Literary Events

Florida Center for the Book presents:  Author Talks, Poetry Readings & Open Mic

Events take place at the Main Library, 100 S Andrews Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301 


Saturday, January 28, 4–6PM
Elisa Albo, author of PASSAGE TO AMERICA

Elisa Albo's Passage to America explores her family’s immigrant and assimilation story. Writing about these poems, Richard Blanco states that "on the cusp of a new era in U.S.-Cuba relations and the unsettling growth of anti-immigrant sentiments in our country, this book is more important than ever." Campbell McGrath calls them poems of "personal genealogical and historical witness to the immigrant experience." She is also the author of Each Day More, a collection of elegies that reflects on the loss of family, friends, and strangers. 

Elisa Albo was born in Havana, raised in central Florida, and lives with her husband and daughters in Plantation. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Alimentum, Crab Orchard Review, Irrepressible Appetites, The Notre Dame Review and The Potomac Journal. She teaches composition, literature, creative writing, and English as a second language at Broward College.


Saturday, February 18, 4–6PM
Denise Duhamel, author of SCALD & Barbra Nightingale, author of ALPHALEXIA

When her “smart” phone keeps asking her to autocorrect her name to Denise Richards, Denise Duhamel begins a journey that takes on celebrity, sex, reproduction, and religion with her characteristic wit and insight. The poems in Scald “engage” feminism in two ways—committing to and battling with—various principles and beliefs.  Duhamel wrestles with foremothers and visionaries Shulamith Firestone, Andrea Dworkin, and Mary Daly as well as with pop culture figures such as Helen Reddy, Cyndi Lauper, and Bikini Kill.  In dialogue with artists and writers such as Catherine Opie, Susan Faludi, and Eve Ensler, Duhamel tries to understand our cultural moment.  While Duhamel’s Scald can burn, she has more importantly taken on the role of the ancient Scandinavian “Skald,” one who pays tribute to heroic deeds.  In Duhamel’s case, her heroes are also heroines.

Denise Duhamel’s most recent book of poetry is Scald.  Blowout was a finalist for the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award. Her other titles include Ka-Ching! Two and Two, Queen for a Day: Selected and New Poems, The Star-Spangled Banner, and Kinky. Duhamel is a recipient of fellowships from the Guggenhiem Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.  She is professor of English at Florida International University in Miami. 

Barbra Nightingale • "So you thought you knew your A, B, C’s?  Not until you read Alphalexia, an imaginative and quantum look at the very atoms of language—the alphabet—through the lens of these expertly-crafted poems that are as whimsical and satirical as they are an insightful and meaningful examination of our relationship to the very nature of language.

—Richard Blanco, U.S. Presidential Inaugural Poet, and author of Looking for The Gulf Motel.

Alphalexia is Barbra Nightingale's ninth collection of poetry.  It consists of 26 poems, each one a meditation on a letter of the alphabet.  She is a professor emeritus from Broward College, and volunteers with the Fort Lauderdale Film Festival. 


Wednesday, February 22, 1PM

Col Lehane
Booklovers rejoice as Con Lehane takes you on a wild ride through the 42nd Street Library with the first book in an amazing new series, Murder at the 42nd Street Library, that features crime a la library at some of America's most famous institutions of higher reading. Murder at the 42nd Street Library opens with a murder in a second floor office of the iconic, beaux-arts flagship of the New York Public Library. Murder at the 42nd Street Library book cover

Ray Ambler, the curator of the library's crime fiction collection, joins forces with NYPD homicide detective Mike Cosgrove in hopes of bringing a murderer to justice. In his search for the reasons behind the murder, Ambler uncovers hidden--and profoundly disturbing--relationships between visitors to the library. These include a celebrated mystery writer who has donated his papers to the library's crime fiction collection, that writer's missing daughter, a New York society woman with a hidden past, and one of Ambler's colleagues at the world-famous library. Those shocking revelations lead inexorably to the tragic and violent events that follow.

Con Lehane is a mystery writer who lives outside Washington, DC. He's published three previous crime novels featuring New York City bartender Brian McNulty. Over the years, he has worked as a college professor, a union organizer, a labor journalist, and has tended bar at two dozen or so drinking establishments.​


Saturday, March 4, 4-6PM
Deborah Denicola, author of ORIGINAL HUMAN

"This book belongs to Mary Magdalen, the woman who, in the Gnostic gospels, is the confidante of Jesus, both a spiritual initiate and one deeply alive in the body, caught in the rich crisis of being. DeNicola looks to find a site of transfiguration, a mountain upon which the self is opened and changed.
—Mark Doty

