O, Miami Poetry Festival

From April 1st – 30th

O, Miami returns this April for a new round of events and projects that attempt to deliver a poem to all 2.6 million+ residents of Miami-Dade County. “We’re thrilled to once again surprise Miamians,” says Executive Director P. Scott Cunningham.
Both a celebration of contemporary poetry and an experimental project to turn a metropolitan area into a canvas for the literary arts, O, Miami weaves poetry into existing infrastructures and combines it with other forms in order to democratize participation in the arts. “Poetry is a living, breathing force that can light up the city. O, Miami is its platform. The written word leaves the printed page for a parade on South Beach, morphs into interpretive dance in Hialeah, and along the way helps art become part of people’s everyday lives,” says Alberto Ibargüen, president of Knight Foundation.

Poetry in the Park
On April 5th, O, Miami partners with New World Symphony and the City of Miami Beach to present a new kind of live poetry reading in Soundscape Park. Former U.S. Poets Laureate Robert Hass and Kay Ryan will join National Book Award-winner Nikki Finney for an intimate reading inside the New World Symphony, while a crowd will watch the reading for free in Soundscape Park as it’s live-projected onto the 7,000 square foot wall of the symphony. From 5-8 p.m., enjoy free music and performances in the park. At 8 p.m., spread out your picnic blanket and enjoy the “biggest” poetry reading in the history of Miami.

Co-created by O, Miami and WLRN, #ThisIsWhere is a poetry contest that asks South Floridians to write short poems about the places they care about. Beginning the last week of March, WLRN will accept submissions of short poems that include the phrase “This is where…” Every Friday, WLRN will announce the top ten poems of the week on their website. On April 23rd, a list of finalists will be announced who will read at a special event on April 30th. Some contributing poets will appear on WLRN radio and WBPT2 TV. Go to WLRN.org for more info on how to enter.

Living with Poetry
“Living with Poetry” draws inspiration from Nicanor Parra’s antipoesia and anti-poems in order to create an experience that draws from visual, literary, and spoken poetry. The project consists of a space created by the Guatemalan-based collaborative BIP (Bureau of Public Interventions) at O, Miami’s Edgewater Poetry and Athletics Club. BIP’s mediation of the festival’s “homebase” not only serves as a reflection on how notions of the visual and the literal intersect, but also on how conceptions of public and private space are formulated. BIP is a collaborative project by Stefan Benchoam and Christian Ochaita that originated as a direct response to the lack of public spaces and infrastructures for recreation and socializing in Guatemala City, Guatemala. Their projects encourage the use of public spaces through playful elements and unusual occurrences, and are developed through their collaboration with other artists, collectives and people in general. The interventions and occurrences that they organize can be read as Situationist gestures that generate reflection and debate about their city.

Edgewater Poetry & Athletics Club
A partnership with The Related Group, the E.P.A.C. is a two-story house that O, Miami is transforming into a community wellness center for the month of April. Spiritually depleted? Physically lethargic? Come to the Edgewater Poetry & Athletics Club during the month of April for poetry readings, water aerobics, yoga, meditation, zine fairs, and games of pick-up basketball.

The Poetry Lottery
Artist Agustina Woodgate and poet Mary Reufle have joined forces to create the Poetry Lottery: a scratch-off lottery ticket that works like an erasure poem in reverse. Use a penny or your fingernail to unveil the words of an original text by Reufle. Reveal the whole thing, or co-create a new poem with Reufle by picking and choosing which words to uncover. The tickets will be distributed only in Miami-Dade County during the month of April.

Cuban, Cuban-American, Spanish, and Chicano poetry
O, Miami will feature readings, discussions, and workshops with: Pablo Neruda Ibero-American Poetry Prize-winner José Kozer, American Book Award-winner Jimmy Santiago Baca, Cuban poet Legna Rodríguez Iglesias, Spanish poet Elena Medel, and local Miami poet Yosie Crespo.

HOME: Beyond Geography
Home: Beyond Geography is a participatory writing project created by interdisciplinary artists Juana Meneses and Leila A. Leder Kremer. The project explores the identity of our port city, mapping Miami’s residents’ personal histories. During the month of April 2014, Juana and Leila will visit—armed with pens, paper and maps —different Miami neighborhoods. An opening line, prompted to the neighbors, will elicit written responses around themes of identity, home and mobility. This writing will be collected, copied and distributed to residents during subsequent visits to other districts. The result: a poetry exchange between Miami residents. A selection of the poems collected, and a map showing the participating neighborhoods, will be compiled into a zine to be available for free at the conclusion of the project.

The Last Ride of José Martí
An homage to the continued significance of the life and work of Cuban poet and revolutionary José Martí. Actor Ivan Lopez—dressed as Martí—will ride down Calle Ocho on the back of a white horse and distribute roses outfitted with Martí poems.

