While attendees to Poetry in the Park relaxed and waited for the main event to start, they were treated to a taste of one of O, Miami’s more vocal projects for poetry outreach, Poetry Protests. Coordinated by artist/activist Marc Saviano, the demonstration, set up on the eastbound side of 17th Street next to Soundscape Park, was a more in-your-face way of getting the word out to South Beach’s commuter and foot traffic about the need to support poetry, art and the people who create it, in our community.
The “protestors,” a jovial bunch happy to lend their time, arms and voices, carried signs with luric fragments like “Every day is an existential crisis. / Waves of panic. / Oof.” A few cars honked in agreement while they chanted, “What do we want? Poetry! When do we want it? Now!”
“It’s a mixture of performance art and activism, which is something I do regularly anyway,” Saviano said as he lowered his megaphone for a moment to chat. “It was kind of a neat idea that popped into my head as a unique way to present poetry on the streets. It’s a way to present poetry that’s out of the norm, to take people out of their routine maybe, and have them engage with it in a way that shakes it up a little bit, in a subversive way but not really.”
A friend of Saviano’s had participated in O, Miami events before, and suggested that he submit some ideas for this year’s festival. “She knew I had weird ideas, so I submitted a few, and O, Miami selected this one, and we followed up on it.” After poets were called to cull the verses, O, volunteers helped create the signs and joined the protests. You can expect demonstrations at various locations and times throughout the month.
Alexandra Golik and Carolina Dominguez, two of the volunteer protesters, were happy to help the cause, and each other. “Carolina is my best friend, and she works for O, Miami,” Golick said in response to why she joined the protest.
“Yes, I am interning for O, Miami, and was setting up things for Poetry in the Park,” Dominguez chimed in. “I didn’t know the Poetry Protesters were also coming. So when I heard the megaphone and came over to see what it was about, I decided to pick up a sign and help them out.”
For both young women, it was a fun, different and effective way to shine a spotlight on the call for more poetic access in our community. Golick added, “Whenever there’s a protest going on, you can’t help but want to see what it’s about, so I think this is a nice, fun way to bring attention to the need for more poetry, and more appreciation for the poetry that there is.”
“Absolutely,” Dominguez added. ”It gets them to become a part of the poetry, lure them in, get their minds going and have them see what’s going on.”
I left them to keep on fighting the good fight, as more cars honked in agreement to Saviano’s megaphoned voice announcing, “All the world’s a stage, and platform for poetry.”
Clidiane Aubourg is a writer living in Miami, Fl. She will be contributing blog posts for O, Miami Poetry Festival 2016.