Tampa's YellowJacket Press celebrates 10 years of publishing Florida poetry

Published Dec. 2, 2015

Tampa's own YellowJacket Press is celebrating its 10th anniversary, and that's important for Florida readers because this small press is devoted to publishing just one thing: work by Florida poets.

Since Tampa poet and teacher Gianna Russo founded it in 2005, YellowJacket — an all-volunteer nonprofit operating on a shoestring budget — has published 30 chapbooks, each one by a different Florida poet.

To celebrate a decade of publishing, YellowJacket has a new book, its first anthology and largest collection of poems ever. Glass Bottom Sky.

Edited by two Tampa Bay area poets, Silvia Curbelo and Gregory Byrd, the book gathers at least two poems by each of the 30 poets the press has published, as well as another 17 poems by the press' board members.

The poets whose work appears in the book include Florida poet laureate Peter Meinke, Tampa poet laureate James Tokley and a number of other poets who live in the Tampa Bay area, such as Michael Bates, Cole Bellamy, Wendy Buffington, Melissa Carroll, Melissa Fair, Thomas Hallock, Rhonda J. Nelson, Katherine Reigel and Enid Shomer.

The poems range widely in subject and style, from Susan Lilley's funny, sexy Aging Bride Considers Her Checkered Past to Heather Sellers' poignant Schizophrenia in Florida, from Richard Downing's laconic Rites to Rachel Fogarty's lushly dreamlike Gallus Gallus and Florida Flowers.

As Russo writes in her introduction to Glass Bottom Sky, "Our hope and intention is that it will help preserve Florida's poetic heritage of the early 21st century."

YellowJacket will also celebrate its 10th year with a party — and, of course, poetry readings — at 6 p.m. Saturday at Upward Spiral Center, 6718 N Nebraska Ave., Tampa.