What’s your favorite Florida line?

Floridians enjoy a fantastic literary smorgasbord of novels, nonfiction, poetry, and more. So many authors, past and present, have written great insights about our state. What’s your favorite sentence about Florida written by an author? We love this one from the poem “Florida” by poet Elizabeth Bishop: “The state with the prettiest name, the state that floats in brackish water, held together by mangrave roots…” And there’s the great line by historian Michael Gannon: “By the time the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock, Saint Augustine was up for urban renewal.”

What’s your favorite Florida line? Below, please write the sentence you love, the name of the author, and the title of the book, poem, etc., where it appears. We’ll include some of the best in our fall issue of FORUM magazine, which features award-winning Florida authors.

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28 Responses

  1. Jody Mask

    “These days the site is asphalted over with offices and condominiums (the Florida curse), obscuring the ancient earth.”

    –Diane Roberts, Dream State

  2. Gregory Hardy

    CLARK GRISWALD: “Roy, could you imagine if you had driven all the way to Florida and it was closed?”

    ROY WALLEY: “Closed? Uh, they don’t close Florida.”

    — “National Lampoon’s Vacation” (1983), screenplay by John Hughes

  3. Jeff Johnson

    “Florida is a reward for a life well-lived somewhere else.” Adam Putnam uses that line often and has attributed it to The Orchid Thief, but I can’t verify that. It’s a good line regardless.

  4. Tee Wood

    Usually it’s so quiet you can hear the strangler figs dropping their fruit on the hoods of parked cars, leaving pulp and tiny black seeds….The air all around the town limits is so thick that sometimes a soul cannot rise and instead attaches itself to a stranger, landing right between the shoulder blades with a thud that carries no more weight than a hummingbird. Alice Hoffman, Turtle Moon

  5. Two boom-time speculators were talking over their experiences. Said one, “The truth about Florida is a lie” and the other agreed, but added,—“though it would be just as true the other way around.”
    —F. Page Wilson, “Miami: From Frontier to Metropolis, An Appraisal”
    Tequesta: The Journal of the Historical Association of Southern Florida, Volume XIV, 1954, 40

  6. Barbara Davis

    We weren’t always the joke state. We used to be the Sunshine State, known for our orange groves and beaches, and deceased senior citizens playing shuffleboard.
    Dave Barry – Best. State. Ever.

    The best time to go (to Disney World) if you want to avoid huge crowds, is 1962.
    Dave Barry – Dave Barry’s Travel Guide

    1. Maurice I'Sullivan

      Mais l’astre floridien ne brille que d’un éclat secondaire au firmament des trente-sept étoiles qui constellent le pavillon des États-Unis d’Amérique. . . . Quant à sa forme, on peut la comparer à une queue de castor qui trempe dans l’Océan, entre l’Atlantique à l’est et le golfe du Mexique à l’ouest.

      (Two sentences in the opening paragraphs, separated by a couple of others.)

      But Florida’s star shines only with a secondary brilliance in that constellation of 38 which shimmer in the flag of the United States of America. . . . As to its shape, it can be compared to a beaver’s tail dropped in the ocean, between the Atlantic Ocean in the East and the Gulf of Mexico in the West.

      From Jules Verne’s Nord Contre Sud (1887), which appeared in English as Texar’s Revenge, his second Florida novel (after From Earth to the Moon) and perhaps the worst novel he ever published, a classic model of retelling history with alternative facts.

  7. Eli

    “One particular developer renamed a lake, in my honor, Jahoda Pond. When I asked him if I could see it, he replied, no ma’am, it’s full of water moccasins. Perhaps it is as well that that particular development died with the recession of the ‘seventies. I think I would rather be commemorated by book reviews than by venomous snakes.”
    Gloria Jahoda, The Other Florida

  8. T. Peak

    “In Florida the future relies on the uncertainties of weather and the unknown mettle of arriving strangers. It makes an interesting life. Floridians have to learn to thrive on mobility and change, the ingredients of impermanence, and try to mold them into a sense of permanence. The state has tidal rhythms that affect all. To endure, we have to be flexible enough to bend but principled enough to hold on.”