In Original Human, Deborah DeNicola gives us another of her important contributions to the soul. In every poem she continues her work of connecting body and spirit via soul--her sensuality always extending to and rooted in spirit, her divine insights always connected to everyday life--work, travel, food, sex. Pleasure was the child of the marriage of Eros and Psyche, love and soul. One cannot not love these poems, for this is where they all begin, in love of the immediate and the longing for the eternal.  —Thomas Kaplan Maxfield

Deborah DeNicola’s most recent book is Original Human. She edited the anthology Orpheus & Company; Contemporary Poems on Greek Mythology, from The University Press of New England. Previous poetry books include Where Divinity Begins from Alice James Books, and three chapbooks. Her memoir, The Future that Brought Her Here reached #1 in psychology books on Among other awards, Deborah has received a National Endowment Fellowship in poetry. She won The Packingtown Review’s Analytical Essay Award in 2008 and the Carol Bly Short Story Award in 2013. Visit​


Saturday, April 29, 4-6PM
Meryl Stratford, author of THE MAGICIAN’S DAUGHTER and Sally Naylor, author of FIREBIRD

Stratford’s The Magician’s Daughter was the winner of the ninth annual YellowJacket Press Chapbook Contest for Florida Poets. Having been a third-grade school teacher for many years, Stratford knows how to write simple yet powerful and memorable lines. Her view of life, however, is far from simple. She addresses subjects such as the death of a parent and its affect[sic] on her students in “Goldengrove.”: “The lesson for today is grief/I write the word i before e/ on the board.”  The children write poems about people or things they’ve lost and “After the last sentence, they look up/as if they’ve come back from far away,” an experience that most writers strive for: to be in the zone and out of themselves and time as they write about what is important and hopefully, eternal. Stratford continues her book with poems about childhood and adolescent development including young love in “How Knowledge Enters the World,” and “Green Lake” and “Nixie”, and she addresses the magic of the natural world in the book’s title poem. In “Mallory Square, Key West,” she explores the wonder of living in the moment: “o sun/melting/ filling the sky with yellow light/ drenching us in yellow fragrance/ we are here/we are all here.”

In “Lake Erie” and “When my Mother Died” she explores the consequences of her grandfather’s and her mother’s passing. In “We Could Use a Little Magic.” she presents world economic malaise in the metaphor of a “Magic Store…going out of business/unable to conjure customers.” and reasons that “We’d need Houdini himself/to get us out of this entanglement, /this short-sightedness, this smoke-and-mirrors/greed.”

Stratford’s poetry describes major life stages and wider social and economic issues with simple, metaphorical poetic language.  - Review by Bryan Monte, Amsterdam Quarterly, AQ12.

Meryl Stratford’s chapbook, The Magician’s Daughter, won the 2013 YellowJacket Press Contest for Florida Poets.  Her poems have appeared recently in Rattle, Amsterdam Quarterly, and Poetrybay, and have been anthologized in Crossing Lines (Main Street Rag), MALALA: Poems for Malala Yousafzai (FutureCycle Press), and Glass Bottom Sky (YellowJacket Press) among others.  She is an associate editor for


Sally Naylor, unrepentant rascal, remains a perennial gypsy. This wordsmith enjoys the water birds on her lake in Coral Springs, Florida, for now. Poet, counselor & educator, Sally taught & wrote curricula for gifted, peer counseling & AIDS education classes. Writing workshops, travel, yoga & skating tightropes keep her out of trouble. Her first collection, Firebird (PP Books), a story of regeneration, is available on Amazon, as are her memoir, Rogue Nirvana (Lioncrest Press) & two additional volumes: Heresies & Sweet Basil & Riffs (PP Books). She now hustles to complete a creative writing text that employs innovative strategies & recipes or “how to” models for fledgling writers. ​


Wednesday, May 3, 2PM
Lisa Unger, author of THE RED HUNTER

Lisa Unger
In The Red Hunter, New York Times bestselling author Lisa Unger’s buzzworthy new standalone thriller, two wronged women take very different paths after life-shattering events.

Claudia Bishop’s perfect life fell apart after she was sexually assaulted in her home. She was left with a crumbling marriage, a newborn daughter, and a constant sense of anxiety about the world around her. Fifteen years later, she is a budding blogger specializing in home restoration projects. Looking for a fresh start in life, she takes on a derelict old house and barn…a house rumored to have a dark history and buried secrets.   ​​For Zoey Drake, the defining moment of her childhood—and life so far—was the horrific home invasion murder of her parents. The Red Hunter book coverMore than a decade later, she has embraced the rage that fuels her. Training in the martial arts has made her strong.  Zoey has a singular desire and will stop at nothing to achieve it.  Is it justice she wants? Or revenge?  Claudia and Zoey are strangers to each other and walk very different paths in the wake of trauma. But these two women are on a collision course—because Zoey’s past nightmare and Claudia’s dreams for her future will lead them to the same place. When Claudia buys the house despite warnings, she sets off a chain of events that hurtle both women towards grave danger—as they both must face the demons of the past – and the monsters at the door.

