O, Miami Brings Poetry to the People in April

“Is it the people? Houses? Fields? The Weather? / Is it the streets? Is it these things together? / Nothing here ever changes, till it does.”

The above triplet from the second stanza of Joshua Mehigan’s rhetorical poem Here in which the speaker ponders on the mutability of a place could be about sunny Miami. But, the poem, which is taken from his upcoming book Accepting the Disaster, further describes a place where the seasons leave their colorful marks on nature…….

The lines, “Each fall the dew point falls until it rises./ White snow, green buds, green lawn, red leaves, white snow,” clearly depict a place far colder and altering with the elements. Miami is a city without seasons. Without the changes of nature that inspire such poetic metaphors, suspended here in an immutable summer, one might wonder if our tropical element lacks the ability to breed the depth that thrives in watching things die and bloom.

Back by popular demand this atypical Magic City Spring (from April 1, 2014 to April 30, 2014), the O, Miami Poetry Festival will help answer the question and show the rest of the country that the sunny embers of South Florida can ignite the fires of poesy in its people. As one of the festival’s public art projects titled [Here], different lines from Mehigan’s poem will be embedded with a hyperlink to the full-length piece on the websites of Miami organizations including our very own miamiartzine.com.

The online poetry installation is meant to express how these various cultural organizations are all interconnected, strung together like pieces of a poetic garland, beautifying our city. [Here] is just one of many experimental, creative projects from the third annual O, Miami Poetry Festival.

Poetry in the Park

Photographer: Robin Hill

Poetry in the Park

“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. Sponsored by the Knight Foundation, the annual literary festival seeks to bring a poem to every person (about 2.6 million residents) in Miami-Dade County for the entire month of April, which was inaugurated National Poetry Month in 1996. The 2014 O, Miami Poetry Festival is presenting a more inclusive and impressive project line-up than it has in previous years.According to organizer Scott Cunningham, “As O, Miami grows and progresses, we’re constantly trying to find new ways to meet the mission of reaching everyone in Miami. One of the things we’ve put more and more emphasis on is enlisting locals as co-creators of the festival. Poetry is about empowerment for us, which means that we want Miami to take ownership over the festival. We don’t want O, Miami to be something we impress upon our home, but something that our home takes ownership over. About half of our programming budget this year is composed of other people’s ideas, and going forward, we’d like to increase that percentage.”

Some of this year’s events include the “biggest” poetry reading in the history of Miami, which will project poet laureates reciting verses onto the Soundscape’s 7000 square-foot wall, a Florida poetic scratch-off lottery where visual artists meets wordsmiths, a drunken Bukowski-style literary pub-crawl, a house of literary and spiritual wellness, a collective zine fair, and a community garden poetry tree building event.

Poetry at the R.Y.P.E. Buena Vista Community Garden. Verse by Monica Torres:

Photographer: Vera Arias

Poetry at the R.Y.P.E. Buena Vista Community Garden. Verse by Monica Torres: “if we are rain/ you are my sun-shower/ i am a hurricane.”


Read more of  O, Miami: Poetry for the People in April published on the MiamiArtZine.com.

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