Author features Orange Park in book

By Nick Blank
Posted 11/14/18

Bridge Eight Press’ recently released “15 Views of Jacksonville” anthology holds 15 takes on the Bold City, from Arlington to Riverside to Atlantic Beach and even Orange Park.

Tiffany …

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Author features Orange Park in book

Posted

Bridge Eight Press’ recently released “15 Views of Jacksonville” anthology holds 15 takes on the Bold City, from Arlington to Riverside to Atlantic Beach and even Orange Park.

Tiffany Melanson, a Jacksonville-based poet, author and educator wrote a short story that was inspired by her time as a child in Orange Park. Titled, “Orange Park is the environment of “Mudbugs,” Melanson’s five-page story is about a young girl and her experiences with family and nature.

When Melanson was approached to write for the collection, her adolescence in Arlington and time in San Marco sprung to mind. She got the clearest picture, though, from growing up west of the St. Johns River when she was very young.

“When I sat down to write, the images that kept coming up were images of my childhood, and all that time I spent running around in the mud in Orange Park and the Westside,” Melanson said. “It ended up organically turning into a story about that place.”

The area Melanson grew up near Collins Road was part Duval, part Clay in a mobile home. There was a noticeable difference between the two, she said.

“There’s multiple Orange Parks like there are multiple Jacksonvilles. When I thought about writing the story, it was that intersection between Orange Park and Westside where I grew up,” Melanson said. “As a kid, it always felt like when you crossed over to the Orange Park side there was a different mindset.”

Melanson has taught creative writing at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts for eight years. She is the co-director of the Douglas Anderson Writers’ Festival and her work has been featured in numerous journals. She said Jacksonville’s burgeoning literary community is the closest it’s been to a legitimate collective. Bridge Eight was founded in 2014 and publishes a bi-annual journal that includes local and national writers.

“What I noticed being here as an adult, after having left Jacksonville, is that 10 years ago there were individual people doing their own thing that occasionally would intersect to talk literature or collaborate,” Melanson said. “I think what Bridge Eight has done, by helping solidify a literary scene in Jacksonville, has brought all these forces together. They’ve also amplified our voices by tying them to voices outside our community.”

The “15 Views Series” was originally created by Nathan Holic and focused on Orlando. Miami and Tampa have similar collections. This summer, a Kickstarter campaign helped publish the Jacksonville edition.

“It’s a trek to get anywhere, but it’s bittersweet, knowing that, even after years, there is so much of Jacksonville left to discover. Editing this anthology was just that, a discovery. We set out for

15 views and we could have included 30,” writes the book’s fiction editor Caleb Michael Sarvis, in the book’s introduction.

“What you’ll find in Fifteen Views of Jacksonville is probably both familiar to an outsider who’s never stepped foot in our city and unexpectedly strange to locals rooted here for years. What I’d envisioned for this book, and the one you hold in your hands, are remarkably different things.”

The book is the first concentrated effort to showcase Northeast Florida – Duval, Clay and the St. Johns River – from a writer’s perspective. Melanson said the city’s artist community knows what makes it special and weird.

“So now, we’re not afraid to tell other people,” she added.

The book is available online at www.bridgeeight.com and are bookstores.

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