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Dr. Terri Witek wins Florida Book Award

Terri Witek and Rusty Witek with Florida's First Lady Ann ScottDr. Terri Witek, English professor and director of the Sullivan Creative Writing Program at Stetson University, pictured far right, won the silver award in the Poetry category in the 2012 Florida Book Awards for her book Exit Island (Orchises Press, 2012). Witek was honored along with her husband, Dr. Rusty Witek (left) by Florida’s First Lady Ann Scott at a luncheon at the Governor’s Mansion last month. (Photo by Stacy F. Prato, Photography for Governor Rick Scott.)

The Florida Book Awards is an annual awards program that recognizes, honors, and celebrates the best Florida literature and books about Florida published in the previous year. Begun in 2006, the Florida Book Awards is the most comprehensive state book awards program in the United States, and is the only one with a Spanish Language category. The successes and growth the Florida Book Awards have enjoyed in the last six years are testimony to the quality of authorship and the rich culture of books that exists and continues to prosper in Florida. Each year, winners receive either a gold, silver, or bronze medal within nine different literary categories: Children’s Literature, Florida Nonfiction, General Fiction, General Nonfiction, Poetry, Popular Fiction, Spanish Language, Visual Arts, and Young Adult Literature. For more information about the Florida Book Awards, go to http://floridabookawards.lib.fsu.edu/index.php.

“Terri Witek’s Exit Island is a book of voyages, both terrestrial and temporal—explorations mythical and poetic,” said author Barbara Hamby. “The reigning deities are Ariadne and Fernando Pessoa, and in verse lyrics and experimental. Witek creates a world filled with snake handlers, sea nymphs, sea chants, and mutinies…. Hold on, dear reader, this is a book like no other, a swirling microcosm of the tragic and playful, of betrayal and deep and abiding love.”

Exit Island also features images by visual artist and former Stetson professor Cyriaco Lopes, who now teaches at the City University of New York’s John Jay College.

Witek teaches poetry workshops and literature classes specializing in poetry at Stetson. She is the author of four other collections of poetry: The Shipwreck Dress (Orchises Press, 2008), Carnal World (Story Line Press, 2006), Fools and Crows (Orchises Press, 2003), and Courting Couples (winner of the 2000 Center for Book Arts Contest), as well as a scholarly book, Robert Lowell and LIFE STUDIES: Revising the Self (University of Missouri Press, 1993). She has published poems in SlateThe Hudson ReviewThe New Republic,The American Poetry Review, and other journals, and is the recipient of fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Hawthornden International Writers’ Retreat and the state of Florida. Her poem It was a Pretty Good Book was recently featured on the Poetry Daily website.

More information about Exit Island and other books by Terri Witek can be found on her website at http://terriwitek.com/books/exit-island/.