Former Poet Laureate, Rita Dove, Reads Sonata Mulattica

Categories: Books, Culture

Rita Dove
Rita Dove's Sonata Mulattica brings the whirlwind life of 18th century biracial violinist George Polgreen Bridgetower to modern audiences. Fans of her work will be able to hear Dove read from her poem at, "History's Crevices: Sonata Mulattica's Forgotten Prodigy" at the University of Miami this Thursday.

Dove, a former US Poet Laureate and the recipient of both the National Humanities Medal and the National Medal of Arts, is one of America's most prominent poets. Her wide-ranging work, marked by precise language and and complex emotions, often defies categorization. "She has...influenced the way we think about the history of American poetry by choosing the most significant poems of the last century in her Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-century American Poetry," said Mihoko Suzuki, the director of the Center for the Humanities and a professor of English.

See also: Tigertail Welcomes Andrea Assaf and George Yamazawa as Poets-in-Residence

More »

O, Miami Expands Into Publishing With Jai-Alai Books

Categories: Books

Courtesy of the Knight Foundation
P. Scott Cunningham is a familiar face on the Miami arts scene. The founder of O, Miami has done something that might seem nearly impossible: turned Miami into a poetry town. But Cunningham wants even more from the Magic City. He wants a "whole different level of engagement with literature in Miami," he says, "to make it part of our identity."

It was with that in mind that Cunningham started Jai-Alai Books, an indie press designed to capture the spirit of the city.

See also: Mandy Baca, Author of Discovering Vintage Miami, Talks About the Past

More »

MasterMind 2015 Honorable Mention: Bookleggers

Categories: Books, MasterMinds

Photo by Alex Markow
Just last week, Nathaniel Sandler moved Bookleggers' headquarters into an enormous loft space just north of downtown. Most books are still in cardboard U-Haul boxes and black plastic crates stacked on top of each other in the back of the main office space. A giant logo for Creative Lifestyle Realty, which owns the property, covers the large window in that main room, so Sandler can't even see out of it onto Biscayne Boulevard.

Sandler began Bookleggers, a type of community-minded roving library, three years ago this summer from absolutely nothing. As an idealistic, entrepreneurial enterprise, it serves as a mesh between an independent bookstore and mobile library, offering books to the community for free or cheap. Once each month, he sets up between 500 to 1,000 books in varied locations around town -- from bars and restaurants like Gramps and the Cypress Room to parks to community centers -- to unite the community in different ways through the written word.

See also: Congratulations to the Mastermind Awards 2015 Finalists

More »

Irvine Welsh Talks Living in Miami, Worrying About What He Eats, and Trainspotting Sequel

Categories: Books

Courtesy of Irvine Welsh
Ever since writing Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh has been renowned for his twisted plots and characters.The Scottish author now lives part-time in Chicago and part-time in beautiful, sunny South Beach. As a Miamian, reading his latest release, The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins, is like a perverted look at your own life. You've been to every spot and probably know someone like the psychotic main characters.

Lucy is a cruel, maniacal, food-obsessed personal trainer. Lena is an overweight, self-deprecating artist. What happens next is too insane to explain here. Welsh will have to tell you at Books & Books in Coral Gables Wednesday, February 4. In advance of the event, New Times spoke with him about his own weird food obsession.

See also: Mandy Baca, Author of Discovering Vintage Miami, Talks About the Past

More »

Tigertail Welcomes Andrea Assaf and George Yamazawa as Poets-in-Residence

Categories: Books

Courtesy of Tigertail
Tigertail Productions has made its name in South Florida as the "pioneer of innovative art," and the tradition continues with two new poetry residencies beginning in February. Poets and spoken-word artists Andrea Assaf and George Yamazawa will give Miami's youth the opportunity to learn more about themselves and the creative process through workshops, readings, performances, and open-mike nights.

Assaf and Yamazawa are accomplished artists in their own right. Assaf is the founding artistic director of Art2Action Inc. and from 2004 to 2009 was the artistic director of New World Theater. Yamazawa, also a rapper whose EP will be released this summer, is working on a college tour and is traveling to Japan to build relationships between American and Japanese artists.

Poetry became a huge part of Assaf and Yamazawa's lives early on. "I was a young actor in New York City in the '90s. I had gone to NYU for theater," Assaf says. "After I graduated, I was trying to figure out how to be a young artist in New York and finding, of course, that it's difficult to create new work and get produced when you're young and trying to find your voice creatively."

