Poetry might be one of the most under-appreciated art forms. There are no poetry concert halls and certainly no poetry museums. But that doesn’t have to stop you from enjoying the written word. Tampa Bay is home to some nationally recognized poets that have published books and performed locally to share their gifts with the community. Read on to learn about some of the Bay’s best poets.
Tampa resident Enid Shomer has won a multitude of awards for both her poetry and fiction works, including the Celia Wagner Award of the Poetry Society of America, the Eve of St. Agnes Prize, the Wildwood Prize and, most recently, the Lifetime Achievement Award. Over 50 anthologies and textbooks used in classrooms across the country showcase her essays, short stories and poetry for young readers and writers to emulate. She has published both novels and poetry collections, including “Black Drum,” “Stars and Noon” and “Imaginary Men.”
Cuban-born Silvia Curbelo has authored three collections of poetry: “The Geography of Leaving,” “The Secret History of Water” and the winner of the 2004 Main Street Rag Chapbook contest, “Ambush.” Her poems have been featured in literary journals and over two dozen anthologies, including “Norton’s Anthology of Latino Literature.” Her poems have snatched up two prestigious awards – the Jessica Nobel-Maxwell Memorial Prize from the American Poetry Review and the Atlantic Center for the Arts Cultural Exchange Fellowship to La Napoule Arts Foundation in France. She has also received fellowships from both state and national organizations for her work.
Peter Meinke resides in St. Petersburg and makes appearances in the Tampa Bay area for poetry readings. Critics have described his poems as “sly,” “witty,” “passionate” and “entertaining.” He has published 14 books, seven of which are collections of poetry and one of which is a practical guide for aspiring poets. He has a shelf full of awards for his work, including the 2009 Award of Excellence from the Southeastern Library Association and the 2001 Southeast Booksellers Association Award for “Best Book of Poetry of the Year.”
Related: Best Local Authors In Tampa Bay
Don Morrill holds three degrees, including a Ph.D. from the University of Florida. He is currently the Associate Dean of Graduate and Continuing Studies at the University of Tampa and teaches courses in composition, poetry writing, nonfiction writing, literature and media studies. He is the author of four non-fiction books and two volumes of poetry titled “At the Bottom of the Sky” and “With Your Back to Half the Day.” He has won eight honors and awards, including the Anne Halley Poetry Prize from The Massachusetts Review and the Writer’s Voice Community Residency Award. Aside from his courses in UT, he has lectured as far away as China and as close to home as the University of South Florida.
James Tokley is the City of Tampa’s first official Poet Laureate and has also been cited as the Poet Laureate of the National Urban League by former president John E. Jacob. His poem “Song of the Hillsborough” was selected to represent Hillsborough County during the millennium celebration and was also selected as a part of the White House Millennium exhibit. He has also performed his work with the Florida Symphony Orchestra, once in 2000 and again in 2006.
Amanda Mole has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil and cooking since she was tall enough to reach the stove. She believes that food provides more than just vital nutrients: it is an irreplaceable part of countless cultural and social activities. As a Tampa Bay resident for the past 21 years, she is well acquainted with the incredibly diverse range of restaurants, bars, and food festivals that the area has to offer. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.