Lisa Unger is an award-winning New York Times and internationally bestselling author. Her novels have sold more than two million copies and have been translated into twenty-six languages. She lives in Florida.​​


Saturday, May 20, 4-6PM
Poets Brendan Walsh & Paul Saluk

Brendan Walsh is the author of two collections of poetry, Make Anything Whole (Five Oaks Press, 2015), and Go (Aldrich Press, 2016). His poems have appeared in Connecticut Review, LONTAR, Wisconsin Review, Mudfish, Lines + Stars, and other journals. He has taught in South Korea, Laos, Connecticut, and South Florida. He has been awarded a Fulbright Grant, several Pushcart Prize nominations, the Anna Sonder Prize of the Academy of American Poets, the Leslie Leeds Poetry Prize, and a Freedman Prize for poetry in performance. Visit​.
Paul Saluk is a retired scientist and entrepreneur. He was raised in Miami, FL, served for three years in the U.S. Army, then seven years at the University of Florida where he obtained a BS and MS in Physics and PhD in Immunology. He composes all his poems using voice-to-text software. So, for him, sound is as essential as word-images. His poems have appeared in about a dozen anthologies, in Kill your Darlings (Sally Naylor, ed.), a few issues of Florida State Poetry Association (FSPA), and others. He was a Finalist two consecutive years in the William Faulkner, William Wisdom Poetry Contest.  He lives in Pembroke Pines and continues to jabber into his voice-to-text microphone.​


Saturday, June 24, 4-6PM
Poets Jen Karetnick & Gregg Shapiro
Jen Karetnick is the author of three full-length books of poetry, including the forthcoming American Sentencing (Winter Goose Publishing, May 2016) and The Treasures That Prevail (Whitepoint Press, September 2016), as well as four poetry chapbooks. She is the winner of the 2015 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Prize for Poetry. Her work has been published recently and also forthcoming in The, december magazine, Guernica, Negative Capability, Prairie Schooner and Spillway.
Gregg Shapiro is the author of Fifty Degrees (Seven Kitchens, 2016), selected by Ching-In Chen as co-winner of the Robin Becker Chapbook Prize, the short story collections How to Whistle (Lethe, 2016) and Lincoln Avenue (Squares and Rebels, 2014), the chapbook GREGG SHAPIRO: 77 (Souvenir Spoon, 2012), and the poetry collection Protection (Gival, 2008). He lives in Fort Lauderdale with his husband Rick and their dog K.D.

Saturday, July 29, 4-6PM
Poet Mia Leonin
Mia Leonin is the author of three poetry collections, including Unravelling the Bed and Chance Born (Anhinga Press) and a memoir, Havana and Other Missing Fathers (University of Arizona Press). Leonin has published poetry and creative nonfiction in New Letters, Prairie Schooner, Alaska Quarterly Review, Indiana Review, Witness, North American Review, River Styx, Chelsea, and others. She has been awarded fellowships from the State of Florida Department of Cultural Affairs for her poetry and creative nonfiction, and two Money for Women grants by the Barbara Deming Fund. Leonin teaches creative writing at the University of Miami.
Her most recent collection, Fable of the Paddle Sack Child (BkMk Press), is a book-length poem with illustrations by Cuban-born artist, Nereida García Ferraz. In Fable of the Paddle Sack Child, Micaela, a ten-year old girl who lives in a Spanish-speaking city by the sea, must use her imagination to overcome a trauma.

Saturday, August 26, 4–6PM
Michael Hettich
Michael Hettich has published over a dozen books and chapbooks of poetry. His most recent book, Systems of Vanishing, won the 2013 Tampa Review Prize and was published in 2014 by University of Tampa Press. Other books include The Animals Beyond Us (2011) and Like Happiness, (2010). His work has been published widely, in such journals as Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Poetry East, Orion, and South FLA Poetry Journal.
He lives in Miami and teaches at Miami Dade College. In August, he will be reading from a new book, The Frozen Harbor, which won the David Martinson/Marshawk Prize and was published this year by Red Dragonfly Press.The poems in The Frozen Harbor continue and extend Hettich’s exploration of consciousness and its relationship to the natural word in poems that explore the poet’s past and present lives. The book wrestles with an exploration of the dual themes of loss and love as they extend to the self, family and the world at large. Poems of childhood set in the poet’s native New York are interspersed with others evoking the subtropic landscape of his adopted home.



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