Riverview resident John Davis Jr. is an award-winning poet. Davis’ 2021 poetry collection, The Places That Hold, was awarded the Florida Book Awards Bronze Medal in Tallahassee on April 7. The prize, judged by university faculty and literary scholars from around the state, recognizes the finest creative writing in Florida each year. For 2021, there were 150 contender books submitted by international publishers.
The Places That Hold is Davis’ fifth poetry collection.
He explained, “The collection combines the imagery of Florida farming and rural life with a harder look at the injustices that occurred at the Dozier reform school in the panhandle. The contrast of Sunshine State beauty and brutality resonated with contest judges.”
Davis added, “I was inspired to write the book when I first heard about the terrible events that took place at the Dozier reform school in our state’s panhandle in 2014. At that time, I had written many poems about fatherhood, education and my own deep Floridian roots. The Dozier poems served as a natural contrast, providing some darkness to the collection.”
As part of the prize, Davis’ book will be added to the library in the Florida governor’s mansion. He will also receive book cover seals that identify his book as a recipient of the medal. Davis said of the award, “I was pleasantly surprised and honored. This book is my fifth, and I was especially hopeful that it would speak to people.”
Davis added, “I am proud to be an eighth-generation Floridian. The Sunshine State is vital to my writing and to me personally. I encourage everyone, even if you think you don’t ‘get’ poetry, to give The Places That Hold a try. It is accessible, universal and totally unpretentious. If you love our state and its history, you will love this book.”
Davis holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing from The University of Tampa as well as a master’s degree in education and bachelor’s degree in mass communication from Florida Southern College.
Davis resides in Riverview with his wife, Christy, and their two sons. He teaches poetry workshops at Firehouse Cultural Center and English at Jesuit High School in Tampa.
You can get The Places That Hold through all major booksellers.
Davis said, “For those wishing to support smaller local bookstores are encouraged to visit Tombolo Books in St. Petersburg or Oxford Exchange in Tampa.”