17. Campbell McGrath

Categories: 100 Creatives
In honor of our Artopia party on Thursday, Cultist proudly presents "100 Creatives," where we feature Miami's cultural superheroes in random order. Have suggestions for future profiles? Email cultist@miaminewtimes.com with the whos and whys.

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17. Campbell McGrath

Winner of the Kingsley Tufts prize, a MacArthur Genius Grant, and a Guggenheim Fellowship, Campbell McGrath is in all sense of the word, a baller. He mixes metaphors the way DJs mix beats, and his ear for pop culture, the environment, and life in general makes it easy for him to describe what may otherwise go unseen.

This Chicago native made Miami his home and immersed himself in its wiles, even teaching creative writing classes to future e.e. cummings at Florida International University. McGrath once told the New Times -- he was voted our Best Local Writer in 2008, Best Bard in 2000, and had the Best Local Book in 2002 -- that he aspired to write in "a big expansive kind of lyrical prosy poetic voice talking about America." He has spent the past several years doing so, with a special focus on Miami.

In "Biscayne Boulevard," from his collection Road Atlas, he uses imagery to capture the seedy, urban underbelly of the boulevard. "Crossing the bay: pelicans and buzzards against a Japanese/screen of rifted clouds, squalls, and riffs in grey, white, azure/Gulls like asterisks, anhinga like bullets.... At 123rd St.: survival/of the fittest franchise/Boston Chicken, Pollo Tropical/Kenny Rogers Roasters/KFC/Which must perish so that another may live?/Oceans of notions/ INS/The Pussycat Theater.... Police helicopter, sweet damselfly, can you track my happiness?/Radar gun, will you enumerate my sorrows?/Bullet, do you sting?" 

Oh, Miami...you've never sounded so beautiful.

1. List five things that inspire you.

-The crazy energy of American culture
-The loopy weirdness of living in Miami
-The chewy goodness of language, savored like a licorice rope
-The brilliance of art as a human endeavor and those who have created it for us to appreciate here on planet Earth
-My wife and family

2. What was your last big project?

My most recently published book was Shannon: A Poem of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, a book-length epic of the American west.

3. What's your next big project?

I'm at work on several books of poetry, including a book about the 20th Century that will be one hundred poems in total, one for each year of the century, in voices of people like Pablo Picasso, Woody Guthrie, and Mao Zedong.

4. Why do you do what you do?

I've been doing what I do so long I no longer remember why I do it or how I got here.

5. What's something you want Miami to know about you?

I want Miami to know about the new Knight Fellows in the Creative Writing Program at FIU.

What's something you don't want Miami to know about you?

I don't want Miami to know that I am a big fan of Michael Irvin's sports talk radio show.

The Creatives so far:

18. Frances Trombly
19. Jose Mertz
20. Emma Trelles
21. Pablo Cano
22. Natasha Tsakos
23. Freegums

24. Aurora Natrix
25. Gean Moreno
26. Yaddyra Peralta
27. Barron Sherer

28. Brigid Baker
29. Daniel Fila
30. McLaine Oberhellmann
31. Fro Rojas
32. Annie Hollingsworth
33. Preston Allen
34. Cristina Molina
35. David Josef Tamargo
36. Jillian Mayer

37. Alfonso Vega
38. Natasha Lopez de Victoria
39. Aholsniffsglue

40. Heather Maloney
41. Jorge Rubiera
42. Elaine Lancaster
43. Nick Duckart
44. Danielle Estefan
45. John Dufresne
46. Monica Lopez de Victoria
47. Bill Bilowit
48. Alette Simmons-Jimenez
49. Tawnie Silva
50. Ginger Bardot
51. Jonathan David Kane
52. Naomi Fisher
53. Rocky Grimes
54. Teresa Barcelo
55. Paul Tei
56. Lee Materazzi
57. Karla Garcia
58. Anna Mixon
59. Octavio Campos
60. P. Scott Cunningham
61. Elena Garcia
62. Summer Hill
63. Autumn Casey
64. Juan Navarro
65. Serge Toussaint
66. David Rohn
67. Diane Brache
68. Spencer Morin
69. James Anthony
70. Jim Drain
71. Claudia Calle
72. Kevin Arrow

73. Andrew Hevia
74. Ana Mendez
75. Michael McKeever
76. Diana Lozano
77. Ricardo Pau-Llosa
78. Agustina Woodgate
79. Tarell Alvin McCraney
80. Jennifer Kronenberg
81. Farley Aguilar
82. Colin Foord
83. Karelle Levy
84. Matt Gajewski
85. Antonia Wright
86. Allen Charles Klein
87. Christy Gast
88. Gustavo Matamoros
89. Shareen Rubiera-Sarwar

90. Kyle Trowbridge
91. Clifton Childree
92. Jessica Gross
93. Danny Brito
94. Nektar de Stagni
95. Anthony Spinello
96. Vanessa Garcia
97. Justin Long
98. Rosie Herrera
99. Rick Falcon

100. Ingrid B
 

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