See also: Mandy Baca, Author of Discovering Vintage Miami, Talks About the Past

More »

The VONA/Voices Workshop, Founded by Junot Diaz, Relocates to Miami

Categories: Books, Culture

flickr, CC, Jennifer Yin
Inside a VONA/Voices Workshop class, circa 2008

Writers and literary minds, rejoice! Perhaps one of the most prestigious writing workshops in the country is making a move and taking up a permanent residence at the University of Miami. The Voices of our Nations Arts Foundation, better known as VONA, is relocating from the West Coast to our little southern tip.

The VONA/Voices Workshop, founded by writers Elmaz Binader, Junot Diaz, Victor Diaz, and Diem Jones in 1999, is an annual two-week program where emerging writers-of-color are taught and mentored by peers who have found success within their craft.

See also: Pepe Billete: Memories of My Abuela

More »

Entrepreneur Mike Fernandez on His First Book: "I Want To Be Remembered By What I've Given"

Categories: Books, Interview

Mike Fernandez with Earvin "Magic" Johnson.
For most of us, the concept of paying it forward began and ended with the credits of a Haley Joel Osment movie. For Miguel "Mike" Fernandez, it's a lifelong lesson.

Fernandez, who immigrated to the U.S. from Cuba at 12, started private equity firm MBF Healthcare Partners in Coral Gables in 2005, whose portfolio includes Navarro Discount Pharmacy, and a managed-care company, Simply Healthcare Plans. Simply Healthcare's ventures include a partnership with the University of Miami and Magic Johnson Enterprises to provide services to the HIV/AIDS population in South Florida. Over the years, Fernandez has given more than $125 million to causes focused on health care, education, and more.

See also: Basetrack Live to Tell Veterans' Stories on Stage

More »

Mandy Baca, Author of Discovering Vintage Miami, Talks About the Past

Categories: Books, History

Courtesy of State Archives of Florida
Vintage postcard of Biscayne Boulevard.
Kendall native Mandy Baca is an unlikely historian. Her first loves aren't the dusty archives and musty-smelling books that normally keep historians company, rather they're the aromatic spices of the kitchen.

Baca is a trained gastronome, she earned a master's degree in Italian gastronomy and tourism from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy. While that might sound almost scientific, Baca described her degree as a crash-course in "traveling, eating, [and] pretending to study." With that background, it's no surprise that Baca's first book, The Sizzling History of Miami Cuisine: Cortaditos, Stone Crabs and Empanadas, delved into the rich background of Miami's food culture.

Baca's second book, Discovering Vintage Miami, is a bit of a divergence from her foodie-focused background. The heavily-illustrated volume is a jaunty history tour through some of the Magic City's best vintage establishments. There are some familiar places in Discovering Vintage Miami, places that have endured through Miami's makeovers: Arbetter's Hot Dogs, Joe's Stone Crabs, and S & S Diner. But there are other lesser-known places that might be a discovery even for the most native of Miamians.

See also: Poet Richard Blanco Speaks About Renewing Relationships With Cuba

More »

Poet Richard Blanco Speaks About Renewing Relationships With Cuba

Categories: Books

Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Since President Obama announced that the U.S. would begin the process of normalizing relationships with Cuba, there have been many loud voices more than willing to offer opinions. But the cacophonous landscape is often more defined by extreme positions that - for the last few weeks -- have drowned out much-needed nuance. Poet Richard Blanco recently offered a much-needed nuanced response and raised some important questions about the impact of normalization outside the limited realm of politics.

The highly respected Cuban-American poet is likely best known for his reading at President Obama's second inauguration. His most recent book, the memoir The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood, reflected on issues central to Blanco's poetry: namely, how and nationality place can mold identity -- both as an artist and a gay man.

See also: Cuban Government Arrests Artist Tania Bruguera

More »

Part-Time Miamian Irvine Welsh Sneak Peeks The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins

Categories: Books

Flickr cc | Edinburgh Film Festival
Movies have been made outta his words, lots and lots of movies, each of which is mad, bad and dangerous not to know about, including The Acid House, Ecstasy, Filth, and, of course, a little torrent of beautiful depravity entitled Trainspotting. But it's the words themselves which spurred the cinema to unhinge, and compelled those who still read anything longer than a blog post to rejoice every time they join together in a book.

His name is Irvine Welsh, and the time for rejoicing is once again at hand. Or will be anyway, come February 2015, when The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins (Doubleday) racks in the States and the man makes his way back to the MIA in order to hype his latest longplay.

To ensure we're all suitably prepared to celebrate Scot wordslinger's next bit of vile wile, New Times got Welsh himself to give us a tease.

See also: Book Fair's Weird Florida Panel to Talk Mermaids, Ghost Stories, and Exotic Animals

More »