The Florida Man meme lodged itself into the national consciousness through viral headlines like “Florida man threw live gator in Wendy’s drive-thru window.” But there’s much more to the meme than a punchline. In this innovative collection, Tyler Gillespie strips away the accepted myths of his home state and its inhabitants in poems centered on Florida’s history and culture. He uses a lyric mix of journalism, science, family lore, and lived experience to reveal complex realities of the state and a redemption that’s wondrously messy and surprising.
Since the collection’s initial publication in 2018, Florida has become even more chaotic and unsafe. In this time, too, Gillespie emerged as one of the state’s rising literary voices for his wit and style. This second edition revisits the original collection and extends its themes with 20 new poems that form the chapbook-length addition HEAT ADVISORY.
“Gillespie has published an empathetic book of poems.” – WASHINGTON POST
“Florida Man conveys the scope of Florida beyond the flattened punchlines associated with the collection’s eponymous character.” – THE MILLIONS
“All of it drips with Floridiana.” – TAMPA BAY TIMES
“Finishing Tyler Gillespie’s Florida Man, I felt a sense of having just consumed a layer of the future fossil record of Florida, so simultaneously precise and wide-ranging was Gillespie’s natural history of his home… teeming with both physical and mythological lives, creating a confluence of unusual social and ecological forces that are all poised to vanish under saltwater in the near future.” – FLYWAY: JOURNAL OF WRITING & ENVIRONMENT
“Florida Man is a collection of poems that honors its namesake in every imaginable way. From historical documents to crushing narratives to found poems inspired by Florida’s absurd news cycle, from the wildlife to the even wilder people, these poems are an accurate and essential tribute to the Sunshine State’s sometimes joyous and sometimes morbid strangeness. Like an alligator, this book clamps down on you with such sheer force that you won’t be able to pull away.” – ARIEL FRANCISCO author of A Sinking Ship is still a Ship
“In Gillespie’s excellent Florida Man, redemption is wondrously messy and surprising, building empathy that recognizes both the many mistakes and misguided intentions that underlie the headlines and the deep conflict of reconciling a bad reputation and a beloved home.” – ABIGAIL BECKEL co-founder and publisher of Rose Metal Press
“Tyler Gillespie’s deft journo-poems blaze and sear down the page, shaping the nightmare trope of our national misfit – Florida Man – alongside the various tropes of our misfit nationalism…Native yet wild, the stories these poems tell you will haunt you.” – GEOFF BOUVIER author of Living Room and Glass Harmonica
“This is a rollicking ride through the craziness that erupts all day and night, but Gillespie’s poems have as much tenderness as absurdity. This is the side of Florida that only a true poet can illuminate.” – BARBARA HAMBY author of Bird Odyssey
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tyler Gillespie is an award-winning educator and writer whose work has appeared in the New Yorker, Rolling Stone, GQ, The Guardian, The Washington Post, Playboy, and elsewhere. He’s the author of the nonfiction collection The Thing about Florida: Exploring a Misunderstood State (University Press of Florida) and two poetry collections Florida Man: Poems and the nature machine! (Autofocus).