Florida Man: Poems in the Courtyard

On Tuesday, March 12th, I launched Florida Man: Poems, Revisited (Burrow Press) with Chad Mize and Gloria Muñoz at Tombolo Books.

The bookstore set up its glorious courtyard for the event because we’re in the window right before it’s too hot for pleasant outside events

“What kind of music should we play?” a bookseller asked when I arrived.

“Rihanna,” I said, without hesitation.

Soon the popstar’s “We Found Love” played over the outside speakers. The song is one of my favorites of hers. It reminds me of summers on the dancefloor.



The game plan was for me to read a few poems and leave time so Gloria could ask Chad and me questions about the local art and literary communities. 

At 7, events coordinator Kelsey Jagneaux turned down the Rihanna playlist to introduce me. I took the mic and began my reading with “hot girl summer sonnet.” I wrote the poem after an astrology workshop led by Lorraine Monteagut (author of Brujas) in Tombolo’s courtyard.

I read other poems like the collection’s “Florida Man (a self-portrait)” and “heat advisory,” the title poem for the collection’s added section of 20 new poems. 



As I finished my reading, the moon came out to play as Gloria asked us questions. She started with fun ones like “pickleball or shuffleboard” (my answer: shuffleboard) and moved on to more serious questions — about making political art and ways to sustain an artistic life.  

A lot is changing in the Tampa Bay area, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult for artists and writers, or basically anyone to afford rent (let alone buy a house). 

Chad gave us insight into the ways he’s been able to sustain himself as a working artist. He diversifies his output — from murals to merch like his iconic “World Tour” shirt (the Paris, London, Tokyo, St. Pete one you’ve seen around town). 



I think it’s going to be important for us to continually strengthen our creative coalitions across disciplines in the coming years. I hope the night helped extend the discussions many of us are having throughout the city. 

Before I close this post, I want to thank everyone who came out to the event, bought the book, or supported me in other ways for this book. I especially want to thank Tombolo Books for all the work they do to support (local) authors. They’re a big part of what makes this writing scene so vibrant. 

I feel grateful to be a part of a community full of talent and dedicated to the artistic cause in Florida. 


(all photos courtesy of Tombolo’s Katherine Betzer)

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