 6 — June 2019

Age, The Arts & Education: Poetry, Films & More

On his 87th birthday, Sean O'Sullivan gasps,
On his 87th birthday, Sean O'Sullivan gasps, "Are all these candles mine?"

By ANGELA WAMPLER | August 26, 2008

Sean O'Sullivan, 87, describes himself as "another Abingdon refugee from Yankeeland." He moved to our area in 1990, after 34 years in television production and direction at ABC's national headquarters in Manhattan, NY.

* * * *
You see things and say "Why?" But I dream things that never were, and say "Why not?"
— from Back to Methuselah by the late George Bernard Shaw,
a quote made famous by the late Senator Robert Kennedy

* * * *

He is a poet, actor, dramatist and photographer, and a former member of the Arts Alliance Mountain Empire's A! Magazine for the Arts committee.

At the College for Older Adults at SVHEC, O'Sullivan has participated in various classes, from Poetry to Philosophy to Systems Analysis ("since I'm so unsystematic myself") to Thinking About Thinking.

"As a cultural institution, College for Older Adults is absolutely marvelous. It's like finding a jewel in the mountains," he says. "It's a social mixer, also. I've met people there that I would not have met otherwise."

A member of the Appalachian Poets & Writers group that meets at The Arts Depot in Abingdon, O'Sullivan says, "Every time there's a writing course (at the COA), people sign up for it. It's relatively rare to have poetry writing courses; they're usually about the appreciation and reading of it."

He also attends Arts Array Film discussions. "Other people have a way of describing their impressions of the films in ways that make me wonder if I've really seen the same films. The discussions are very stimulating."

Regarding arts-related activities and the brains of older adults, O'Sullivan says, "There's been a lot of clinical study on that subject — the pursuits of learning for seniors and the mental benefits. I just know that my brain is grateful for any nutrition that it gets. I can't get enough of it."

by Sean O'Sullivan

Always the Question
The endless Seeking

There is no Resolution
We keep on Demanding it

Life retains its Mysteries
Hiding behind its Facade

God never granted Knowledge
Telling Adam to Refrain
From the Poison of its Roots
We're held by its Attraction
Entwined so deeply with Sex

The Greatest of Life's Secrets
That attracts as it Confounds
With Rewards beyond our Grasp
Even as we think we've Won
Leaving us Hungry for More

Our Weeping Goes on
As Joy Eludes us

* * * *
who are passionate about The Arts and education.

ALMA RIGBY, 73, can usually be found taking one of Virginia Intermont's classes for seniors: "I love to do things with young people."

JOAN HORSCH, 76, has participated in the Arts Array Film Discussions for 10 years: "The film discussions are really interesting because someone else always sees something you didn't see or has an extremely different impression of what the ending means."

REBECCA HARRINGTON, 64, has been swept away in The Barter Experience: "I almost didn't go see Dracula, thinking 'how many times do I need to see that production?' But I went to the theatre and I'm so glad I did."

CAROL BELL, 67,joins in discussions in the Women Writers at SVHEC: "Some people mention other books. Everyone does away with news things to read and a new focus on the Appalachian region and the writers."

ANNE ARMENTROUT, 60, loves words so Improvisation & Creative Movement is right up her alley: "The class provides exercises not only for the body, but also for the mind and imagination."

PROGRAMS for older adults available in the region.

HISTORIC EXAMPLES: The Arts & the Brains of Older Adults

BACK to the main story: "The Arts & the Brains of Older Adults."