Rehab at the Florida Avenue Grill

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9780967368801: Rehab at the Florida Avenue Grill

Book by Masson, Veneta

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From the Publisher:

This nurse's poems make strong medicine and memorable stories! Like Langston Hughes' character, Sister Mary, poet Veneta Masson got her feet caught in the "sweet flypaper of life" during her 35 years as a nurse, particularly the 17 years she spent caring for "a motley assortment of patients, some of whom considered themselves family" in the rough and tumble Shaw neighborhood of Washington, DC.

According to Masson, each of the poems in her new book, "Rehab at the Florida Avenue Grill," contains a story. "These often began as conversations with my colleagues or journal entries written in celebration, sorrow, or frustration at the end of a day. Months or years later, when they had 'cooled off' enough to be worked into poems, they found their way into the annual reports of the small clinic where I worked and, one by one, into the literature of my profession." Soul food for caregivers and all who care about healing art, these poems are also a tribute to patients like "Aretha", who introduced her to a local institution, the Florida Avenue Grill, and taught her the real meaning of the term rehabilitation.

"Rehab at the Florida Avenue Grill," gracefully designed by new talent, Lisa Carey, is a 100- page paperback that includes favorites from Masson's earlier book, Just Who, which sold out its 2000 print run, mostly hand to hand.

From the Author:

It no longer surprises me when a patient turns into a poem. It's often their gift to me after our relationship has matured or ended. They don't know it of course. They start by making inroads into my conversations with colleagues and then into my journal. They track through my reveries, dreams and prayers. In time, some of them--the ones whose lives changed mine--turn into poems and in the poems I find the resolution, the message, the gift, whatever they have to give me.

Take Aretha B. I'd nursed her a good ten years, first in my clinic, then in her eighth floor apartment a few blocks away. We'd long since enlarged on the nurse-patient relationship. She was Ms. B and I was Nita. We'd been through her depressions and paranoia, favorite gospel songs, suicide threats, new hairdos, the roller coaster ups and downs of diabetes, her entire collection of rings, the foot ulcer that wouldn't heal, countless cups of coffee, the amputation, her woodcuts and African art pieces, bouts of bronchitis (she hid the cigarettes), her life story, and much of mine.

But her death at sixty after a long turbulent decline wasn't the end of Aretha. She lived on in my heart and mind. When the poems started to come two or three years later, they held more than just our story. Embedded in each, like a pearl in an oyster shell, was one of the lessons I'd learned in our years together, lessons that have shaped me both as a nurse and a story-teller.

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Masson, Veneta
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