Free workshop for Miami student editors
Don Share, Executive Editor of the largest circulating poetry journal in the country, Poetry magazine, leads a free workshop for Miami-area student literary magazine editors. Share will also read his own work the following night, in addition to his translations of the great Mexican poet Miguel Hernández.

The First-ever LitCrawl Miami
O, Miami drags the popular literary pub crawl series into the humidity. Bars and clubs on South Beach will host a variety of boozy performances by Miami-area writers from all genres and styles during a night that will test your Bukowskian pretensions. Leave your elitism at home, and bring along a designated driver.

Poet-in-Residence at Gramp’s Bar
Wynwood’s favorite watering hole Gramp’s will host thirty one-day residencies for poets. Miami-area poets may apply on-line with a short line of verse about booze. Each poet will be given the last stool at the end of the bar. For each poem written on a cocktail napkin, the poet will receive one free beer (limit three beers). At the end of the month, Gramp’s will create a zine from the month’s worth of poems.

A Funeral Procession for Juan Gelman
To commemorate the death of Argentine poet Juan Gelman, artist Jordan Marty will drive through every single neighborhood playing a bilingual recording of Gelman’s poetry via a short-wave transistor radio.

Poetry, music, dance, visual art: all of these are elements of SPEAKtacular, a full-scale production that combines multiple art forms into a one-of-a-kind show. Youth poets from the Jason Taylor Foundation’s Omari Hardwick bluapple Poetry Network will dazzle and inspire with their words as musicians, dancers, and visual artists create and express alongside them onstage. Organized by poets Darius Daughtry and Ashley M. Jones, this unique event is not your average slam or variety hour—just the arts, blended beautifully.

Zine Fair
Zines are magazines made by people who don’t have the money to make magazines. O, Miami honors the long tradition of D.I.Y. publishing in Miami with a day-time zine fair thrown in partnership with Pages & Spreads and University of Miam
i Special Collections. Local artists and publishers will display, trade, and sell their zines. Perrier and KIND will distribute snacks, and the backyard pool at the Edgewater Poetry & Athletics Club will be open.

Road Sage
Consistently ranked among the top 15 most congested cities in the country, Miami is a place where people are used to sitting in traffic. “Road Sage” is an O, Miami project designed to give those people something to read while they are stuck in their cars. The project has two main locations: (1) Biscayne Blvd and NE 22nd St. and (2) NE 79th St and NW 4th Court. The Biscayne location features a stanza from Chilean poet Pablo Neruda’s “Sonnet XLIII” in the original Spanish, written on the windows of a building by Haitian sign artist Serge Toussaint. “Sometimes my fiancé Christina is driving home on Biscayne Blvd.,” says O, Miami Executive Director P. Scott Cunningham, “and she’ll honk as she’s passing beneath my office window. Most times however, the honks I hear below me are expressions of anger, or “road rage.” I decided to write a love poem to Christina on the window that could also serve as a general message for everyone on Biscayne who is stuck in traffic and trying to get home to someone they love.” The second location features a poem called “Flamingoes” by American poet Todd Boss that can only be described as “So Miami.”

Poetry Spoke Cards
A spoke card is a printed card suspended in the spokes of a bicycle wheel, historically to identify the cyclist’s participation in a street race. This unlikely platform has since been used to display small works from art to political endorsements. Award-winning designer Gabriele Wilson will work with poets Brett Fletcher Lauer and Elsbeth Pancrazi to create spoke cards printed with poetry, which will be distributed for free at O, Miami events and local bike shops, and through participating cycling groups. The cards will be a badge to identify poetry lovers, and an eye-catching and unexpected encounter with poetry.

Anonymous Letters
Much has been reported recently on the death of handwriting, in terms of hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, as a link between handwriting and learning ability, and even creativity. For instance, handwriting has been proving as a better tool for imprinting words to memory than typing. In “Anonymous Letters”, Miami artist Christina Pettersson will create a space where visitors can choose a poem from a book, copy it by hand onto stationary, and then mail it to an unknown person in Miami, chosen randomly out of the white pages. “I hope to re-introduce the beauty of knowing lines of poetry by rote, as people once did,” Pettersson says. “ And what unexpected pleasure to receive such a letter in the mail, lovingly conceived and written, certain to be remembered.”

ABOUT O, MIAMI O, Miami Poetry Festival was created in 2011 with founding support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The festival occurs every April and has the mission of every single person in Miami-Dade County encountering a poem in the span of one month. For more, visit omiami.org. For a multimedia report on the inaugural festival that was commissioned by Knight Foundation, visit knightarts.org/omiami.


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