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). 

In 2017, Susan Lilley was appointed as the inaugural poet laureate of Orlando, Florida.

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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

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)

The Piano Tuner (University of Georgia Press, 1986)

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After The I Hate to Cook Cookbook (1961)
How scattered I am: post-spouse, with company coming;
in Florida in my earthquake gown, in my eelskin slingbacks
and electric mink stole. I tried to make
puff paste with sweating hands; butter
in the KitchenAid, covered in Everglaze;
apocalyptic looking and no one to stall.
Now egret feathers and alligators and gas
are gone; polar fur coats are all vintage
or bottle jobs and the corn is crawling even in the Bracken
and the Glades. But I'm up and dressed, at least; I make
of this doctored lambskin a dish of myself: big hair,
lippy, a little bit lush, maybe even horny. I'm going
to breathe in and replate the take-out
again, shake cocktails. I'm going to spread swampy,
an idea, a mangrove of the air.

The Everglades

Green and blue and white, it is a flag
for Florida stitched by hungry ibises.

It is a paradise of flocks, a cornucopia
of wind and grass and dark, slow waters.

Turtles bask in the last tatters of afternoon,
frogs perfect their symphony at dusk—

in its solitude we remember ourselves,
dimly, as creatures of mud and starlight.

Clouds and savannahs and horizons,
its emptiness is an antidote, its ink

illuminates the manuscript of the heart.
It is not ours though it is ours

to destroy or preserve, this the kingdom
of otter, kingfisher, alligator, heron.

If the sacred is a river within us, let it flow
like this, serene and magnificent, forever.


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.