All posts by Donna Smith

Dita e Verës inspired by Professor’s Time Abroad

Moody crumbling ruins in a forest changing orange with the seasons.

Prolific and acclaimed writer and St. Petersburg College Professor Dr. Gregory Byrd recently published a short story, Dita e Verës, in the Winter 2021 issue of Baltimore Review that was inspired in part by the time he spent in Albania.

Byrd, who has taught creative writing, English composition, and literature at SPC since 1990, earned his bachelor’s degree from Eckerd College, master’s degree in Creative Writing from Florida State University and his doctoral degree in American Literature from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Dr. Gregory Byrd looks directly into camera

Byrd spent time as a Fulbright Fellow in Albania in 2011, teaching creative writing. His story, Dita e Verës, is a tale of unimaginable grief juxtaposed with a festive setting at the annual Albanian celebration of spring by the same name. Byrd said he received tragic news while in Albania during Dita e Verës.

“While I was there, my mother sent news that my cousin had been murdered in rural Nevada, her body buried in a shallow grave,” Byrd said. “About that time, we attended the Summer Day festival and it seemed ironic in a sort of T.S. Eliot way, that there would be a celebration of life while I was thinking of my cousin’s murder.”

Byrd has published many scholarly essays, articles and poetry, and he was nominated for a prestigious Pushcart Prize. His novels, both set in World War I, include Where Shadow Meets Water, about a pilot from Florida, and Long Train Home to Scarborough, about a reporter and a nurse. His poetry chapbook, The Name for the God Who Speaks, won the Robert Phillips Prize from Texas Review Press.  He has also published two other poetry chapbooks, Florida Straits and At Penuel.

To read more about Byrd’s time in Albania, follow him on his blog.

To learn more about SPC’s humanities and writing courses, check out our Communications offerings.

SPC Communications Student Featured in People Magazine

communications student

February was American Heart Health Month, and People Magazine chose St. Petersburg College Communications student Maddie Price to feature in a story about her journey through life with a heart condition.

The Palm Harbor native was born with a congenital heart defect, and has had more than 100 surgeries, including two heart transplants.

Price had her first transplant at age 5, then a second at 15. She is now 19, and told People that now that she’s an adult, she realizes how important it is for her to take her medicine and monitor her condition.

“Until I was a teenager, I thought, ‘Oh, this is normal. You go to the doctor every week, you get labs done, you take a ton of medicine two, three times a day,” Price told the magazine. “It wasn’t until I started going to the doctor on my own that I really started to understand that this is a condition I’ll have forever, and I have to be responsible about it.”

After having her second transplant at 15, she still graduated from high school on time, and is now a freshman at SPC. She works with families who are going through the processes of heart transplants, educating them and offering advice and assistance.

Price, who dreams of working for the American Heart Association, is already active within the organization. She is currently part of their Go Red for Women campaign, which strives to increase awareness by telling the stories of real women affected by cardiovascular issues. She has also created fundraising events for the organization, and she participates in local American Heart Association events.

Price takes around 30 pills per day, which has taken a toll on her body. She is now anticipating a kidney transplant in April 2020. She is forging ahead with her degree, with the support of her instructors.

“I’m taking all of my classes online,” she said. “And my professors have been so easy to work with. If I miss something, they give me an extension.”

In spite of all she has been through, Price remains optimistic.

“Life is precious,” she told People Magazine. “You just take every moment that you get and keep going, even when there’s bumps in the road.”

SPC offers fun, free writing workshop by Dr. Roy Peter Clark

writing workshop

Even students who get drowsy at the mere mention of writing instruction will enjoy the upcoming writing workshop given by Dr. Roy Peter Clark, who livens up his talks with some rocking piano pieces, fun pop culture references and some seriously charismatic energy.

Clark’s free workshop, offered by St. Petersburg College, will be held at the college’s Downtown Campus on August 30, 2017, from 1- 2 p.m. in room DC-210. Faculty and staff who attend will receive one PDU credit.

Clark is a writer and editor, and has been a teacher of writing to students of all ages since 1979. He recently retired from the Poynter Institute, where he started out as their first full-time faculty member, then retired as vice president and senior scholar. He has appeared on several radio and television talk shows, including The Oprah Winfrey Show, where she declared him her “media expert.” He is the author or editor of eighteen books, including Writing Tools, The Glamour of Grammar, How to Write Short and The Art of X-ray Reading.

Event organizer Lauren Dykes, an Instructional Support Specialist at the Downtown Campus, knows Clark well, as he is her father. Dykes says that though her dad has retired, he is still working at what he loves: Teaching people how to write.

“He has a lot more time on his hands, and he offered to come in and try to help people sharpen their writing skills,” Dykes said.

Students, of course are encouraged to attend, but tutors, faculty, staff and anyone interested in writing are also welcome and would benefit.

“Students will benefit by being exposed to new approaches to writing,” Dykes said, “instructors will enjoy observing Dr. Clark’s approach to presenting the information and anyone could benefit from learning the skills needed to effectively communicate in today’s society.”

For more information, contact Lauren Dykes at


SPC Professor Emeritus to lead author event

Gabriel Horn

Award winning author and St. Petersburg College Professor Emeritus Gabriel Horn will speak at the Nov. 14 author event at the Mirror Lake Public Library.

Horn, a long-time activist for the spiritual and academic rights of Native Americans, lives in St. Petersburg. He taught SPC students from 1988 until his retirement in 2015, and has a writing career that spans 40 years. Though he retired from academia, he continues to teach and write. He co-founded and co-directed the first Native American Writers Camp for children on the Cherokee reservation, and has instructed young journalists at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies.

Horn’s latest book, Motherless, is a coming-of-age tale set on the Florida coast. It tells the story of a young Native American girl, Rainy, who was orphaned at 5 and lives with her grandfather and is trying to understand herself and world she lives in. Motherless was released in late 2015, and has earned awards from the state of Florida and has received national and international attention, including:


• 2016 International Book Award Winner- Multicultural Fiction
• 2016 Indie Excellence Book Award finalist
• Honorable mention, 2016 Paris Book Festival – Spiritual
• 2016 Award of Literary Excellence – Friends of Florida Mid-County Regional Library
• 2016 Next Generation Indie Award – Finalist Best Overall Cover Design Fiction
• 2015 Florida Book Award Bronze Medal – Young Adult Literature

Horn will share the stage with his life partner, Amy Krout-Horn, a novelist(Dancing in Concrete Moccasins), essayist and a writer of short stories. She is a regular contributor to Slate and Style magazines.

The event, sponsored by The Friends of the Mirror Lake Library and Keep St. Pete Lit, is free and open to the public and will be held on the second floor of the Mirror Lake Library, 280 5th Street North, in St. Petersburg. Opening remarks and the lecture begin at 5:30, with an author reception and book signing from 6:30-7 p.m. For more information, call the Mirror Lake Library at 727-893-7268, or print the flyer: mlfriendsauthorevent-amy-krout-hornandgabriel-horn