Manny Lopez of Zu Galeria Fine Arts on Miami’s Calle Ocho has taken it upon himself to promote the literary arts in our city through a series of nights in which he dedicates his space to intimate Poetry Readings. “My poetry readings, or ‘Noches de Poesia’, have been very successful. They have generated a lot of attention, and other places that were not doing this have developed similar events,” says Lopez, “Noches de Poesia has been an incredible opportunity for those who come here on a monthly basis to spend quality time with incredible writers and meet and talk to them on a one on one basis, which sometimes is hard to do.”
Just as Lopez says, it is incredibly important for Miami, a city so busy and dedicated to its continuous growth in the arts, to acknowledge the existence of every possible form of art; Lopez has taken its written kind and placed it in the same spectrum as the visual one – “I think in today’s world, the more you know the better,” he explains, “Poetry has opened up for me an incredible alternative, and one that does go together with art.”
Lopez started this endeavor by inviting poets whose work he had always enjoyed and admired, and often reaches out to local publishing houses like Bluebird Editions, and Entre Rios who Lopez says have supported these activities since the beginning. The amazing participation of these artists and publishers, and the evident success of the event, led other well-versed artists to contact Manny and request to appear at “Noches de Poesia”.
The positive experience and energy rendered by Zu’s poetry readings made Lopez turn this “experiment” into a staple of his gallery and the Calle Ocho art culture, “I think what is happening here is a positive thing,” he says of the local scene, “although it is a slow process because of the current economic crisis we are encountering all over the world, slowly more and more activities are taking place here; good quality events – whether art, music, movies, or poetry.”
Likewise, Lopez’s effort of spreading the poetry hype even past Miami’s city limits are a definite accomplishment, having taped a reading by Cuban poet Elena Tamargo as a part of a documentary of Miami’s cultural scene that is currently being shown in public TV stations in Bilbao, Spain as well as on Iberia Flights within the country.
Like any art-scene pioneer, Lopez’s main goal is to get the people of Miami as well as the city’s visitors motivated and involved in the our local scene. Miami has a lot to offer as a community that is incredibly rich in diverse cultures that have melted onto our streets; “For me, the most important thing is to spread the word,” he says, “to get people interested, to offer a night a month to those who want to spend a night away from home, from everyday troubles in a cultured environment in my patio, an extension of my home.”