New national literary landmark dedicated in Key West February 6, honoring the late David Kaufelt.
To be installed at Key West’s public library where novelist David Kaufelt led the inaugural Key West Literary Seminar in 1983, the literary landmark is the ninth in the island city. Other Key West literary landmarks designate locations including the former homes of author Ernest Hemingway, playwright Tennessee Williams (home pictured below) and poet Elizabeth Bishop.
Kaufelt, who died in 2014, was recognized at the dedication ceremony for his writing and his enthusiastic support of the island city’s rich literary culture after he arrived in 1974, following a career as a New York City-based advertising copywriter. Among his most noted product taglines were “Choosy mothers choose Jif” and “Take Ex-Lax tonight and have a good day tomorrow.”
“Key West had a literary heritage long before David came along, but before David arrived, Key West would never have been described as a place with a literary culture that colored everyday life,” says Arlo Haskell, executive director of the seminar that brings leading national and international writers to the island each January.
“David took the heritage and history of Key West and reinvigorated it as a living story,” Haskell continues. “He made it so that great literature and important writers are as central to Key West’s identity as sunsets and conch houses.”
Other speakers at the dedication, attended by about 200 people, included renowned authors and Key West residents Ann Beattie and Judy Blume, who praised Kaufelt’s talent and wit.
“He never stopped creating,” Blume says, recalling a friendship with Kaufelt that began in 1952 in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
Kaufelt’s novels include American Tropic, recently reissued as Florida; Six Months with an Older Woman, which was made into a film starring John Ritter; and the Wyn Lewis mystery series.
Literary landmark designation is conferred by United for Libraries, a division of the American Library Association. The Kaufelt landmark is cosponsored by the Monroe County Public Library, the Friends of the Key West Library and the Key West Literary Seminar.
Ceremony photo provided by Florida Keys & Key West.