O, Miami wins 2014 Knight Arts Challenge Award

Added on by Scott Cunningham.

We are thrilled to announce that O, Miami is one of 47 winners of the 2014 Knight Arts Challenge award for our new publishing project, Jai-Alai Books. We are incredibly grateful to the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation for believing in the value of regional, small press publishing, and we are honored to be recognized alongside so many talented South Florida artists and organizations. We'd also like to thank our other principal supporters and partners, without whom we wouldn't be here: The Betsy Hotel, Schmidt Family Foundation, Miami-Dade County, the City of Miami Beach, Books and Books, National YoungArts Foundation, and Books & Books. Thank you, Miami. We love you.

Poetry Billboard Project

Added on by Scott Cunningham.

Miami is a place where people are used to sitting in traffic. The Transportation Institute at Texas A&M consistently ranks the Magic City among the top 15 most congested places in the country, and with the lack of a unified transit authority, there’s no end in sight. So on behalf of our fellow gridlock-relegated residents, O, Miami created Road Sage, a poetry billboard project.

O, Miami has wanted to put poems on billboards since we learned about poet Jeffrey Knapp’s billboard project in South Florida in the late 70s. Knapp is one of O, Miami’s principal inspirations: a poet who, in addition to writing great poems, created innovative public programs that brought poetry to new audiences. Check out these amazing billboards from 1979, which used poems from local students and adult poets alike:

Jeffrey Knapp's poetry billboards from 1979

Jeffrey Knapp's poetry billboards from 1979

Miami Herald coverage of "Road Poems", a project by poet Jeffrey Knapp

Miami Herald coverage of "Road Poems", a project by poet Jeffrey Knapp

Sun-Sentinel coverage of "Road Poems", a 1979 project by Miami poet Jeffrey Knapp

Sun-Sentinel coverage of "Road Poems", a 1979 project by Miami poet Jeffrey Knapp

We’ve always wanted to continue Knapp’s legacy, and after a few apprehensive phone calls to a number on a tattered sign, our billboard project, Road Sage was off the ground.

Choosing the poem was easy. Minnesota poet Todd Boss gave us his short poem, "Flamingos" literally on the spot. On his way back from a humanitarian trip to Haiti, Boss stopped by Miami for a visit and recited "Flamingos" from memory. Sing-songy and substantive, the simple and tropical poem can still be found at 432 NW 79th St. inside of a stark, black-and-white design by Flying Pyramids.

Photo by Gesi Schilling for O, Miami 2014

Photo by Gesi Schilling for O, Miami 2014

Photo by Gesi Schilling for O, Miami 2014

Photo by Gesi Schilling for O, Miami 2014

Photo by Gesi Schilling for O, Miami 2014

Photo by Gesi Schilling for O, Miami 2014

Recently, the project found a second home…on Google maps. Sometime during early May the Google Streetcar went by 79th and snapped a blurry but readable photo of Road Sage. Now part of Miami’s digital as well as physical landscape, "Flamingos" hopefully brings a moment of mental respite and joy to drivers on both paved and pixelated roads.

"Flamingos" as it appears in Google Street View

"Flamingos" as it appears in Google Street View

Patricia Lockwood reads Jonathan Franzen's "The Corrections"

Added on by Scott Cunningham.
Lockwood at Books & Books. Photo by Gesi Schilling.

Lockwood at Books & Books. Photo by Gesi Schilling.

In October of 2013 we invited poet and twitter icon Patricia Lockwood to Miami to read from her first book of poems, Balloon Pop Outlaw Black (Octopus Books, 2012), as part of our Knight-funded Visiting Poet Series. 

Since her visit to Miami, Lockwood has garnered a great deal of press. Her second book, Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals (Penguin Books, 2014), just received a glowing review from The New York Times Book Review and Stephen Burt. In May, Lockwood was the subject of a New York Times Sunday magazine profile as well as a review on Slate that situated her writing within the current atmosphere in contemporary poetry. Almost simultaneously, a short piece on Lockwood ran in The New Yorker's Page-Turner blog with an O, Miami photo taken by the great Gesi Schilling.

Then, true to Lockwood's ability to create conversation, responses started coming in to those initial reviews. (In case you missed it, Poetry Foundation's blog Harriet has a handy guide to it all, with extended quotes and links.)

So it's probably about time that we posted the following video, which we made with Tricia during her Miami visit. The premise was simple: take Lockwood to Books & Books in Coral Gables and let her do anything she wants. 

We have a ton of footage from that day, which we may or may not get around to editing, but until then, here's Patricia Lockwood reading a passage from Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections.

New videos from April

Added on by Scott Cunningham.

Have you seen our new videos from O, Miami 2014 yet? Lottery tickets with poems hidden in them; poets trading poems for beer; and spreading joy throughout Miami via street sign. 

Follow us on Vimeo and stay-tuned to omiami.org - more are on the way.

Buying Guns N' Roses in a Canoe: Nathan Deuel returns to Miami

Added on by Scott Cunningham.

