ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Welcome to 9 Questions with…, an exclusive Spectrum Bay News 9 feature in which we get to know some of the Bay area’s movers and shakers a little better. It could be a politician, an artist, a first responder, a bartender—just about anyone, really. This week’s subject is poet and mother Maureen McDole, who is the founder of local nonprofit literary community Keep St. Pete Lit. Is there someone you’d like to answer 9 Questions? Let us know!

What You Need To Know

  • Spectrum Bay News 9's series spotlights notable members of the Tampa Bay community

  • Maureen McDole is the founder and driving force behind nonprofit Keep St. Pete Lit.

  • Check back every week for a new "9 Questions with..."

Are you a Tampa Bay native? If not, where are you from?

I was born and raised in St. Pete. I spent eight years, from 1995-2002, in Asheville, NC, but once I moved back to St. Pete I haven’t wanted to live anywhere else. 

How would you describe your job or claim to fame?

I am a poet and Founder/Executive Director of the literary arts organization, Keep St. Pete Lit. 

What’s your favorite Tampa Bay restaurant?

Anywhere that serves yummy pho. 

Do you have a personal Tampa Bay “secret spot” and/or “hidden treasure”?

Yes, I have many, but if I share them then they won’t be a secret. I do love knowing the side streets to take around St. Pete to avoid traffic. 

What is your favorite Tampa Bay tradition?

Anything involving the water and the people I love the most. 

What’s one thing many people don’t know about you that you’re willing to share with us?

I am descended from carnival folk. 

If you could change one thing about the Tampa Bay area or your community specifically, what would it be?

More affordable housing and environmental regulations for the State of Florida. 

Now that we’re a year into COVID, how do you think Keep St. Pete Lit handled pivoting to streaming, etc.? Do you think it permanently changed the way you’ll operate moving forward?

I feel that we were able to pivot in a sustainable way, but I am looking forward to more in-person events starting in the fall. I miss seeing our community. The online world allows us to reach outside of Tampa Bay, which is wonderful, too. 

What’s on the horizon for the organization?

We are excited to expand our programming further at our new office location at The Factory Saint Pete. We’re also partnering with the National Senior Games in helping senior athletes write their stories of how they become athletes and overcome ageism, and we’re also adding five more book boxes to our book box program in collaboration with the WORD! initiative. Through that program we give out free culturally diverse books to kids in South St. Pete.