For Seniors Only! Senior Spotlight: Sam Barbee
When and where were you born?
Forsyth County, June 7, 1954, but grew up in Wilmington – a regular beach bum.
What did you want to be growing up?
Who said I wanted to grow up? But I suppose I have always enjoyed words and deconstructing them. That’s why poetry is so fulfilling for me.
Did you have an after-school job?
I played several sports growing up so that was my most viable excuse for not working. I did have a paying job as a yardman in several older women’s gardens some afternoons.
What extra-curricular activities were you involved in?
Sports, piano lessons, listening to Beatle albums, and I became preoccupied with a few girls. Growing up at the coast, I fished a little. Plus a friend and I wrote new songs and at night performed them on our guitars in coffeehouses and small venues at Wrightsville Beach.
Did you go to college or trade school or do military service?
I graduated from UNC-W in four years, and moved here hoping to enroll in the MFA Writing Program at UNC-Greensboro. I got sidetracked though.
Who were your heroes when you were a child?
Joe Namath, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Hugh Heffner, perhaps a few family members.
What major historical events do you remember from your childhood?
Both of the Kennedy and the ML King assassinations are burned in (I went to school at New Hanover HS which was one of the hot spots during the Wilmington Ten years – we had soldiers with M14’s in our halls my sophomore year); and then when the stock market tripped 1000 points; first man on the moon; NY Jets winning the super bowl; and of course lots of family events.
Name one person in your life that has made the biggest influence.
My writing professor at UNC-W, my father and my father-in-law, all had a major impact on my life.
What activities do you participate in that keeps you physically active?
I go to the YMCA several times a week and do weights; still play basketball, volleyball and tennis on some level.
What activities do you participate in which keep you intellectually challenged?
I write as often as I can. Converse with people I respect to hear their points of view. I enjoy reading poetry, but I need to read more varied things.
What advice for healthy aging do you have for the next generation of seniors?
Stay active – both physically and mentally. Spiritually too, if you have the inclination. Let the little stuff go.
Is there anything that scares you about the future?
Scares me . . . not really. But concerns me . . . yes: for the world we are leaving our children: environmentally, financially, politically and this insane gun violence.
What do you like about being your age?
First, it’s great to be alive and healthy, but surviving all the hard knocks you take getting to this point are what make it worthwhile, because I appreciate so many more things on different levels now. So many younger folks may know a lot, but they don’t understand a lot.
If you were granted two wishes, what would they be?
To be able to play any music put in front of me on the piano; and to have the ability to read much faster with 100% retention of what I read. A photographic memory would be nice.
Anything else you would like to add?
I have been involved with the Senior Games both in the Athletic and Silver Arts categories for three years and have found it extremely rewarding by competing and meeting new people. I have medaled in the basketball, corn hole toss, billiards and signed up for the tennis. I also won the Poetry category several years back and agreed to be a judge since then. I am on the Board of Directors of the Winston-Salem Writers; and coordinate six writing Critique Groups; plus am managing the downtown poetry initiative “Poetry In Plain Sight”, which has as one of our goals to post new poetry every month in 16 storefront windows on Fourth Street and Trade Street’s Arts District. I have written over four-hundred poems, eight short stories and one novel. I also published one book of poetry and appeared in over 80 literary magazines nationally. I have completed a second book of poetry and am currently searching for a publisher.