It was a kind of swank utopia: Men, women, and children were getting poetry-themed manicures, eating popsicles, and reading Jai-Alai books and zines dispensed from a coin-operated machine. Poets hopped off of bicycles and gave exuberant readings to more trumpet-playing.
Reading Queer insurgents cruised the park, propositioning people to… listen to poetry recordings using headphones.
As the sun set, the audience laid out blankets and picnicked, waiting for poetry titans (and titan-sized) Kay Ryan and Jamaal May to read to them from the wall of the New World Symphony. Just before the reading, O, Miami helped secure a prom date for a young audience member.
Jamaal May read poems from his first book, Hum, and some new poems, including “Shift”: “…there must be some kind of satisfaction / in doing a job so poorly, you’re never asked to do it again.” Kay Ryan gave a tropic-themed reading, in which we meditated upon the “Florida-like flap” of an animal-skin rug and flamingos’ “furbelows.”
As the poets read, strangers shared their food, wine and chocolates on the lawn. Listening to the poems of May and Ryan, one finds it easy to believe that, as Ryan writes, “it would be / a good trade: life / for the thing made”—unless all days were like Poetry in the Park, which was both.