#SusanCerulean: I Have Been Assigned The Single Bird

[please find PoEtrY fRiDaY links at the end]

Susan Cerulean: I Have Been Assigned The Single Bird

Earlier this week on another page here, I honored the “good trouble” created by U.S. Rep. John Lewis, who as a young man in segregated Alabama, was positively influenced by Rosa Parks and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.


This page turns to a “good trouble” activist in Florida for environmental justice. She is Susan Cerulean. Maybe your Florida kayak glide, escorted above by a fish-hunting osprey, brought you to love this confounding state where I live. Or perhaps your Florida habit began via books by Zora Neale Hurston, such as Their Eyes Were Watching God, or with Oranges by John McPhee, or any of the several books of Marjory Stoneman Douglas, such Hurricane or her best-known, Everglades, River of Grass. Or, perhaps your student brought home from the school library, the rambunctious Florida eco-warrior Skink in the YA novel Skink, No Surrender, a character first crafted years ago in his adult fiction, by Carl Hiaasen.

Whatever the reason you commune with the idea of Florida, please look for the works of our state’s excellent, revered, unique literary eco-definer and eco-defender, Susan Cerulean.

I don’t often depart from children’s literature, especially poetry, as my theme at this site. But please pay attention to an extraordinary new double-memoir, I Have Been Assigned The Single Bird, (University of Georgia Press.) Susan Cerulean movingly blends her care for Florida and its ecosystems, including nesting terns that like to lay eggs where tourists tromp, with her care for her beloved Father, who like so many, migrates to Florida from elsewhere. In this case, from New Jersey.


I created a poem in celebration of her extraordinary story. I hope you will find some time for I Have Been Assigned The Single Bird. The birth of it brings a unique author-opportunity next week.  (shared at the end with other resources)


Your assignment


How to know what it is.



by a brightening of the sky at the engaging moment.

Likely, not.


What is the assignment? 

Who is the assignment?  


The assignment may arrive

as a thin needle jab

of torreya tree you petted in a park

now stuck in pain under your fingernail

so that you can’t forget this struggling creature.



The assignment may arrive

when your diabetic neighbor calls from her doorway

as you take your nightly walk. At her front step, you learn

you are to dress her unending toe wound.


You can’t know the assignment in advance.


Just know, it will call.

~JGAnnino, 2020



I hope you will want to meet Susan Cerulean in a digital meet up 6 p.m. August 7.

Susan Cerulean photograph copyright, Jeff Chanton, all rights reserved

Sample the book in this review by novelist, poet, memoirist Trish (Pat) MacEnulty. Enjoy a feature on it by author and editor, Kathleen Laufenberg.

If you can encourage your library or bookstore or reading group to create an event for this book, contact Susan and please say I sent you.

full disclosure

In addition to her own writing, Susan Cerulean is an environmental nonfiction anthologist. She edited Milkweed Editions’ The Book of the Everglades, which included my chapter, and, works from Betty Mae Tiger Jumper, Susan Orlean, the late famed sea turtle author-scientist Archie Carr, poet Lola Haskins, and longtime Miami Herald columnist and novelist Carl Hiaasen.

I have been friends and writing colleagues with Sue for more four decades. And following I Have Been Assigned The Single Bird, I’ve a hope for what’s next between her book covers  ~ Ursus, which walk, feed, birth and die here in crazy Florida, barely.


Poetry Friday is organized and cheered today from the pages of READING TO THE CORE.  Learn more about Poetry Friday from Renee M. LaTulippe. Please keep scrolling to leave your thought in the moderated comments box, with my appreciations.



poem for Roasted Oysters + more

Poem for Roasted Oysters

I don’t eat oysters

O! No- I don’t

How is it that one





c. Jan Godown Annino

Well, anyone knows that it is food that makes or breaks an occasion.

The food was fabulous and hosts/servers/chefs were wonderful –

at the 2015 Authors in Apalach festival of books, readers & writers.


Apalachicola Municipal Library

Caty Green, Library Queen of the municipality of Apalachicola,

seen somewhere in this post on the sidewalk with an author at the

village’s 2015 Mardi Gras event,

convened about 20 or so scribes including the cookbook maven

Joyce LaFraye and also Janis Owens, originator of so many great Southern tales

such as My Brother Michael.


