Monday, October 22, 2018
Books

Florida poet laureate Peter Meinke’s columns are prose to savor

If you think of poets as head-in-the-clouds types, unconcerned with the hurly-burly of real life, Peter Meinke will change your mind.

Meinke, Florida’s poet laureate, often celebrates the quotidian in his poetry, and does so in prose in his latest book, To Start With, Feel Fortunate.

The book is a collection of some of the columns he has written over the past five years for Creative Loafing, an alternative weekly published in Tampa.

Each short essay is sharply focused and framed with a couple of excerpts from poems, by other poets or by Meinke. Their subject matter ranges widely, from the personal — a family piano, memories of travel — to the political, from the local dearth of mass transport to the 2016 presidential race.

Meinke always has his poet’s ear for language well tuned, as in this exchange he reports in the essay "Feminism & Language":

"Man — ‘Well, whenever I say man or mankind, everyone knows that this includes woman, too.’

"Woman — ‘That’s what you think.’?"

The essays are thoughtful and humorous, and as carefully crafted as his verse, even when their subject seems everyday. Take "Our Lady of the Cherries," a column about a trip to the supermarket that turns into a meditation on the motif of cherries that becomes an analysis of the appeal of the tabloids at checkout: "There’s an un-American word to describe this: Schadenfreude, a German mouthful meaning the delight we feel when other lives aren’t a bowl of cherries."

Delicious.

To Start With, Feel Fortunate

By Peter Meinke

Poets’ Choice, 363 pages, $25

Times Festival of Reading

Peter Meinke will be a featured author at the 2017 Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading on Nov. 11 at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. He will speak at 3 p.m. in the Poynter Institute Haiman Amphitheater.

Comments
Novels ‘The Floating World’ and ‘Summer Cannibals’ focus on families in crisis

Novels ‘The Floating World’ and ‘Summer Cannibals’ focus on families in crisis

Debut novels by C. Morgan Babst and Melanie Hobson differ in settings — post-Katrina New Orleans versus a mansion on a Canadian cliff — but both offer insight into complex family dynamics.
Published: 10/19/18
‘Panorama’ author Steve Kistulentz takes a deep dive into reading about Russia

‘Panorama’ author Steve Kistulentz takes a deep dive into reading about Russia

After publishing his first novel this year, the director of the St. Leo University creative writing program is researching his next book with fiction and nonfiction about post-Cold War Russia.
Published: 10/19/18
David Small’s ‘Home After Dark’ a powerful graphic novel about adolescence

David Small’s ‘Home After Dark’ a powerful graphic novel about adolescence

Although it’s set in the 1960s, the book’s story of a young teen’s struggle with bullying and homelessness is as urgent as ever.
Published: 10/15/18
Updated: 10/17/18
Jeff Klinkenberg is reading Lauren Groff, Tara Westover and Gary Shteyngart

Jeff Klinkenberg is reading Lauren Groff, Tara Westover and Gary Shteyngart

Former Times Real Florida columnist Jeff Klinkenberg is enjoying fiction and memoir by women writers and looking forward to meeting novelist Gary Shteyngart at the Times Festival of Reading.
Published: 10/12/18
Review: G. Neri’s ‘Grand Theft Horse’ a thrilling true tale of a woman on a mission

Review: G. Neri’s ‘Grand Theft Horse’ a thrilling true tale of a woman on a mission

The real-life main character of "Grand Theft Horse," a new graphic biography for middle-grade readers, gave up almost everything to rescue a racehorse she trained.
Updated one month ago
Gernhard biographer Bill DeYoung finds little new in Petty bio

Gernhard biographer Bill DeYoung finds little new in Petty bio

Bill DeYoungDeYoung is the author of Phil Gernhard, Record Man, a biography of a record producer with ties to St. Petersburg whose hits included Stay and Snoopy vs. the Red Baron. When we caught up with him recently, DeYoung explained his interest ca...
Updated one month ago
Review: Grief turns into danger in Lisa Unger’s thriller ‘Under My Skin’

Review: Grief turns into danger in Lisa Unger’s thriller ‘Under My Skin’

Grief is sometimes akin to madness. The loss of a loved one can knock our world off its rails for a while, until we find a new way to live. But for Poppy Lang, a young widow still struggling a year after the unsolved murder of her husband, sanity see...
Updated one month ago