Gov. Rick Scott has named an Eckerd College professor Florida’s Poet Laureate. Peter Meinke is an emeritus professor of literature who has been with the private liberal arts college since 1966.
Meinke currently serves as the St. Pete Poet Laureate, a post he’s held since 2009. That term ends this year.
Meinke received the call Monday informing him that he would be the state’s fourth Poet Laureate. The position has remained vacant since Meinke’s predecessor, Edmnd Skellings, passed away in 2012.
“I’m very excited,” Meinke said. “It was a bit of a shock, though.”
The honorary position is established to promote appreciation of poetry through both reading and writing and encourages students to use the art to express themselves.
Meinke said rather than lecture on poetry he plans to organize poetry readings all around the state.
“People will tell me, I’m sure, what to do, but in my experience people really do like poetry readings,’’ Meinke said. “When I read a poem, I talk to people about it, and it’s very relaxed.”
Meinke said he’ll be reading at as many places as possible – many of them schools.
“It’s been my experience that when I read poetry to them that they almost always like it,” he said.
Meinke has published 18 books and collections including poetry, both fiction and nonfiction and children’s fiction. His work has appeared in publications like The New Republic, The New Yoker and Atlantic.
Meinke’s resume also boasts several awards including two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, three awards from the Poetry Society of America and a Flannery O’Connor Award for fiction.
The poet will be the keynote speaker at the national convention of the Federation of State Poetry Societies in St. Petersburg on June 26.
Meinke was nominated for the position. His term is four years.