    From: Al Burt’s Florida: Snowbirds, Sand Castles, and Self-Rising Crackers by Al Burt, University Press of Florida

  9. Evan Bennett

    “A very clever poet, Wallace Stevens, ended a poem with saying, ‘But there is no spring in Florida.’ He did not know Florida. He came as a stranger, a traveller, to Florida, and the lushness of spring was to him only lushness. He could not differentiate among the shades of green, which at Cross Creek tells us when to plant and when to fertilize and when to cultivate. He did not know when the red-bird begins to sing again, and when the cypress bursts from gray bareness into a dress of soft needles and the swamp maple puts out young passionate red leaves.” – Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Cross Creek.

    1. From “Sandspurs: Notes from a Coastal Columnist” by Mark Lane, ISBN 978-0-8130-3234-4:
      “The Darwinian Gardener surveyed his yard after Hurricane Charley and estimated the supplies required for a job this size. Easily, it would take four cigars and a six-pack of an amber domestic beer; anything heavier might impede his progress.”

  10. DL Brown

    Sometimes I think I’ve figured out some order in the universe, but then I find myself in Florida, swamped by incongruity and paradox, and I have to start all over again.

    Susan Orlean, The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession

  11. “My father, King Phillip, told me I was made of the sands of Florida, and that when I was placed in the ground, the Seminoles would dance and sing around my grave”, a quote from Coacoochee, also known as Wildcat. This quote appears at the beginning of “We Come For Good: Archaeology and Tribal Historic Preservation at the Seminole Tribe of Florida”, edited by Paul N. Backhouse, Brent R. Wiseman, and Mary Beth Rosebrough. The quote embodies why the book was written, to honor the great state of Florida and the descendants of some of its earliest residents.

  12. Andrea LeDew

    David Morehouse: There’s a problem with the numbers in Florida.

    James Baker: People are going to say all kinds of things about this election, that is was down to 154 votes, that Bush’s brother was governor, that the US Supreme Court gave it to us. But I want you to remember that we won every single recount. Never once did we trail Gore. And who knows how many votes we lost when the networks called Florida for Gore before all the polls were closed on election night. But more important than all that is that the system worked. There were no tanks on the streets. This peaceful transfer of power in the most emotional and trying of times is a testament to the strength of the Constitution and to our faith in the rule of law.

    Daniel W.Strong screenwriter
    Recount (2008). Retrieved from http://m.imdb.com/title/tt1000771/quotes

  13. Sylvia Gurinsky

    “There are no other Everglades in the world.”

    -Marjory Stoneman Douglas, “The Everglades: River of Grass”

  14. Crystal Drake

    You bring this many different kinds of
    people together it’s like throwing wolves and panthers into a pen full of cows. The
    fur never stops flying.” Patrick Smith, “A Land Remembered”

  15. “It seems to me that the earth may be borrowed but not bought. It may be used, but not owned.”
    Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings in Cross Creek. Closing chapter, last paragraph.

  16. Greg Cunningham

    “…how is the mind agitated and bewildered, at being thus, as it were, placed on the borders of a new world!”
    William Bartram, Travels p.189

  17. I like these two:

    “A prosthetic leg with a Willie Nelson bumper sticker washed ashore on the beach, which meant it was Florida.”
    ― Tim Dorsey, Pineapple Grenade

    “I had a werewolf morning. Awoke with a rum hangover, imagined blood on the walls, and prayed to god it was mine.”
    ― Randy Wayne White, Ten Thousand Islands

  18. Shawn E. Martin

    FL HIST/POLITICS/ENVIRONMENT

    As viewed from space, reclamation ecology is the the bed sheet of the strip-mining phosphate industry, as evidenced by the number of man-made lakes found in central Florida.

  19. Barbara

    Florida “burst and bubbled in multitudes of clear springs…Basins of rock and sand held them like bowls of liquid light.” Marjorie Stoneman Douglas, in her book, Florida the Long Frontier.

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