Richard Blanco, Thurston Moore, and O, Miami Prove Miami Is a Family (Or at Least a Gang)
Inaugural poet Richard Blanco got the crowd's eyes all damp with his descriptions of a childhood family visit to Marco Island. Thurston Moore dedicated his poems -- the ones through which he dragged us, limp with love and starstruck -- to the lady who gave birth to him, his mom, who was in the audience. Parks and Recreation staff writer Megan Amram read some intricate verses about her twin brother, born just minutes before she was herself hatched.
It seemed from the readings that O, Miami's finale last night at the New World Symphony focused on two things: family and Miami. The dedications made this big city feel small and tight, like we all understand each other, like we all have the same tattoos, eat the same food, share the same cousins.
The very short Julian Yuri Rodriguez film that screened told a complete visual and emotional tale, in what felt like seconds, of a what-might-actually-be gang, inspired by Gwendolyn Brooks' "We Real Cool." We, (real cool) Miami, are a gang. Hating, loving, protecting, daring, and growing together. A community, a family. And, in a romantic way, O, Miami has proven to be a month-long poem, with events as the words, dedicated to this weird, hot place.
P. Scott Cunningham, the brains and brawn behind the festival, admitted in his introduction, that he's learned a few things about what people want from poetry. Before a miscalculated first day, when he set up typewriters at El Palacio de los Jugos, he said he thought anyone who can write could write a poem. But he found out that day, after meeting an illiterate poet in West Miami, that anyone that can talk can create a poem. And with the inclusion of so many different kinds of writers last night, as opposed to the first year's James Franco event, it's clear he's closer to diversifying the message.
The room wasn't full. Maybe in the learning, there was an audience lost. But either way, the experience was nearly balanced. It had the Borscht crew bringing video, a hip-hop spoken word element, kids reading poems, visiting poets, rock stars, and a seasoned native wordsmith who just happened to write a poem for Barack Obama that was heard by the whole world.
The night started with a reading by Marcos Fuentes, a pre-teen in a vest and red Ray Bans folded over the cuff of his shirt. Then the whistle of Scorpions' "Wind of Change" took over the room and shot us back to 1991, complete with the embarrassment we felt hearing this song on the radio every day in elementary school, combined with the impulse to whistle along. Suddenly, artist Agustina Woodgate was on the screen, talking about dying, or maybe about how she wasn't going to die, ever. The film, created by Lucas Leyva and Jillian Mayer, questioned about a half dozen people -- including Colin Foord of Coral Morphologic; Debroah Scholl, the wife of Dennis, who doles out the Knight Foundation funds that created the festival; artist Adler Guerrier; the ever adorable Liz Ferrer -- on the subject of their own demise.
Comedian Jessica Gross said she wanted to be burned in a pretty dress. Director Julian Yuri Rodriguez said an ex-girlfriend would likely off him. It was whimsical, humorous, and personal, but not overwhelmingly intimate.