Best Place to Meet a Writer (2007)

FIU North Creative Writing Program

He came into town from a gig in Texas, bringing his books, his notes, and his notebooks. He was a tall man with sandy hair who left behind in the dusty sprawl all the attitude and arrogance associated with the Lone Star State. His charm, his way of encouraging erudition and enlightenment, was borne of years out west working as a park ranger. Easygoing and endlessly affable, he stood proudly before a roomful of young adults as a real-life lone star, a writer, a fine writer, hell-bent on teaching others his craft. And so Les Standiford did teach, imbuing budding scribes at Florida International University with a mix of passion and precision, relaying tricks and skills wrapped in a love of words. During the late Eighties and into the many dusks and dawns of his academic career, Standiford wrote — publishing novels and nonfiction, penning screenplays, editing the anthology Miami Noir.... And he taught. Finally he accomplished something even bigger, building a creative writing program at FIU the way an old Cuban roller patiently wraps heirloom tobaccos into cigars better than the ones Fidel himself once smoked: one after another, each as good and special as the previous, each worth having and holding, pondering in that ephemeral, internal, eternal way of smoke, each as flavorful and rewarding as the city from which it emanates, a city promising a future of literacy, fun, and enlightenment. A city that's not out west, nor in Texas. But a city that Les Standiford is in.


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