Friend of the Month: Connie Goodman-Milone

Philly native, poet, and writer Connie Goodman-Milone lives in Miami with her husband David – they met-cute at a bookstore! – and their two cats, Ursa and Maya, named for Maya Angelou. She’s been involved with the Junior Orange Bowl Creative Writing Contest for many years and is its past chair emeritus, and devotes much of her time to serving as a patient care volunteer with VITAS, a hospice-care organization. She’s also a longtime Friend of the Fair.

“I love being a Friend of the Fair,” says Connie. “It’s about philanthropy and writing and love of books.”

How did you first learn about Miami Book Fair and Friends of the Fair?

I first heard about the Fair through South Florida Writers Association – I’m a past president – and Books & Books. You know, I just dug out all my Friends lanyards and they go back to 2011, so I guess I’ve been a Friend for over a decade.

You’ve been coming to Book Fair for a long time; what compelled you to finally become a Friend?

Well, I roughed it for a few years in the long lines, and – as someone who’s just 5-foot-two – there’s inevitably somebody really tall right in front of the speaker – and when you’re in the general admission line, you get in and catch a seat wherever you can. And I remember one year being in the back of the room for Maureen Dowd and I was so far back that I could hardly see what was going on. That’s when I decided it was time to be a Friend of the Fair. [laughs]

OK, so I’m thinking then that the fast-track lines and upfront seating are two of the perks you most enjoy about being a Friend. What other benefits do you appreciate?

I love going to Tuyo. I usually make it up there for lunch and seeing [FOTF liaison] Annalisa is a highlight. She’s always there to make sure we have what we need; she’s amazing.

What’s an MBF moment or experience that really stands out for you?

The Robert Pinsky and Rita Dove program in 2016; I love that the Fair pairs the U.S. poets laureate together. What moved me so much was the way he listened to her as she read her poetry, and I wrote a poem (about it) and shared it with Pinsky at a book signing. He was so moved that he took my hand in his and gave me the warmest, warmest reception and it just meant everything to me. And that poem on listening won an honorable mention in the Florida State Poets Association contest that year.

That’s amazing!

Another experience that stands out is when Campbell McGrath hosts the poets laureate, that’s also wonderful. And when Rita Dove signed my books with musical notes; she’s done that twice. Being able to get your books signed every year is really great. Mitch Albom signed one for me, too: “Dear Connie, best of luck with your book! Mitch  Albom” – I almost fainted. [laughs]

Have you discovered new authors at MBF?

Yes! One year I had a choice between coming in late to see Mitch Albom – who I’d seen before – or going to see Catherine Wolff talking about On Beyond: How Humankind Thinks About Heaven. I decided to see her and oh, my gosh, it was wonderful! She is an incredible scholar and the book has views of the afterlife from different cultures and religions; just wow. I spoke with her afterward – I believe she has a social work background – and we talked about hospice and I spoke to her about a few things, and she told me that after speaking with me, she wanted to start visiting hospice patients again. Isn’t that amazing?

And you weren’t familiar with her before that?

No; I just made the decision to go see her and maybe learn something new, and I did.

What was the last great book that you read?

You know how there’s different booths at Book Fair?


Well, I like to visit the different booths every year, but I always stop by South Florida Writers Association, my group; also WDNA FM radio, they have a booth and I love going there every Book Fair; and Inner Traditions – it’s a wonderful book company from Vermont, and they have a lot of spiritual books and health books. And one of the books I got there is called Music and Its Secret Influence: Throughout the Ages, by Cyril Scott. It’s very good.

Tell me about the book you’re writing.

I’m co-authoring a book of bereavement poetry with Jonathan Rose – he’s the program director for South Florida Writers Association and moderated the Famous Last Friday Poetry Reading events at Books & Books. The book is an anthology, and the Fair inspires us every year to move closer to that goal.

What book did you go back to again and again when you were a child?

That’s easy: Curious George. And as an adult, I really enjoyed The Journey That Saved Curious George: The True Wartime Escape of Margret and H.A. Rey.

Interview by Elisa Chemayne Agostinho.

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