St. Petersburg Poet Wins Prestigious Award
By TB Reporter
Peter Meinke, who is Florida’s Poet Laureate, is honored by the William Meredith Foundation.
ST, PETERSBURG — The William Meredith Foundation has presented the 2017 Award in Poetry to Peter Meinke, current Florida Poet Laureate and professor emeritus from Eckerd College. The award has no application process, but comes to the author unsolicited in the spirit of generosity that informed Meredith’s interactions with the world of poetry when he judged competitions and supported new talent.
Of his own poems, Meinke has said, “They vary widely, but there’s always some humor lurking nearby. It’s basically a dark view of the world, but a reasonably cheerful take on it. Politics is in there, and anti-war poems, though I try not to sound like I’m preaching.” And elsewhere: “You have to remember that even the poets who live in garrets are citizens, and I urge them to use their voices and partake in the actual goings-on of our country.”
Meredith and Meinke were friends in Washington when Meredith was the U.S. Poet Laureate. Both men share a belief in the accessibility and utility of poetry in living fuller lives. An earlier Meinke collection of essays, Truth And Affection, discusses the importance of such an aesthetics in the world’s challenging landscape.
Meinke has published eight books of poems in the prestigious Pitt Poetry Series, the most recent being Lucky Bones (2014). His first book of short stories, The Piano Tuner (U. of Georgia Press, 1986), received the Flannery O’Connor Award; his second, Unheard Music, was published in 2007 by Jefferson Press. In the last few years, the University of Tampa has published Lines from Neuchâtel: 35th Anniversary Edition (2009), The Shape of Poetry: A Practical Guide to Writing & Reading Poems (2012), and Truth and Affection: The “Poet’s Notebook” columns from Creative Loafing (2013), all illustrated by his wife Jeanne Meinke, along with a collection of Jeanne’s drawings from The New Yorker and other publications. Meinke’s latest non-poetry book is The Expert Witness: 26 short stories with 26 drawings (U. of Tampa Press, 2016).
Meinke’s work has appeared in Poetry, The Atlantic, The New Republic, The New Yorker and dozens of literary magazines; and has received numerous awards, including two NEA Fellowships, three prizes from the Poetry Society of America and two O’Henry Awards, among many others.
Novelist and critic Doris Grumbach has said of his work, “Whatever his subject, Meinke is a skilled, wildly imaginative writer who loves the climactic epiphanies that terminate his terrifying situations.”
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