BEST BOOK BY A LOCAL AUTHOR (2002)
By Campbell McGrath
McGrath, a Miami Beach resident and professor at Florida International University, moved here a few years ago and then set for himself a Whitmanesque challenge: Write a defining poem about his adopted home state. And then he had the temerity to call it "The Florida Poem." This piece, a highlight of the book, is long, sardonic, and conversational, and as the poem threads its way through the conquistadors and swamp-draining history it is often sad. But McGrath is a romantic optimist, and so he offers hope: "And yet, all it takes/is a day at the beach/to see the slate scrubbed clean/and scribbled anew/by the beautiful coquinas, to witness/the laws of hydraulics rendered moot by the munificent/tranquility of their variegated colonies/thriving amid the chaos of wave-break and overwash."
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