O, Miami Aims to Inspire Verse, From Symphonies to Barstools
Travel across the Magic City from Little Havana to Lemon City, Hialeah to Homestead, or South Beach to Surfside and you'll be serenaded by a sonorous canto of contrasting voices.
Courtesy of O, Miami Poetry Festival/Gesi Schilling Ivan Lopez channels José Martí.
For interdisciplinary artists Juana Meneses and Leila Leder Kremer, that multicultural heart is the inspiration for "Home: Beyond Geography," their new conceptual project. The pair will crisscross the county this month armed with pens and postcards to capture local residents' personal stories.
"We want people from different neighborhoods to share their impressions, stories, and memories," explains the 35-year-old Meneses, who moved to Miami from Bogota in the late '80s. "Many people who live here came from other places, and this is a way for them to relate their experiences of our city in an index that is highly personal while remaining open-ended."
Their project is just one of a score of events in the monthlong O, Miami Poetry Festival. Through innovative, inspiring, and off-the-wall ideas like the postcard project, the festival's organizers hope to inspire our metropolis' 2.6 million residents to experience the joy of poetry during the citywide celebration of verse.
"Miami is full of really great artists who are helping our mission to deliver poetry to each and every person in the county in a creative fashion," says P. Scott Cunningham, a poet and founder and director of the festival. "The idea was to collaborate with artists who have developed projects incorporating poetry and appeals to broader audiences in a way that's interesting."
Cunningham, who started O, Miami in 2011, has enjoyed success by saturating South Florida with poetry through any means possible. In past years, he's had airplanes drag banners through the sky inscribed with poems and had another artist "poetry bomb" thrift store garments with tags emblazoned with verse sewn into the T-shirts and pants on the sly.
This year's lineup is O, Miami's most expansive yet and boasts an arsenal of unexpected moments beyond traditional readings and lectures.
The festival's main event takes place Saturday at SoundScape Park in South Beach, where O, Miami is partnering with New World Symphony. Former U.S. Poets Laureate Robert Hass and Kay Ryan will join National Book Award-winner Nikki Finney for an intimate reading. From 5 to 8 p.m., visitors can lounge on blankets and watch a live projection on the 7,000-square-foot symphony wall while enjoying free music and entertainment during what Cunningham calls South Florida's biggest poetry reading ever.