At this year's Times Festival of Reading, while his wife, Jeanne Meinke, presents illustrations from her book Lines from Wildwood Lane, Peter Meinke, 77, will read poetry from Lines from Neuchatel. Meinke, founding director of the Writers Workshop at Eckerd College, current writer in residence at the University of South Florida and St. Petersburg's first poet laureate, has published work in the New Yorker, Atlantic Poetry and many other publications. Married 53 years, the Meinkes have four children.
What is on your nightstand?
It's always messy. I have a New Yorker and a couple poetry books, including one of Philip Larkin's and The Complete Poems of Emile Nelligan.
Who is Emile Nelligan?
He was a popular young flamboyant poet from Canada, on the poetry scene during the turn of the century. I found the book after we went to Montreal, and we just happened to stay in a hotel named after him.
When writing, do you keep particular poets in mind, or are you aware of your voice only?
I try of course to write in my own voice, but there are two poets that I think of, Howard Nemerov and Philip Larkin. I wrote my Ph.D. on Nemerov. He's passionate, formal, funny, all at the same time.
And what about Larkin?
Besides being a brilliant writer, he can be polished and natural and witty as well. I think of This Be the Verse. The title alluded to Requiem by Robert Louis Stevenson who had that line in the poem. I like the idea of poets working together, handing off poetry through the years.
Can you identify some of your favorite Florida poets?
Florida is filled with good poets. There's Denise Duhamel down at Florida International University, Susan Lilley in Orlando, and a couple in Tallahassee who are both poets, David Kirby and Barbara Hamby.
Piper Castillo, Times staff writer