Never squeeze a tangerine

Poet Tangerine Bell holds the book she published at 94 years old.

“Tangerines are meant to be sectioned and savored,” according to Tangerine Bell, a 94-year-old resident at The Friends Home in Kennett Square. More than nine decades of a wide scope of experiences and opinions are shared in Bell’s book “Tangerine Poems at 94.”  Although her first poem was written at the age of four years, her first book was only just published in 2017.

Her first introduction to poetry was when a minister visited her home when she was almost five. When he asked if she’d like some poetry, Bell thought it was something to eat and eagerly accepted his offer.

The minister spoke a rhyme: “Jane ate the cake, and Jane ate the jelly, Jane went to bed with a pain in her ----”  He paused so that Bell could supply the missing word “belly.” He further offered “Now don’t be mistaken, don’t be misled, Jane went to bed with a pain in her ----.” From that meeting, Bell was taken into the universe of words.

Born in Hillsboro, Ohio, Bell met her husband at Wilmington College, Ohio. The richness of a 62-year marriage spread among 25 homes across North America is reflected in more than one hundred poems in her first volume. Bell had previously published individual poems.

The Bells had four children. Writing runs in the family. Bell’s daughter Alice writes music, her daughter Connie writes short stories and her granddaughter Christine is beginning to write poetry. Her son Sam has written articles and a book on car maintenance.

The variety of poems reflect a variety of life experiences some whimsical, some descriptive and some reflect an independent point of view.  A whimsical short verse titled "Virginia State Motto" is one of her favorites.

“Virginia is for lovers.”
That, of course, is true-
But if you find the proper partner
Any state will do.

Many of her longer, descriptive poems such as "Forth" contain references to poets of the past which gives the reader instant familiarity,  "Forth" evokes Walt Whitman and Edgar Allen Poe. The references to other poets and their verses convey Bell's continual intertwining life and verse. Her daughter Connie finds in her poems filled “with a lifelong sense of love, struggle, wonder…and humor.”

Tangerine Bell with her spiral notebook in which she hand writes her poems.

Friends Home. Home Director Christine McDonald said Bell visits her office almost every day. McDonald is impressed with her intelligence and independence of mind. Once Bell didn’t have enough of a personal product, she complained to McDonald with a poem. McDonald bought Bell 100 of the item.

No word processor for Bell. She writes her poems in a spiral notebook. Volume two is being created. Bell has written many poems but hasn’t chosen a title yet. She is working on a poem for the new publication about asking time to pause.

“Tangerine Poems at 94” is available for purchase on Amazon. Dot Folz, admissions director, at Friends Home says that Bell is “wonderful.” She uses her craft to spread cheer.

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About Emily Myers

Emily Myers has lived and worked in Chadds Ford for over thirty years.  She founded the parent company of Chadds Ford Live, Decision Design Research, Inc., in 1982.  ChaddsFordLive.com represents the confluence of Myers' long time, deep involvement in technology and community. Myers was a founding member of the Chadds Ford Business Association and currently serves on its board of directors.  Her hobbies include bridge, golf, photography and Tai Chi. She lives with her husband, Jim Lebedda, in Chadds Ford Township.

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