FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, March 12, 2015:
"O, Miami tests the limits of what’s possible when circulating poems among a community. Miamians should watch out for poetry on buildings, on the river, in the mail, and even in the bathroom." - P. Scott Cunningham, Director of O, Miami
O, Miami, the month-long “Poetry for all” festival, returns to Miami in April 2015
O, Miami returns this April (National Poetry Month) for a new round of events and projects that attempt to deliver a poem to all 2.6 million+ residents of Miami-Dade County.
On April 1st, O, Miami kicks off the month with a poetic boat ride up the Miami River. The festival ends on April 30th with a teen poetry and music competition. In between, O, Miami celebrates contemporary poetry and transforms Greater Miami into a canvas for the literary arts, and the ideas to get poems in front of Miamians this year are more ambitious than ever.
With over 30 events and 23 projects happening in the course of 30 days, O, Miami inverts the usual festival model: instead of attempting to attract a crowd over a brief period of time, O, Miami spreads poetry all the way to the edges of Miami-Dade County for the duration of an entire month.
"Poetry is a living, breathing force that can light up the city. O, Miami is its platform. With poems on popsicles and other unexpected places, to having them come alive on the radio and stage, the festival helps art become part of people’s everyday lives," says Victoria Rogers, the incoming vice president for arts at Knight Foundation, whose mission to make art general in South Florida inspired the festival.
Since the first Festival in 2011, O, Miami has been featured in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Fast Company, the Miami Herald, on NPR's Morning Editon and more.
Here are some of things to look forward to at O, Miami 2015:
The "biggest" poetry Reading in the world
On April 12th, O, Miami once again partners with New World Symphony and the City of Miami Beach to present a radical form of a live poetry reading in Soundscape Park.Former U.S. Poet Laureate Kay Ryan and 2013 Beatrice Hawley-winner Jamaal May read live on the 7,000 square foot wall of the Symphony as part of the second annual Poetry in the Park Wallcast. From 4-7:45 p.m., enjoy free performances in the park from DJ Le SPAM, New World Symphony musicians, and MDC Live Arts, and cheap eats. At 7:45 p.m., spread out your picnic blanket and enjoy the “biggest” poetry reading in the world in state-of-the-art digital projection and high-definition sound.
On April 23-25, O, Miami presents the world premiere of a new performance by Chicago-based shadow puppetry group Manual Cinema. Based on poet Federico García Lorca’s play El Divan de Tamarit, the performance will take over an indoor/outdoor warehouse space in Miami’s Little River neighborhood, immersing visitors in a theatrical experience that employs multiple digital and analog projections, live music composed by Manual Cinema and performed by the Nu Deco Ensemble, and cocktails and food from Hot Satellite Pizza (the guys behind in Roberta’s in Brooklyn, NY).
Ode to Your Zip Code
Co-created by O, Miami and WLRN, “Ode to Your Zip Code” is a South Florida-wide poetry contest that turns the least lyrical designation of one’s home, a zip code, and turns into an occasion for poetry. Beginning March 21st, WLRN and O, Miami will accept odes to South Florida zip codes in the form of the code itself: five lines, with each line containing the number of words designated by the zip numbers. (For example, 3 words, 3 words, 1 word, 3 words, 9 words.) Every Friday beginning on April 1st, WLRN will announce the top ten poems of the week. 20 finalists will read at a special event on April 29th at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, and the winners will be determined by Presidential Inaugural poet Richard Blanco. Some contributing poets will appear on WLRN radio and WBPT2 TV. Go to WLRN.org for more info on how to enter and use the hashtag #ZipOdes on social media.
Cease & Exist
You’ve heard of “cease and desist” letters. O, Miami teams up with Miami attorney and poet Quinn Smith to create “Cease & Exist,” a project that invites the public to send “cease and exist” letters from the The Law Firm of William, Carlos & Williams to individuals living un-poetic lives. Have a spouse spending all of her time on her smart phone? Send her a Cease and Exist letter. Have a brother putting off his dream backpacking trip through Patagonia? Send him a Cease and Exist letter. Know a public official de-funding an important arts program? Send him a Cease and Exist letter.
Murinals are poems installed in perhaps the least likely place: on urinals across Miami-Dade county. Using classic gold leaf, artist Ian Thomas paints poems onto the porcelain “wall” of Miami urinals. The installations are only completed however by the participation of the “male” audience members who “defile” the hallowed words while simultaneously “exposing” themselves to the poets’ words, thereby creating a tension between dominance and vulnerability.
Around 58,000 residents of Miami-Dade County are visually impaired but only a fraction of those use Braille. “Secret Sonnets” brings the beautiful code of Braille to a larger audience by inviting poets to send original love poems to be brailled and sent to a Miami-Dade County address of their choosing. The poem being submitted should be an original body of work, less than a page long, and the intended recipient must be a resident of Miami-Dade County. From April 11-20, 2014, the poems will be transcribed into Braille and checked for errors. Beginning on April 21, 2014, the brailled poems along with a Braille/ Print alphabet card will be mailed to their intended recipients using the United States Postal Service. Included will be a link to a website with the transcribed poems. Take advantage of this rare opportunity to interact with a different literacy mode!
The only Emperor is the Emperor of ice cream, and the Emperor of poetry projects is the one that involves ice cream. Artist Randy Burman, who created last year’s iconic Department of Poetry Works streets signs, returns to O, Miami with “Poetry Pops,” a project that puts South Florida poets on ice cream wrappers. Throughout April, Poetry Pop's salesman, “Wallace Freezins” (played by local actor/comedian Randy Garcia), will appear at Miami-Dade events selling his signature poetry ice cream.
Powers to the People
World-renowned artist Steve Powers creates his first mural in Miami, a new commission from O, Miami.
The Outdoor MFA
Our audience asked for more workshops, and here they are. O, Miami presents: The Outdoor MFA, a series of four workshops that refuse to accept that sitting around a table is the only way to learn how to write. Nonfiction writer Nathan Deuel, author ofFriday Was the Bomb (Amazon Best Book of the Month), leads two “walking workshops” that lead participants through entire Miami neighborhoods; while poet Michael Hettich takes his two classes onto the water with the first-ever Kayak Poetry Workshops.
The full schedule is online at omiami.org.
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.
ABOUT KNIGHT FOUNDATION
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. O, Miami was inspired by Knight Foundation’s arts program, which aims to make art general in South Florida. For more, visit knightarts.org.