Florida Man: Poems by Tyler Gillespie
“Tyler Gillespie’s Florida Man poems strip away the accepted myths of Florida and its inhabitants, using a lyric mix of journalism, science, history, family lore, and lived experience to reveal the complex realities of self and state… In Gillespie’s excellent Florida Man, redemption is wondrously messy and surprising.”
– Abigail Beckel, co-founder and publisher of Rose Metal Press
“An essential tribute to the Sunshine State’s sometimes joyous and sometimes morbid strangeness. Like an alligator, this book clamps down on you with such sheer force that you won't be able to pull away.”
– Ariel Francisco, All My Heroes Are Broke
“This is a rollicking ride through the craziness that erupts all day and night, but Gillespie’s poems have as much tenderness as absurdity. This is the side of Florida that only a true poet can illuminate.”
– Barbara Hamby, Bird Odyssey
“Florida Man develops into a kind of quest narrative, where investigative feature writing and lineated poetry team up to get to the bottom of what they repeatedly recognize as bottomless: past, place, and self. Native yet wild, the stories these poems tell you will haunt you.”
– Geoff Bouvier, APR/Honickman Prize-winning author of Living Room and Glass Harmonica
Florida Man stories often go viral for their weirdness such as “Florida Man Arrested for Drunk Dialing 911 When He Wanted Vodka,” but there’s more to him than a punchline, which Tyler Gillespie breaks down through an exploration of his home state’s history, landscape, and his own recovery from substance abuse.
In the tradition of C.D. Wright, Gillespie -- a reporter for national publications -- utilizes journalistic techniques in an innovative nonfiction hybrid that merges poetic sound and form in pieces that range from alligator anatomy to Southern heritage to growing up gay in a Christian school.
As Gillespie writes, Florida is not only a vacation spot or a retirement destination but an ideal state for “A country full of people // who would spend their last / chance on a dream & a plot / their happy ending.”
Tyler Gillespie is an award-winning journalist who’s written for Rolling Stone, The Guardian, VICE, GQ, Playboy, and Salon. His poems recently appeared in Hobart, Prelude, Tahoma Literary Review, Cleaver, and Exposition Review. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of New Orleans and an MA in Journalism & Media Studies from the University of South Florida-St. Petersburg.