Josephine Carpignano, 85, retired educational psychologist, lives in San Mateo, California. In 2011 she won the National Senior Poet Honor Scroll Award with her chilling poem “The Yellow Bus.” She is a member of the SF/Peninsula Branch of the California Writers Club. Jo is author of the self-published book Madeline’s Story about her immigrant mother, a member of an Italian family, who came to San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake. Dr. Carpignano’s writing credits also include awards for both prose and poetry, as well as publication of magazine articles and chapters in professional books.

This photo of Jo was taken at the San Mateo County Fair in June 2013.  The book she is holding, Carry the Light, is an anthology published by the Fine Arts Division at the fair, which included at least one submission from each contest entrant.  This year Jo won honorable mention for her short story "Billy Boy." Several of her poems were also included in the anthology.

Jo says, “At the fair, three of us ‘senior poets’ participated  in a well-received panel discussion on poetry.  As a result of literary enthusiasm during the fair, the position of Poet Laureate of San Mateo County was created.” She adds that her family members are proud of the honor that the National Senior Poet Laureate Award brings to them. We are proud to welcome her as the 21st National SPL winner. Jo Carpignano’s laureate poem “Elegy to a Beloved Colleague” appears on the next page. Her sun sign is Aquarius.


His voice was soft, and spoken words were few,
“Hi there.” or ”How are you today?” he’d say.
While every story brought to us was new,
he read it softly in a whispering way.

Wiry and slim, he moved with quiet grace,
a bit of Gary Cooper in his loping stride.
His walk deliberate, with a measured pace,
the unintended wanderings set aside.

He knew specific rules for every word
semantics and italics, but a few.
From him, exacting use of language heard,
“A better way,” he’d say, “for clearer view.”

Aware of every writer’s fragile mood,
with tender ear, corrected written word.
Used prudent caution, as all critics should,
caught deeper meanings, others found absurd.

Wrote of his travels in far distant lands;
visiting China, exploring in Spain,
sailing the high seas, and walking white sands.
He examined life’s joys, studied its pain.

We heard the roar of untamed winter storm,
felt cold blustering winds, smelled salty sea air,
savored sweet fruits, tasted fresh bread still warm.
“Use all senses,” he’d say. “Give words a flair.”

Before final days, as time started to shrink,
his finished work, in published form came.
The long hoped-for book, not quite dry of ink,
with hard bound cover, displaying his name!

He lived life strong, leaving some simple rules;
this wise, knowing man, who only seemed shy,
might say, “You are well schooled, you have the tools--
I achieved my dream—You can, if you try.”

Completed book revealed his writer’s care,
in printed form his work will long survive.
Abundant written guides he left to share,
and with remembered voice, remains alive.

Jo Carpignano      
San Mateo, California