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Colette Bancroft, Times Book Editor

Colette Bancroft

Colette Bancroft is the book editor of the Tampa Bay Times. She joined the Times in 1997 and has been a news editor, general assignment features writer and food and travel writer, as well as a frequent contributor of reviews of books, theater and other arts. She became book editor in 2007. Before joining the Times, Bancroft was a reporter and editor at the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson and an instructor in the English departments of the University of South Florida and the University of Arizona. Bancroft grew up in Tampa.

Phone: (727) 893-8435


  1. Notable: Prose on poetry



    Prose on poetry

    April is Poetry Month, a perfect time for these books on the subject by three splendid writers.

    On Elizabeth Bishop (Princeton University Press) by Colm Toíbín is the accomplished Irish novelist's literary biography of the powerful, enigmatic American poet who greatly influenced his writing, and that of many others.

    Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World (Alfred A. Knopf) by Jane Hirshfield, who is a critic and translator of poetry as well as a prize-winning poet, combines her eloquent close readings with wide-ranging scholarship for a fresh look at poetry. ...

  2. Closing the book on 'Mad Men'

    The Feed

    Could the great American novel be a TV series? • If we can define the great American novel as one that illuminates the culture and concerns of an era in our history in a compelling and well-wrought narrative, Mad Men might well count. • The first episode of the second half of Season 7, the final season of Mad Men, premieres tonight, and viewing it brought that comparison to mind for me, not for the first time. • Since Mad Men premiered on July 19, 2007, its average audience has never topped 3 million viewers, but its cultural influence has been outsized. It won glowing critical acclaim and scored 15 Emmys. It inspired fashion and decor and an ocean of craft cocktails, and it made stars of its cast, almost all of whom were unknowns. (When the show premiered, the best-known actor in the cast was Robert Morse, who played Bert Cooper until he soft-shoed off to the afterlife during the first half of the last season.) • What made Mad Men different from a thousand other series? Lots of things, but I'd argue that one of the most important is that writer-director-producer Matthew Weiner has created it as if it were a novel, shaping and deepening it in ways that few TV series can match. • Actual books have regularly appeared on screen in Mad Men — something of a rarity on TV — playing a role in the series' meticulous period authenticity and often telling us something about the people reading them. We've seen main character Don Draper reading everything from Frank O'Hara's Meditations in an Emergency to Philip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint. Tonight's episode gives us a mysterious character engrossed in John Dos Passos' U.S.A. trilogy, which is, among other things, an epic critique of the capitalism the characters thrive upon....

    The characters on Mad Men have captured an era, and sold us a story. 
From left are Kiernan Shipka as Sally Draper, January Jones as Betty Francis, Jessica Pare as Megan Draper and Jon Hamm as Don Draper.
  3. Cuban Sangwich Show celebrates Tampa art, literature


    MUY SABROSO: Cuban Sangwich Show

    "All Tampa. All Art. No Mayo" is the motto of this whimsical celebration of the city and its most famous culinary treat.

    The Cuban Sangwich Show (the spelling approximates how Tampa's Cuban residents pronounced the word back in the day) opens Wednesday — April Fools' Day — with a Tampa-themed art exhibition, performances by singer-songwriter Ronny Elliott and actor Jorge Acosta, and a reading of Tampa poet laureate James B. Tokley's Epic of the Sandwiche Cubano. ...

    The show will feature a reading of Tampa poet laureate James B. Tokley's Epic of the Sandwiche Cubano. [Times files 2007]
  4. Review: 'H Is for Hawk' a soaring memoir of loss, love and wildness


    In many cultures across the centuries, Helen Macdonald tells us, hawks and falcons have been seen as messengers between two worlds: the world of the living and that of the dead.

    A raptor serves just such a purpose in Macdonald's stunning memoir, H Is for Hawk. In it, she tells the riveting story of how she coped with the sudden death of her beloved father: by immersing herself in the long and difficult process of training a goshawk, one of the largest and fiercest birds of prey used in falconry....

  5. Notable: Seeking Jesus



    Seeking Jesus

    With Easter approaching, here are books factual and fictional about Jesus Christ.

    Christ Actually: The Son of God for the Secular Age (Viking) by James Carroll is the Roman Catholic historian's deeply informed interpretation of what we know about Jesus, how we know it and what it all means in the 21st century.

    The Fifth Gospel (Simon & Schuster) by Ian Caldwell is a fictional thriller set in the Vatican and revolving around the murder of the curator of an exhibition related to the Shroud of Turin and its links to the little-known gospel of the title....

  6. Events: Randy Wayne White to sign 'Cuba Straits'


    Book Talk

    Bestselling author Randy Wayne White (Cuba Straits) will discuss and sign his thriller at 1 p.m. today at Haslam's Book Store, 2025 Central Ave., St. Petersburg.

    Presented by the University of South Florida Humanities Institute, Palestinian-American poet Naomi Shihab Nye (Tender Spot) will read from her work at 6 p.m. Monday in Marshall Student Center 4200 at the University of South Florida, 4202 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. Nye will appear on a panel with fellow Arab-American poets Sueir Hammad, Tahani Salah and Amir Rabiyah at 6 p.m. Wednesday in MSC 4200....

  7. Get out your tartans for Dunedin Highland Games are this weekend


    BAGPIPE BATTLES: Dunedin Highland Games

    Get out your tartans, laddies and lasses: Dunedin celebrates its Scottish roots all day Saturday with this giant annual event. Starting at 8 a.m., it features 14 bands and 38 clans, competitions in Highland games and heavy athletics, Scottish bagpiping and drumming, pipe bands and Highland dancing. There will also be a sheepdog demonstration, a tug-o-war, kids' activities, Scottish wares, food and drink....

