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Director of Saint Leo’s Master of Creative Writing Program Awarded 2023 Bronze Medal in Florida Book Awards

Dr. Anne Barngrover’s ‘Everwhen’ poetry collection earns a top prize in the state. Read more about her book and her advice for writers.

Tags: College of Arts Sciences and Allied Services Poetry Faculty Creative Writing Master of Arts in Creative Writing MA in Creative Writing English Florida Book Awards Graduate Program Liberal Arts National Poetry Month
9 April 2024 -

During National Poetry Month, it’s fitting to congratulate Saint Leo University’s Dr. Anne Barngrover, who has been awarded the 2023 Bronze Medal by the Florida Book Awards for her poetry collection, Everwhen. Barngrover, associate professor of creative writing, and director of the Master of Arts in Creative Writing Program, will attend the awards ceremony in Tallahassee, FL, at the end of April. 

The Florida Book Awards were established in 2006. The 18th annual competition featured 170 eligible publications submitted across 11 categories for books published in 2023.

Earning the gold medal for poetry was Kweku Abimbola of Tampa for Saltwater Demands a Psalm (Graywolf Press) and the silver medal was awarded to Jessica Q. Stark of Jacksonville for Buffalo Girl.


Barngrover’s Everwhen will be among the other Florida Book Award-winning books on permanent display in the library at the Governor's Mansion in Tallahassee and in an exhibit case on the third floor of Florida State University's Strozier Library.

Published by the University of Akron Press, the award-winning Everwhen is Barngrover’s third poetry collection. Barngrover’s Brazen Creature was published in 2018 also by the University of Akron Press and was a finalist for the 2019 Ohioana Award for Poetry, and Yell Hound Blues was published by Shipwreckt Books in 2013. 

Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Barngrover earned her Bachelor of Arts from Denison University, her Master of Fine Arts from Florida State University, and her doctorate in English and creative writing from the University of Missouri.

Q&A with Dr. Anne Barngrover

Q. This is a BIG award! Are you having “all the feelings?” Why do you think the judges selected Everwhen?

 A: Thank you! I’m not exactly sure why the judges selected Everwhen. In the writing world, as in other creative pursuits, there’s so much subjectivity and rejection, the rejection far outweighing the acceptances, and oftentimes you never know why your work can get rejected by one literary journal, press, or award and accepted by another. I’ve had to learn a long time ago not to take any of it too personally and to develop a thick skin, to trust my creative instincts, and to keep marching on. That being said, I am so grateful to all those who have supported Everwhen and am very honored to have been chosen for the bronze medal.

Q: Do the poems in Everwhen follow a theme — are they connected? And if so, can you explain the theme?

 A: I wrote and revised these poems from around 2017-2021, so the images, obsessions, and preoccupations of those years became part of this collection. Everwhen is an anxious book concerned with how our planet is being treated and how vulnerable people, especially women, are treated in tandem. Many of these poems speak as plants or as the Roman goddess Ceres, ruler of agriculture and of women and girls, as imagined in the 21st century. Ceres’ insistence on truth-telling and resilience are familiar navigations for me. 

As a decade-long Florida resident, I experience this state as verdant, otherworldly, and misunderstood, rife with the manmade horrors of toxic algae, disappearing species and coastlines, dangerous weather patterns, and the highest reports of cyber-attacks in the country, and all of these local concerns are reflected in the poetry of this book. Overall, Everwhen deals with love, grief, and beauty in the apocalypse; the body and mind in peril; and the ecological concept of Deep Time.

Q: What inspires you to write, whether it be poetry or another form of writing?

 A: I am most inspired to write when I am reading other poems that strike me in their imagery, visual form, musicality, and use of the line, or when I am reading evocative prose. I love that poems are made up of both lines and sentences; I am most inspired by the possibility of sentences. 

My daily bike rides around my neighborhood also inspire me because I live in an area that contains a lot of lush and unusual nature. Likewise, I am inspired by the places I travel to, whether that is a nearby beach or a city in Europe. Physically moving outside helps me to meditate, think deeply, and observe the world around me. I bring all of my reading and my observations with me when I come to the page to write, and in doing so, I never face the blank page alone.

Q: What advice do you give to young writers?

 A: Read! My students know that my mantra is, “Read five times more than you write.” Read within your genre and outside of your genre. Read work that is old and work that is new. Read work that is similar to what you want to write and work that is wildly different. 


Reading gives you permission to try new things in your writing, to experiment with form and perspective, and to re-imagine the possibilities of storytelling and expression. No one can work in a bubble; all successful writers borrow from the writers who came before them. If you do not read, you will stagnate as a writer. What’s more, reading can become one of the greatest loves of your life; I know it has been a great love in mine. 

Leading Micro-credential in Creative Writing This Summer

This summer, Barngrover will lead the 2024 master’s in creative writing summer residency as well as a micro-credential program in creative writing. The micro-credential program will provide feedback from creative writing faculty and peers on what participants are working on — new fiction, creative nonfiction, or poetry. It takes place 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., July 8-13 at Saint Leo’s campus, 33701 County Road 52, St. Leo, FL 33544. The deadline to sign up is June 15. For more information, email