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Bridge House hosts reading

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- A trio of environmental authors connected with an audience in Albany through an essay, biting humor and a seeming love story about a fish.

"UnspOILed: An Evening of Environmental Inspiration and Action" brought Florida's Dawn Evans Radford, Diane Roberts and Albany's O. Victor Miller to the Bridge House Tuesday night to read from their works.

The evening was sponsored by the Flint Riverkeeper organization and the Albany Audubon Society.

The writer's works were collected in "unspOILed: Writers Speak for Florida's Coast." The book was conceived before the BP oil spill in the Gulf, but coincidentally brought out about 30 days after the oil spread through the Gulf's blue waters killing fish, birds and the tidelands.

"We thought it was about why we shouldn't drill for oil in the Gulf in the future," said Roberts, a commentator for National Public Radio and professor of creative writing at Florida State University.

"We though the anthology would be a lobbying effort, a work of art that showed why the Gulf's environment was so special."

Roberts said she felt politicians were stupid and venal. Judging from the humor of her essay in the book, they are.

About the riches promised Floridians from oil drilled in the Gulf she wrote in her essay, "Selling Florida."

"Here's the thing about Florida and money. Other states sell stuff they make ... stuff they grow ... or stuff they think up. Florida sells itself. Is drilling a draw for snowbirds? Maybe we could market an adventure holiday scrubbing spilled oil off sea birds on Florida's Gulf Coast."

Remember, that was written before the BP oil spill to stop further drilling in the Gulf.

Radford, a Panhandle-raised author, read from her contribution to the book, "Keeping Watch."

"Estuaries teemed with beds of silky, succulent oysters across Apalachicola Bay, nurseries of shrimp, and blue crab is estuarine marshes, and rare grass beds for spawning mullet, trout, sturgeon, and the leviathan-like tarpon."

Due to the flow of rivers such as the Flint River into the Gulf, Radford pointed out the connection of the environment shared by residents everywhere.

Then Miller, a retired Darton College professor, read from his tale, "Ichthus." The story read much like a love poem to a fish, the mullet to be exact. But there was a shotgun ending that leaves the story's protagonist "wobbling in his smoking wake, confounded."

As read or more exactly performed by Miller, the story brought gales of laughter from the audience, which included a few students from the Beta Club of Dougherty Comprehensive High School.

"I just didn't know there were people here in Albany that interested in the environment," said Selina Gonzalez, a senior in the Beta Club. "I think it is really good that people take their time out for environmental concerns."

Following the reading there was a more meat and potatoes 90-minute training session with environmental lobbyist Neil Herring for people interested in becoming politically active as conservationists.

The anthology "UnspOILed: Writers Speak for Florida's Coast" is available from the website, unspoiledbook.com.