Jeff Klinkenberg, Florida culture writer for nearly four decades, has been named the winner of the Florida Humanities Council’s 2018 Florida Lifetime Achievement Award for Writing. A five-person independent panel of judges selected Klinkenberg from a pool of 20 nominees.
The award, established in 2010, honors a Florida author for a body of literary work that has had a major influence on Floridians. Past winners include Carl Hiaasen, Patrick Smith, David Kirby, Michael Gannon, and Gary Mormino.
In a news release, Steve Seibert, Florida Humanities Council executive director, said, “No one tells the stories of Florida experiences better than Jeff Klinkenberg.”
Klinkenberg, 68, wrote for the Tampa Bay Times, previously the St. Petersburg Times, for nearly four decades. His column, Real Florida, featured the unique people who make up the Sunshine State: the Highwaymen painters and Tarpon Springs sponge divers, the beekeepers and alligator trappers. His books take a more personal direction, with stories of growing up in Miami and featuring the many backroads and off-the-map locations he has travelled. Earlier this year he also received one of the three 2018 Florida Folk Heritage Awards, in the category of Folk Culture Advocate.
In his newest book, Son of Real Florida: Stories from My Life, he introduces the stout-hearted folks who have learned to live and even prosper among the insects, sharptoothed critters, and serious heat. Klinkenberg’s cast of characters includes beekeeper Harold P. Curtis and his prized orange blossom honey; frog whisperer Avalon Theisen; Sheepshead George of St. Petersburg; and Miss Martha, the oyster-shucking queen of Apalachicola. Klinkenberg also showcases some of the most interesting, little-known places in the state: Solomon’s Castle, made entirely of reclaimed materials; the neighborhood of “Rattlesnake, Florida”; and the smallest post office in the United States. Son of Real Florida will be published on April 3 by the University Press of Florida.
More books by Jeff Klinkenberg: