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A lifelong poet sees her work brought to life on stage

Woman sitting on stairs, smiling
Mike Vega
Linda Albert, 86, has been a lover of words for as long as she can remember.

The Sarasota Bay Club 86-year-old says words and creativity served as a steadying force throughout her life.

Linda Albert has accomplished more in her 86 years than many will ever dream of, but writing — primarily poetry — has always been her devotion.

An award-winning author, her most notable recent work, her book "Charting the Lost Continent," has come to life on stage.

Winning a gold medal in the Florida Authors and Publishers Association President's Book Awards’ poetry category in 2021, the book details the journey from young adulthood to approaching the elder years from a woman’s perspective. The work was adapted into a play by director India Marie Paul.

Albert attended the premiere on Oct. 25, describing it as a “magical happening” and saying it even gave her chills, something she says only occurs when seeing “real truth.”

“It brought it to life in a way that was, I mean, it was a spectacular experience,” she said. “I could not have imagined that something like that would have happened.”

“I think creativity saved my life, and my sanity, frankly.”
Linda Albert

A lifetime in the making, Albert dedicated four years, pulling from her own life experiences, to complete the book. She decided to self-publish in 2020 at the age of 82, crediting her mother’s lifelong dream for her to write a book, as well as the “inner Divine” for pushing her to create the work.

“Publishing this book at the age of 82 seems both long overdue, yet perfectly timed,” she said.

The play was produced in partnership with Sarasota Jewish Theatre after Albert struck up a friendship with artistic director Carole Kleinberg. Kleinberg came to Albert after reading her book, exclaiming her vision for it to appear in theater.

The show originally appeared on stage at The Players Center—Studio on Oct. 25-26. The production will also appear at Temple Sinai on Nov. 19 and at Temple Beth Israel on Jan. 7.

A lover of words

According to family lore, Albert talked, read and wrote early in life, supposedly shocking her parents when she picked up an Oscar Wilde book and fluently read a full page at the age of 2.

Albert has no recollection of the event, nor does she think she would have understood the words that left her lips, but she does imagine she would have been rather proud of herself.

Book cover says: Charting The Lost Continent
Mike Vega
Linda Albert published her book in 2020 at the age of 82.

“I must have liked what I was doing, and can imagine myself there, a sturdily built, tow-headed child with a lopsided grin and an aim to please,” she wrote in a description of her love for words, “standing in a sunny room where dust mites danced in slow motion, proudly showing my stuff, not only for the applause it brought me, but for the joy of speaking the words themselves.”

She doesn’t remember a time when she wasn’t enthralled by words on paper, whether that meant devouring a book or putting pen to paper herself. Albert also had a knack for rhythm, quickly becoming her family’s resident card writer.

Describing herself as an intuitive child, perhaps in a family that did not truly understand intuition, words were her outlet. She continued to hone her skills as she grew, and her mother encouraged the habit, although the expectation to marry and have a traditional family life was still there.

After growing up in Detroit, Albert married in 1957 and moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan where she had four children with her late husband, Jim, who died in 2010 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.

Albert says her children are her greatest creative gifts, and she’s grateful to have had her family while also being able to pursue her passions.

“I think creativity saved my life, and my sanity, frankly,” she said.

Since publication in McCall’s and The Wall Street Journal in the 1960s, Albert’s poems and essays have appeared internationally in numerous magazines, journals and anthologies. She is a recipient of the Atlanta Review Merit Award, an Olivet College Sonnet Competition prize and three Dyer-Ives Foundation Poetry Prizes.

She has also dedicated her life to learning, studying topics of spirituality, mythology and psychology among others. Albert has a master certification in Neuro-Linguistics and is a certified Archetypal Pattern Analyst. She has also been a life coach, writing mentor, realtor, listening skills consultant, theater director, actor and much more.

“My mom is a savant and is always thriving and excelling and doing some special project,” said Albert’s son, Robert. “Whenever I was talking with friends or just observing, it was like ‘What is my mom up to this time?’”

Robert, 55, is the youngest of Albert’s children, and he proudly described his mother as a “force” and “larger than life.” Albert’s friend, Mary Braxton-Joseph mimicked those thoughts.

“I am in awe, because not only did you have four kids, and then at some point in your married life, your husband developed a condition that required a lot of your time and energy, but you kept improving, you kept taking courses,” said Braxton-Joseph in a conversation with Albert. “I just think it takes a special kind of drive and determination.”

The family moved to Florida in 2004 after being snowbirds on Longboat Key since 1998. Her children have since grown and moved to various locations across the country, but each of them have plans to see the stage adaptation of their mother’s work.

Albert now lives at the Sarasota Bay Club and has been a resident since 2019. To learn more about her and her work, visit her website. For information on scheduling a performance, contact Sondra Musicante at malsandra@comcast.net.

Sarah Owens is a reporter for the Community News Collaborative. Connect with her at slowens@cncfl.org

Woman smiling with a butterfly on her hand
Mike Vega
Linda Albert says her ability to be creative throughout life has likely kept her sane.