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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Fabliau of Florida

Barque of phosphor
On the palmy beach,

Move outward into heaven,
Into the alabasters
And night blues.

Foam and cloud are one.
Sultry moon-monsters
Are dissolving.

Fill your black hull
With white moonlight.

There will never be an end
To this droning of the surf.

Looking for The Gulf Motel

                             Marco Island, Florida

There should be nothing here I don't remember . . .

The Gulf Motel with mermaid lampposts
and ship's wheel in the lobby should still be
rising out of the sand like a cake decoration.
My brother and I should still be pretending
we don't know our parents, embarrassing us
as they roll the luggage cart past the front desk
loaded with our scruffy suitcases, two-dozen
loaves of Cuban bread, brown bags bulging
with enough mangos to last the entire week,
our espresso pot, the pressure cooker—and
a pork roast reeking garlic through the lobby.
All because we can't afford to eat out, not even
on vacation, only two hours from our home
in Miami, but far enough away to be thrilled
by whiter sands on the west coast of Florida,
where I should still be for the first time watching
the sun set instead of rise over the ocean.

There should be nothing here I don't remember . . .

My mother should still be in the kitchenette
of The Gulf Motel, her daisy sandals from Kmart
squeaking across the linoleum, still gorgeous
in her teal swimsuit and amber earrings
stirring a pot of arroz-con-pollo, adding sprinkles
of onion powder and dollops of tomato sauce.
My father should still be in a terrycloth jacket
smoking, clinking a glass of amber whiskey
in the sunset at the Gulf Motel, watching us
dive into the pool, two boys he'll never see
grow into men who will be proud of him.

There should be nothing here I don't remember . . .

My brother and I should still be playing Parcheesi,
my father should still be alive, slow dancing
with my mother on the sliding-glass balcony
of The Gulf Motel. No music, only the waves
keeping time, a song only their minds hear
ten-thousand nights back to their life in Cuba.
My mother's face should still be resting against
his bare chest like the moon resting on the sea,
the stars should still be turning around them.

There should be nothing here I don't remember . . .

My brother should still be thirteen, sneaking
rum in the bathroom, sculpting naked women
from sand. I should still be eight years old
dazzled by seashells and how many seconds
I hold my breath underwater—but I'm not.
I am thirty-eight, driving up Collier Boulevard,
looking for The Gulf Motel, for everything
that should still be, but isn't. I want to blame
the condos, their shadows for ruining the beach
and my past, I want to chase the snowbirds away
with their tacky mansions and yachts, I want
to turn the golf courses back into mangroves,
I want to find The Gulf Motel exactly as it was
and pretend for a moment, nothing lost is lost.


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.