But 40 years later, she’s finally realizing a dream – and helping veterans along the way.
With retirement looming next March, Anzano-Cannavale, an educator in the Union City public schools, decided this year to focus more on writing again. She has not only earned a volunteer job penning poems for the Greenbriar Times—a monthly paper for an over-55 community in Brick, N.J.--she’s self-published her own collection of short stories and poems, showing it's never too late to accomplish your dreams.
Several of the poems in the book, “Hoppy’s Favorite Poems and Short Stories,” discuss servicemembers. In “An Imaginary Son I’ve Lost,” for instance, Anzano-Cannavale creates a hypothetical son in the Army whom she loses to combat.
Anzano-Cannavale has been close to servicemembers. Her grandfather immigrated to America from Italy and enlisted in the U.S. Army against his own country in World War I, earning a Purple Heart. Her father served as an Army sergeant in the Philippine Isles during the second World War.
Proceeds from the book will benefit former servicemembers. “When I started giving out the book, and when people asked what it cost, I said, 'Just give me a donation. Give me $5, $10, whatever.’” That money will go to three veterans' homes in the state, she said.
So far, Anzano-Cannavale has raised over $700 for veterans through these donations, she said.
Anzano-Cannavale is also president of the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 46.
How the book came about
In the 1970s, she said, “I studied journalism and English, but then my mother thought it wasn't very marketable, so I switched to business and got my degree in marketing. But I've always written over the years. I never published anything, but I kept writing.”
She eventually became an educational support professional at Union City's Robert Waters School. November marked her 25th year there.
“In the summer, in July, my husband bought me a new word processor. I did the whole thing on there, and I was revising and adding poems,” Anzano-Cannavale said of the book's creating process. “I added four more poems and I also added two more short stories. I edited them like 100 times. I rewrote all the stories. I didn't take any breaks, except for lunch.”
Husband Sal paid around $3,000 to publish 300 copies at a Staples in Brick. Though he was a massive help, Anzano-Cannavale cites a muse who requested anonymity as pushing her to create the book.
Craig Page, her niece's boyfriend, edited it.
She has donated the book to libraries in North Bergen and Union City, along with every Union City public school.
The book is a collection of works Anzano-Cannavale crafted over the years, including a poem for her 5-year old bunny rabbit Hoppy, for whom the book is named.
In the short story “High School Ring,” Anzano-Cannavale reminisces on her family's summer trips to the Jersey Shore in the ’70s, and the time her brother located her lost high school ring in the sand at night.
“Tribute to Frank and Joey” honors Anzano-Cannavale's two close friends, both of whom passed away at young ages. “We were like a threesome,” Anzano-Cannvale said. “We were always together.”
For the schools
Anzano-Cannavale plans to bring her book to all North Bergen public schools in the near future. Not to mention taking her dream to the next level.
She and her husband own a house in the Greenbriar community, although they currently live in North Bergen. She wishes to do more for the Greenbriar Times than just penning prose in the coming years.
“I want to be a reporter!” she revealed.
To obtain a copy of “Hoppy's Favorite Poems and Short Stories,” contact Anzano-Cannavale at Ccannavale55@gmail.com.
Hannington Dia can be reached at email@example.com