Nathan Deuel is the author of Friday Was the Bomb. Named a Best Book of the Month by Amazon, Friday Was the Bomb is a non-fiction account of living in the Middle East, losing his father, and becoming a father himself.

Before he moved to the Middle East, he was a staff writer for The Rolling Stone and The Village Voice, and before that, Deuel was an adventurous, nerdy kid in Miami. He was the founder and editor of the long-running zine, Dilirium, the name of which was later changed to S.854 after the band Delirium sent him a cease-and-desist letter. Why S.854? "It was the prisoner's number in [Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's] One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich," he says. He interviewed bands like Fugazi for the zine and was the kind of 12-year-old who, on a whim, biked from Palmetto Bay to John Pennekamp. 

"I also canoed all over the place. I think I even took a canoe to buy [Guns N' Roses's] Use Your Illusion I and II at Spec's," he says. "Until I was 14 I basically was always on my bike or in a canoe." What happened at 14? "I discovered punk rock."

Deuel is back in his hometown for a book tour after recently returning to the States with his daughter, and his wife Kelly, a national correspondent for NPR. He reads at Books & Books in Coral Gables this Tuesday, June 3rd, at 8 p.m

PSC: Where were you when you learned your dad was sick?

ND: We were in Yemen when I learned he was sick, in Qatar when he had the surgery, and by the time I got to Jacksonville, where he was at the Mayo Clinic, and he had 13 days to live. It was brutal and gross and agozining, fighting for a guy who was dying in such pain. And then shortly thereafter NPR offers [my wife] Kelly the job in Baghdad. I am a shell of a man, and move to Istanbul with our one-year-old daughter. So while I'm staggering around, hung over, Kelly is being mortared at a compound in Iraq, guarded by 50 mm cannons, and I am supposed to be this single dad? I was not good at it.

PSC: So Kelly is going back and forth from Istanbul to Bagdad?

ND: Yeah, she'd be in Iraq for 60 days, then get 30 days out. We Skyped every day and tried to stay in touch. My full time job was basically to facilitate her digital motherhood and to keep Loretta safe and warm and fed. 

PSC: You were getting drunk to deal with the pain of losing your father?

ND: Lots of boozing, for sure. I mean, I grew up in a boozing family -- we both did. But in Turkey I was getting sauced out of fear, loneliness, boredom, frustration. Not all the time but it wasn't a healthy situation. 

PSC: I don't have kids yet but I can't imagine taking care of a toddler while drunk or hungover.

ND: Oh, I never cared for her while drunk. I'd just hit it after she was asleep. And I wasn't like getting blacked out or something. So we manage to do that for a year and a half. And it wasn't all that bad. We had a sumptuous apartment in a heartbreaking, beautiful part of a legendary town: in Galata, at the end of Istiklal [Avenue], just up the street from the tower. But Kelly's in Iraq and then the revolutions start spreading: Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, and she starts to cover them, especially Syria. And it earns her a transfer to Beirut, where we all move in Nov 2011. In theory, it was gonna be great: this gorgeous town, on the Mediterranean, surrounded by mountains, lots of colleagues, and we'd actually live together. And Kelly would cover the Syrian's march to freedom! But then an uprising encounters a brutal crackdown, which slowly devolves into the rivers of blood that is now a civil war. Kelly went into Damascus on an official visa, but then she started going in overland, embedding with the rebels.

PSC: I imagine that was super dangerous....

ND: Her colleagues started getting killed. Either dying of asthma attacks on a horse crossing a rocky range back into Turkey or getting blown up by regime bombs.

PSC: What was her "closest-to-death" moment?

ND: Hmm, she probably hasn't told me about that moment -- and in fact might not be able to still. She ended up doing an hour-long documentary about how much she enjoyed the work, and the way she arrived at the decision to quit doing it. It's intense.  In it, a woman whose father was shot in the neck and died challenges Kelly. She says you're not [reporting on the war] to make the world a better place...You're doing it because it's fun. Admit it. And Kelly kind of does. The woman says, Write a letter to your family, a letter they can read if you die, and in that letter tell them why you chose the work over them. And so Kelly writes this letter, and she reads it out loud on tape, and it airs on NPR. I've never heard or read the letter, and I hope I never have to. It's in a book in our bedroom and we'll burn it some day. Just haven't gotten to it yet. We're too busy enjoying the fuck out of living in L.A.

This excerpted conversation between Nathan Deuel and P. Scott Cunningham took place on gchat on Thursday, May 29, 2014 and has been edited for spelling. 

 

Dept. of Poetry Works

Added on by Jessie Aufiery.

Montage photos by: Manita Brug, Randy Burman, Juan Erman Gonzalez, Stella Mariani-Gonzalez, Deborah Gray Mitchell, Paul Morris, Steven D Morse, & Sarah Trudgeon.

