Mayor Ken Welch and the St. Petersburg City Council will honor poet and educator Gloria Muñoz at Thursday’s meeting, naming her the city’s newest poet laureate.
Muñoz, who teaches creative writing at Eckerd College, is the author of Danzirly, winner of the 2019 Ambroggio Prize from the Academy of American Poets and the Gold Medal of the Florida Book Award. His handwriting appeared in Puerto del Sol, VIDA Review, Acentos Review, Lumina, the Rumpus, Yes Poetry and elsewhere.
“I’m thrilled to see how St. Pete embraced the arts,” said Muñoz, a St. Petersburg native and daughter of Colombian-American immigrants. “And I’m thrilled to be the first Latina in this role. I think that says a lot about the city where we are and where we’re going.
“As we have seen in the wake of the pandemic, there are changes that need to be addressed in terms of racial and social division – and I am very, very happy to be part of that change in St. helping bring to light the voices of BIPOC and also work in a more intergenerational way.
Muñoz succeeds Helen Pruitt Wallace, who was named Saint Petersburg Poet Laureate in 2016.
“Our new Poet Laureate will help shine the spotlight on St. Petersburg as a city of artists and writers,” said Celeste Davis, the city’s director of arts, culture and tourism. “Having an advocate for creative writing and literature will allow the city to better express artistic experiences that are accessible to everyone in our community.
“It’s important to give voice to the unique and inclusive experiences of St. Pete – and Gloria Muñoz will do just that.”
Muñoz was not entirely clear what his responsibilities as poet laureate would be. “But I understand that I am someone who is a champion of poetry for the city. That is, everyone in town.
“That means working with educational programs, working with adults and maybe with our older community and our immigrant community, finding programs that have long arms that become roots after a while. So that at the end of my mandate, they will be established.
Peter Meinke was named St. Petersburg’s first Poet Laureate in 2009.