Literary City Guide: Tampa, Florida

The railing of the balcony was cold but the blue-black night air was so warm in October, in Florida, it felt as if it could hold you, all that wetness like a blanket of kisses.
— Heather Sellers
Photo by Cassie Childs

Photo by Cassie Childs

In November 2004 I flew from Los Angeles to Tampa on a red eye to attend my future brother-in-law's wedding. At five o'clock the next morning, Andrew and I wiped the sleep from our eyes and found his dad waiting for us at baggage claim. It was already humid, and we spent the day shuffling from one place to the next until collapsing at a restaurant for the rehearsal dinner.

Unfortunately, that trip was a quick one, with little time left for exploring. You can bet if I ever make it back to the Sunshine State, I'll be taking this literary city guide with me.

PhD student Cassie Childs is composing her dissertation on women writing about food and travel, so she knows a thing or two about a good meal, and took time away from her studies to play tour guide. You'll find that Tampa is home to a handful of independent bookstores, bakeries, and a thriving creative writing community supported by the University of South Florida, so pack your sunscreen! 

Photo by Cassie Childs

Photo by Cassie Childs

For more Florida inspiration, read this poem by Charlie Smith. It's hauntingly beautiful. 

"It is night  
in Florida
and, in a moment, one of us will recall  
the time our father, in a gray suit,  
climbed the steps of an airliner  
bound for Paris
and never came back."

-from "Talking Among Ourselves" by Charlie Smith