Florida

In 1928, Florida established a state poet laureate position, which is currently held by Peter Meinke, who was appointed to a four-year term in 2015. Meinke is the author of over twenty books of poetry, including Lucky Bones (Pitt Poetry Series, 2014). 

 

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Florida poet laureaute
Peter Meinke

Peter Meinke was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1932. After receiving a BA from Hamilton College in 1955, he spent two years in the United States Army and two years teaching English at a high school in New Jersey. He then attended the University of Michigan, receiving his MA in literature in 1961, and the University of Minnesota, receiving his PhD in 1965.

Meinke published his first poetry collection, The Night Train & the Golden Bird (University of Pittsburgh Press), in 1976. His other books of poetry include Lucky Bones (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2014), The Contracted World: New & More Selected Poems (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2006), and Zinc Fingers (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2000).

Meinke is also the author of two short story collections, including The Piano Tuner (University of Georgia Press, 1986), winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction in 1986. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Fulbright Program.

In 2015 Meinke was appointed to a four-year term as the poet laureate of Florida, after serving as the first poet laureate of St. Petersburg, Florida. He serves as a professor emeritus at Eckerd College after directing the Writing Workshop there for many years. He lives in St. Petersburg, Florida.


 
Selected Bibliography

Poetry
Lucky Bones (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2014)
Lines from Neuchâtel (University of Tampa Press, 2009)
The Contracted World: New & More Selected Poems (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2006)
Zinc Fingers (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2000)
The Night Train & the Golden Bird (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1976)

Prose
The Piano Tuner (University of Georgia Press, 1986)

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The Emperor of Ice-Cream

Call the roller of big cigars,
The muscular one, and bid him whip
In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.
Let the wenches dawdle in such dress
As they are used to wear, and let the boys
Bring flowers in last month's newspapers.
Let be be finale of seem.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

Take from the dresser of deal,
Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheet
On which she embroidered fantails once
And spread it so as to cover her face.
If her horny feet protrude, they come
To show how cold she is, and dumb.
Let the lamp affix its beam.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

The Idea of Order at Key West

She sang beyond the genius of the sea.
The water never formed to mind or voice,
Like a body wholly body, fluttering
Its empty sleeves; and yet its mimic motion
Made constant cry, caused constantly a cry,
That was not ours although we understood,
Inhuman, of the veritable ocean.

The sea was not a mask.  No more was she.
The song and water were not medleyed sound
Even if what she sang was what she heard.
Since what she sang was uttered word by word.
It may be that in all her phrases stirred
The grinding water and the gasping wind;
But it was she and not the sea we heard.

For she was the maker of the song she sang.
The ever-hooded, tragic-gestured sea
Was merely a place by which she walked to sing.
Whose spirit is this?  we said, because we knew
It was the spirit that we sought and knew
That we should ask this often as she sang.

If it was only the dark voice of the sea
That rose, or even colored by many waves;
If it was only the outer voice of sky
And cloud, of the sunken coral water-walled,
However clear, it would have been deep air,
The heaving speech of air, a summer sound
Repeated in a summer without end
And sound alone.  But it was more than that,
More even than her voice, and ours, among
The meaningless plungings of water and the wind,
Theatrical distances, bronze shadows heaped
On high horizons, mountainous atmospheres
Of sky and sea.
                      It was her voice that made
The sky acutest at its vanishing.
She measured to the hour its solitude.
She was the single artificer of the world
In which she sang.  And when she sang, the sea,
Whatever self it had, became the self
That was her song, for she was the maker.  Then we,
As we beheld her striding there alone,
Knew that there never was a world for her
Except the one she sang and, singing, made.

Ramon Fernandez, tell me, if you know,
Why, when the singing ended and we turned
Toward the town, tell why the glassy lights,
The lights in the fishing boats at anchor there,
As night descended, tilting in the air,
Mastered the night and portioned out the sea,
Fixing emblazoned zones and fiery poles,
Arranging, deepening, enchanting night.

Oh!  Blessed rage for order, pale Ramon,
The maker's rage to order words of the sea,
Words of the fragrant portals, dimly-starred,
And of ourselves and of our origins,
In ghostlier demarcations, keener sounds.

The Philosopher in Florida

Midsummer lies on this town 
like a plague: locusts now replaced 
by humidity, the bloodied Nile

now an algae-covered rivulet 
struggling to find its terminus. 
Our choice is a simple one:

to leave or to remain, to render 
the Spanish moss a memory 
or to pull it from trees, repeatedly.

And this must be what the young 
philosopher felt, the pull of a dialectic so basic 
the mind refuses, normally,

to take much notice of it. 
Outside, beyond a palm-tree fence, 
a flock of ibis mounts the air,

our concerns ignored 
by their quick white wings.
Feathered flashes reflected in water,

the bending necks of the cattails:
the landscape feels nothing—
it repeats itself with or without us.