Montage photos by: Manita Brug, Randy Burman, Juan Erman Gonzalez, Stella Mariani-Gonzalez, Deborah Gray Mitchell, Paul Morris, Steven D Morse, & Sarah Trudgeon.

Created by artist and graphic designer Randy Burman in collaboration with a number of local poets, the Miami-Dade Department of Poetry Works Poetry Traffic Sign project installed poetry traffic signs all around Miami-Dade County during this year’s O, Miami poetry festival in April. The signs looked exactly like real traffic signs, except each one contained a poem instead of the usual NO PARKING, etc.

Poem by Annette Wells. Photos courtesy of Randy Burman..

Poem by Annette Wells. Photos courtesy of Randy Burman..

'What is the Poetry Traffic Sign project all about anyway?' asks the project's website, answering: 'Well there’s only one answer to that: humanity. That’s why poetry and all the arts are important. The other stuff is boom and bust. You have it. You don’t have it. Fortunes are made and lost. Gained again, or not. Times, styles and circumstances change, but one thing is constant and certain. Our need to understand each other is what “really” matters. That’s what this project is about. Little interventions to stimulate the discoverer’s sense of humanity. Tiny gestures, to be sure, but bold enough to take on the challenge of making the world a better place one poem at a time.'

Poem by Joshua Landsman.

Poem by Joshua Landsman.

Poet Annette Wells wrote this about Dept. of Poetry Works: “Thank you for your wonderful whimsical project. I love semiotics, so am interested to see firsthand people’s reactions to the unexpected road signs… In a time when the arts are being marginalized in schools, maybe this will capture people’s attention and they will insist that their kids get a dose or two of creative writing! At very least it will give people something interesting to think about.

Poem by Jim Drain.

Poem by Jim Drain.

When asked what will become of the signs, Burman said: “Well, in the case of the last poetry sign I installed [on a pier], I think it will be covered with barnacles very soon. Depending on how quickly the sea rises, that process may take a little longer for some of the others. Many of the signs are no longer where they were installed. I’m not sure if they were removed by authorities, or by individuals who simply wanted a poetry sign for themselves. Many are still in place and it's anybody's guess how long they will remain. I have no present plans to remove any, and in fact still have a few left I’d like to install in some of the places we never got around to. I will admit to the fact that I still have some signs, installation hardware, and tools in my car, and will very likely not be able to resist installing a few more when the opportunity arises.”

Sample poem created as a prototype for Dept. of Poetry Works.

Sample poem created as a prototype for Dept. of Poetry Works.

Would Burman consider continuing on with the Dept. of Poetry Works at a future time? “I'd gladly do this project again. The whole process—creating the call for submissions, receiving the submissions, investigating the materials, planning, mapping the county, and especially the installations—was exhilarating. Really the closest I've come to performance art. We'd go out on the streets with our official looking Department of Poetry Works shirts, hardhat, tool belt, orange cones, Bob's Barricades A-frame signs, and I'm sure to all the passersby we just seemed like any other Men at Work municipal employee." 

Poem by Jeffrey Knapp. Photo of Randy Burman with Dina Knapp.

Poem by Jeffrey Knapp. Photo of Randy Burman with Dina Knapp.

"Here" - A Public Poetry Project on Miami Websites

Added on by Jessie Aufiery.

Screen shot from the Miami Music Project website.

Screen shot from the Miami Music Project website.

<"HERE"> was a public art piece located on Miami-based websites during the month of April, 2014. An original line of verse by poet Joshua Mehigan was coded into the website of participating organizations. No special attention was called to the line of verse, nor was the project announced on the participating websites themselves. 

The line comes from Mehigan’s poem “Here”, from his forthcoming collection, Accepting the Disaster (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2014), and was embedded with a hyperlink to the full text of the poem. The list of Miami-based websites to participate was extensive:

Screen shot from the Thomas Armour Youth ballet website.

Screen shot from the Thomas Armour Youth ballet website.

Screen shot from the Fountainhead Residency website.

Screen shot from the Fountainhead Residency website.

Screen shot from the University of Miami Website.

Screen shot from the University of Miami Website.

Screen shot from the Soul of Miami website.

Screen shot from the Soul of Miami website.

Screen shot from The Motivational Edge website.

Screen shot from The Motivational Edge website.

Screen shot from the Sweat Records website.

Screen shot from the Sweat Records website.

Buy the O, Vampire Weekend T-Shirt

Added on by Scott Cunningham.

Due to popular demand, we've made a limited-edition run of the O, Miami t-shirt Vampire Weekend drummer Chris Tomson sported at the band's two local shows at the Fillmore Miami Beach, 4/30/14 and 5/1/14. You can now buy one of your own at our store

The Miami New Times Cultist blog was the first to notice: they wrote about it in their review of the 4/30 show and posted it on Twitter, too. 

The next night our friends at Infraculture noticed, too, and posted a pic on their Instagram feed.

There aren't many of these (especially if you want a small or an extra large), but we hope you'll hope buy one to help support what we do at O, Miami. Thank you!