Times book editor
It has been a sterling few weeks for one of our local literary treasures, the University of Tampa Press. The small but prestigious press, based at the University of Tampa and directed by professor and poet Richard Matthews, has announced the winner of its 2010 Tampa Review Prize for Poetry. Dennis Hinrichsen of Lansing, Mich., won for his manuscript Rip-tooth.
Hinrichsen, who has published six other books of poetry, teaches at Lansing Community College and has received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. His award from the UT Press includes a $2,000 cash prize and the simultaneous publication of hardback and paperback editions of Rip-tooth in early 2011.
The 2008 winner of the Tampa Review Prize for Poetry, Benjamin S. Grossberg, and the UT Press recently won a national Lambda Literary Award for Poetry for Grossberg's book Sweet Core Orchard, published by the press last year. Sponsored by the Lambda Literary Foundation, the awards are given annually for literature about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Grossberg teaches at the University of Hartford in Connecticut.
For information about the UT Press' literary journal, the Tampa Review, and guidelines for its poetry prize and Danahy Prize for Fiction, go to www.ut.edu/tampareview.
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Times performing arts critic
Tarpon Springs awarded NEA grant
When it comes to government arts funding, the National Endowment for the Arts carries a lot of prestige, so it's a notable achievement that the city of Tarpon Springs has been awarded $35,000 from the NEA for its Greek Arts Initiative. It shows that the city's traditional Greek culture is something that stands out in the suburban sprawl of the Tampa Bay area.
Directed by folklorist Tina Bucuvalas, the initiative will be highlighted by the Gulf Maritime Festival on March 5, 2011, featuring the Tarpon Springs waterfront, with an emphasis on the sponge-diving industry. The festival also will have music, dance and food associated with maritime cultures.
Other aspects of the initiative include Greek folklife workshops, performances by artists from Kalymnos, Greece, and "Night in the Islands'' presentations with outdoor dining and music on the Sponge Docks.
The Greek band Ellada, consisting of bouzouki player George Soffos, keyboard player Dino Theofilos and vocalist Elias Poulos, will give a free concert on the Sponge Docks from 6 to 11 p.m. July 10. For information, go to www.tarponarts.org.
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Times visual arts critic
When it comes to the arts, think regional
Recently, John Fleming and I were invited to participate in a panel discussion for leaders of arts organizations in St. Petersburg. The group is organized by the city and meets regularly. This month's get-together was at the Morean Arts Center. John and I (along with a local broadcaster and the editor of an alternative newspaper) were asked mostly for advice about getting news out there, but talk also turned to the economic impact of the arts and their importance in attracting visitors to St. Petersburg.
I was born in St. Petersburg and live here. My office is here. But I consider myself a regionalist; I am committed to covering arts news equally throughout west-central Florida.
We drive all over the place all the time to shop, eat, ride roller coasters and watch sporting events. We should be just as willing to do so for an art show that piques our interest.
It's also pragmatic to think of us as part of a region rather than individual cities. If a visitor to Tampa is encouraged to stay an extra night to visit the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, that's more money for both cities. If we can convince a tourist in Clearwater to stay longer and take a day trip to the Ringling in Sarasota . . . You see my point.
This whole idea of regionalism gets a lot of ink. It's the driving force behind the push for both high-speed and light rail. And it's looking like a bitter pill in discussions of a new baseball stadium.
A former city official once said to me, "I don't care about the arts in Tampa. I just care about St. Petersburg."
I countered that he was being shortsighted.
Loyalty to a place is admirable. And one of the greatest loyalties is trying to do what's best for that place in the long run. Regionalism doesn't mean that the unique personalities of each community should be obliterated or even downplayed. They should continue to be celebrated. But for the big things, we need to think collectively. That's how the arts and everything else will grow and thrive.