    Times files (2009)
  8. Review: Join Doc Ford for an exhilarating trip in 'Cuba Straits'


    In 1980, an American with well-honed marine skills and some interesting personal connections went to Cuba when the Mariel Boatlift began, coming back about a week later "on a 55-foot grouper boat overloaded with 147 people who, when we raised Boca Chica, took up this chant: Libertad ... Libertad ... Liberty."

    If you are a fan of Randy Wayne White's popular novels, you might think that sounds like one of the adventures of his series character Marion "Doc" Ford, whose career as a marine biologist based in Sanibel is cover for his work as a kind of Florida version of James Bond, spyware, license to kill and all....

    1. Author Randy Wayne White, Sanibel, poses at his home, 2/20/13. His latest book is called Night Moves.
  9. Review: Richard Blanco's memoir 'Prince of Los Cocuyos' a dance between two cultures


    Poet Richard Blanco has never lived in Cuba, but his family's roots there shaped his life in countless ways as he grew up in a Florida suburb in the 1970s and '80s. He tells the story of that American boyhood in his engaging memoir, The Prince of Los Cocuyos.

    Blanco, who was conceived in Cuba just before his family fled the island, born in Spain during their brief stay there en route to the United States and raised in Miami, grew up to be a civil engineer and an accomplished poet. In January 2013, Blanco became the fifth poet to read his work at a U.S. presidential inauguration. He was also the first Latino poet to do so, and the first immigrant poet, and the first openly gay poet — and, at age 44, the youngest....

    President Barack Obama greets poet Richard Blanco, left, after Blanco’s reading of the poem One Today at the U.S. presidential inauguration in January 2013.
  10. Notable: Women's world



    Women's world

    In honor of Women's History Month, here are memoirs by women succeeding in fields long dominated by men.

    Girl in a Band (Dey Street Books) by Kim Gordon, founding member of punk rock band Sonic Youth and inspiration to a generation of young women, is a lively memoir about her career in music and visual art as well as her personal life. ...

  11. Toni Morrison receives standing ovation, lifetime achievement award at critics' book awards


    NEW YORK — A book awards ceremony might not be the place you would expect to hear a whooping, whistling standing ovation. But that's what happened Thursday night when Toni Morrison took the stage at the National Book Critics Circle awards at the New School's Tishman Auditorium.

    Morrison, 84, received the NBCC's Ivan Sandrof award for her lifetime of achievement in literature. The award honors not only her extraordinary fiction, which includes Beloved and nine other novels, and has earned her the Nobel Prize, but her work as an editor, essayist and critic and her status as an American cultural icon and influence....

    Nobel laureate Toni Morrison speaks during a memorial tribute for Maya Angelou in 2014 in New York. Morrison, 84, received the NBCC’s Ivan Sandrof award for her lifetime of achievement in literature at the National Book Critics Circle awards Thursday.
  12. Notable: of Irish women



    Of Irish women

    In a week when everyone is a bit Irish, here are novels about female characters by acclaimed contemporary Irish writers.

    Academy Street (Farrar Straus & Giroux) by Mary Costello is a widely praised first novel that follows the complex inner life of a woman from her childhood in Ireland to her adult life in America and her return home decades later. ...

  13. Events: Antiquarian Book Fair runs through March 15


    Book Talk

    The inaugural SunLit Festival continues through today with these events.

    • 11 a.m.-4 p.m.: The 34th annual Florida Antiquarian Book Fair brings more than 100 book dealers together for this event, with rare and unusual books, maps, photographs and more. The Coliseum, 535 Fourth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. Tickets cost $6.

    • 2 p.m.: Pass the Plate: The Florida Holocaust Museum Passover Cookoff will feature cookbook author Joanne Caras (The Holocaust Survivor Cookbook) and tastings of dishes made from recipes from local survivors, with the public voting for favorites. Florida Holocaust Museum, 55 Fifth St. S, St. Petersburg....

  14. Tampa Bay Beer Week events, Thursday through Sunday

    Bars & Spirits

    In a serendipitous conjunction with St. Patrick's Day, Tampa Bay Beer Week is showcasing local craft brewers, distributors, taverns, brew pubs, restaurants and home brewers. It continues through Sunday with dozens of events all around the area.

    The legendary Hunahpu's Day is totally sold out, but here are a few picks. For a complete list of events, go to

    Sausage Fest...

    LEAH MILLIS | Times (04/28/12 Pinellas Park) Brent Morgan of Barley Mow Brewing Company fills up a sample glass with beer during Cajun Cafe on the Bayou's Annual Spring Craft Beer Festival April 28, 2012 at the Cafe in Pinellas Park. The event offers about 200 different beers to taste, live music and a raffle to benefit Dunedin Doggie Rescue. The admission cost was $55 and $15 for a designated driver. [Leah Millis | Times]
  15. Dennis Lehane talks about 'World Gone By,' why we love outlaws


    "I'm done with Tampa," Dennis Lehane says.

    "Somebody else please pick up the Tampa mantle. There's so much to do."

    Lehane's new novel, World Gone By, to be published Tuesday, is the last in his trilogy about fictional Boston-born gangster Joe Coughlin and the second set in Tampa, mainly Ybor City. Its predecessor, Live by Night, took place there during Prohibition; World Gone By picks up Coughlin's story in 1942....

    “I always thought if Boston and New Orleans had a baby, it would be Ybor City,” says Dennis Lehane, a native Bostonian.