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‘Catalyst Sessions’ recap: Jeff Klinkenberg

Bill DeYoung



Legendary St. Pete writer Jeff Klinkenberg joined us for The Catalyst Sessions Tuesday, from his home in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina. The author of seven bestselling books, Klinkenberg wrote the folksy “Real Florida” column for the Tampa Bay Times for nearly four decades.

He is the winner of the Florida Humanities Council’s Folk Heritage Award, and was given the Lifetime Writing Achievement Award in 2018.

He recalled his growing-up years in the Miami area, and explained how his parents’ personalities helped develop his natural curiosity, and his gift for storytelling.

“My mother thought everybody had a story,” Klinkenberg said. “And so I grew up with that. And I still think it’s true. I felt like I could talk to anybody.”

His gift, though those years as a road-bound Times reporter, was profiling ordinary Floridians doing ordinary things, then crafting their tales in extraordinary ways.

“For the most part,” he recalled, “it was just the most unbelievable gig. Traveling from Key West to Pensacola, and I could write about anything. I could write about murder and moonshining … there was not a subject I couldn’t write about, going through the prism of Florida.”

Tonight on The Catalyst Sessions (Facebook Live, 7 p.m.): Liz Dimmitt talks about her Fairgrounds project.


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