Peter Meinke is emeritus professor of creative writing at Eckerd College. He has published numerous books of poetry, including Scars, Zinc Fingers, Liquid Paper, and The Contracted World: New & More Selected Poems. Meinke is the recipient of many awards, including the Olivet Prize, the Paumanok Award, three Poetry Society of America Awards, the Flannery OÕConnor Award, and two NEA Fellowships. In 2009 he was appointed the first Poet Laureate of St. Petersburg, Florida.
In Lucky Bones, Peter Meinke moves fluidly through free and formal shapes, taking the reader on a tour through America in the 21st century: family, politics, love, war and peace, old age and death are looked at in ways that are surprising, clear, and warm-hearted. Lit by flashes of anger and laughter as he surveys his territory from the vantage point of old age, the poems are, in the end, both sane and profound, set to Meinke’s own music.
Consisting of over sixty new poems, the book begins with a house-shaped poem about a family in a beloved old home, and then moves out into the world with poems about a fire-bug, drive-by shootings, and the often violent human condition before circling back to the home and a final epitaph. A clear-eyed feeling of loss permeates Lucky Bones, but not despair: in the midst of conflict, Meinke’s world is full of wonder, and wonderful people.
The Contracted World includes representative poems from four of Peter Meinke's previous collections. In poems that show us what it is like to grow up in America, love, nature, cities, sports, war, and peace are filtered through the imagination and verbal skills of one of our brightest poets.
The new poems experiment with form, and address a life that is shrinking in specific ways: the poet is aging, the world is getting smaller, our post-9/11 freedoms are eroding, and our choices seem fewer and less attractive. Despite feelings of anger and loneliness, the narrator speaks to us in a personal, accessible, and often humorous voice.
Peter Meinke is one of the most readable poets. The surface clarity of his lines and his aptness for metaphor make these poems accessible and mysterious. They have real subjects – Dessert Storm and acorns, coffee and Tolstoy – but at the same time give entry to that interior world where all feelings and moralities grow.
Peter Meinke was a master of traditional poetic forms long before the current interest in “the new formalism.” His work is, in turn, witty, comic, sane, deeply moving, and always readable. Liquid Paper collects the best of his previously published poems from the late 1960s on with a generous selection of new work.
Although The Night Train and the Golden Bird is Peter Meinke’s first poetry collection, it is a seasoned performance—the result of careful deliberation and mature judgment—yet impetuous and exciting. It’s full of wit and humor tempered with the sadness of approaching middle-age, anguish over political and social injustice, and of the very failings of everyday people and their lives.