Susan Cerulean,
whose new one, COMING TO PASS, will be featured at a cafe event in Apalachicola April 24
overseen by Downtown Books & Purl, led a panel with Mary Jane Ryals and Faith Eides.




Adrian Fogelin rustled up a panel featuring Kim Cross Teter, Leslee Horner,

Mary-Lois Sanders, Perky Granger, Vickie Spray & myself. I
vote Perky for Best Author First Name of the panel.

Adrian’s SOME KIND OF MAGIC, her new middle grade novel,

found a lively launch at this event & it was seven kinds of

wonderful that a local student purchased the first copy of it.


Children’s books panelist & Nashville author Kim Teter’s ISABELLA’s LIBRETTO came home with me,
autographed, & I intend to mention it on a future Bookseedstudio post because already in chapter
one, I’m hooked.

River Jordan (other Best First Name of the Event) & Elizabeth Stuckey-French, Judy Conklin, Jane Doerfer, Olivia DeBelle,
& Dawn Radford were wonderful participants, even though they weren’t on the children’s books panel.

I was happy to see local bookseller Dale Julian of Downtown Books & Purl
handling event purchases again, which benefit the Apalachicola Municipal Library.
Susan Wolfe of Forgotten Coast Used and Out of Print Books, added to the bookish aura.


News was announced – I learned that Tallahassee force of nature Prissy Elrod
sold her memoir FAR FROM THE ORDINARY for a movie deal to Lucky Dog Filmworks.

Go & get your memoir written – all you stragglers. Hope Prissy’s story can film on site in Tally.

I read it right after I came away with my signed copy & it’s a page-turner.



At #Authors in Apalach, the book tables were set against lovely scenic paintings,

& art & books were all arrayed around the locally famous Apalachicola Trading Canoe, said to be the longest

such historic commerce canoe in all of Florida (created circa 1750-1800). This 52-foot boat

is the 1st-floor centerpiece of an 1836 historic brick-walled warehouse, now the Center for History, Culture & Art.

This totally intact boat set the tone for thoughtful conversation about the 106-mile long Apalachicola River

& estuary system, which requires constant vigilance to maintain the water quality necessary

to support the region’s vast web of life in the air, on land and in water, especially for those

water residents we eat the most – shrimp, fish and oysters. Fox squirrels and fox can

mosey further into the Apalachicola National Forest, but those salty little

guys have no where else to go.


Apalachicola Trading Canoe (circa 1750-1800)

credit: Apalachicola Center for History, Culture & Art



My husband cast his hook at favorite area spots & noshed, especially on the roasted Apalachicola oysters, created by attorney Donna Duncan, posing just before the city’s Friday night musical events kicked up in the street around the corner. She is one of my hubby’s favorite former students. Donna’s oyster recipe co-maker, who we enjoyed meeting, was John Solomon. The Duncan-Solomon Chamber of Commerce cooking team earlier took 3rd place for their Authors in Apalach-presented tricky* recipe, in a contest of the Apalachicola Volunteer Fire Department’s Oyster Cook-Off & they won 1st place for a unique oyster pot pie.

Thinking it was something else, I ate an ostreidae because Duncan-Solomon dressed it in broiled bacon and savory spinach & I didn’t know it was an oyster until later – that’s how their morsel *tricked me.

In non-food news, Paolo watched my Seminole Indian patchwork at the book table as I dashed upstairs to the airy top-floor room, where the sunny view of the blue sky -blue water dock, across from our location at 86 Water Street looked inviting. Writing tips from authors were noted by constant scribblers in attendance from points far and near.

Love, Apalachicola
It is clear that Apalachicola loves books, readers, literature, writers & fresh seafood eaters, fun times & all their accompanying fisher folk, café-goers & cottage-dwellers. And we love Apalachicola, back.

The night before we sat on bales of hay set out along Market Street & enjoyed great live music, spotting our pal Caroline & waved at folks we met, earlier in the day down by the bay.