Author Julia Cooke on Life in Cuba: "I Miss How Important Every Moment Was"

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Courtesy of Julia Cooke
Much of the American perspective regarding Cuba remains dated, rooted in the same political milestones taught in high school history classes. Words like "restriction," "trade," and "government" often dominate the dialogue despite the changes taking hold of the island. Author Julia Cooke hopes to shift the conversation, from Cuba's politics to its people. Her new book, The Other Side of Paradise: Life in the New Cuba, chronicles the years she spent living in Havana and the ongoing societal shift she observed.

International journalist and Portland-native Cooke first traveled to Cuba as a college student in 2003. During her studies, she fell in love with the people of Havana, whose exuberance for life and diverse stories took her aback.

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Knights Arts Challenge Finalist O, Miami Hopes to Expand Publishing House

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P. Scott Cunningham
O, Miami is no stranger to the Knights Arts Challenge. In 2011, the non-profit organization was awarded funding to bring a month-long poetry festival to the Greater Miami area, and used unusual methods to ensure people encountered prose every day in April, from odes on public buses to artist Agustina Woodgate's "poetry bombs" sewn into thrift shop clothing tags. Now, as a 2014 finalist, O, Miami seeks funding to bring all the literary elements together in its own publishing house, Jai-Alai Books.

"We've been working on an idea for a press basically as long as O, Miami has existed, and before, when we were University of Wynwood exclusively," said founder and director P. Scott Cunningham via email. "It was always something I've personally wanted to do, and it finally felt like the right time to do it."

According to Cunningham, Miami is long overdue for a literary press. O, Miami's publishing house hopes to produce great books that are accessible to a general audience and that speak to Miami.

See also: Knight Arts Challenge South Florida 2014 Finalists Announced

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Drive-In Entrepreneur Josh Frank Wrote a Book About Porn with Pixies' Frontman Black Francis

Categories: Books, Literary

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Writer, director, and owner of Blue Starlite Drive-In Josh Frank.
Thank the gods for people like Josh Frank. Blue Starlite drive-in owner is one of those creative types constantly making cool shit for us schlubby consumers to sit back and enjoy.

Writer, director, and producer, Frank is the author of Fool the World: The Oral History of a Band Called Pixies and In Heaven Everything Is Fine: The Unsolved Life of Peter Ivers. Additionally, Frank recently made his directorial debut for the Pixies' music video "Greens and Blues," released March 4. Frank's latest publication, The Good Inn, is a book and screenplay adaptation written in collaboration with Pixies' founder and frontman, Black Francis.

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Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Genius and Castro Buddy, Dead at 87

Categories: Literary, News

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Wikimedia Commons
The author in 2009.
The greatest South American writer, the man who popularized magic realism and turned journalism into dream-like fiction, is dead.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez was 87 years old. He wrote perhaps the greatest novel of our time, 100 Years of Solitude, and rivaled the Spanish language greats from Cervantes to Borges in his use of language, metaphor, and plot.

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Enter the O, Miami Basketball Tournament and Win Street Cred

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What do the Big Three and O, Miami have in common? Their love of dominant basketball.

Miami's literary and athletic worlds are headed for a collision course next Easter Sunday. Do your free throw reps, get that jumper wet, and prepare to have some good time on the hardwood. On April 20, the gauntlet will be thrown.

See also: Young Voices Will Rise During the O, Miami SPEAKtacular

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Young Voices Will Rise During the O, Miami SPEAKtacular

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SPEAK! members (left to right) Hadja, Peter, and Amorette.
Poetry is getting a multi-sensory injection of music, dance, and raw power thanks to SPEAKtacular, an O, Miami event produced by the the Jason Taylor Foundation. The event highlights South Florida's burgeoning poetic talent by featuring the Omari Hardwick bluapple Poetry Network's SPEAK! Collective, a group of extremely talented and artistically brave high school students.

Darius Daughtry, the director of poetry programs for the Omari Hardwick bluapple Poetry Network, is one the of minds behind the innovative event. He, along with FIU MFA candidate Ashley Jones and P. Scott Cunningham, the co-founder and director of O, Miami, worked together to make this event a reality.

See also: Five Fun, Easy Ways to Get Involved in O, Miami

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The Writer's Institute Gives Miami Writers College-Level Courses for Cheap

Categories: Literary

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Where can you meet writing greats like Richard Blanco, Amy Stewart, and high-powered literary agents all in one place? If you think you need to be a part of an exclusive organization or an accredited university, think again. All you need to do is attend the Writer's Institute, coming this May.

This is the ninth year of the Writer's Institute, and this year promises to be just as inspiring and educational as years prior. Lissette Mendez, program director at the Center for Literature and Theatre at Miami Dade College, said the Writer's Institute began close to when the center got started. Mendez was one of the people behind the original grant to form the center, and the idea behind it was "to promote reading and writing and to create [programs] that emphasize reading and writing."

One such program is the Writer's Institute, which brings some of the biggest names in the country to Miami to teach and support the city's expansive creative community. The best part is that you don't have to be a college student to gain access to this opportunity. All you have to do is sign up.

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Five Fun, Easy Ways to Get Involved in O, Miami

Categories: Literary

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O, Miami/Gesi Schilling
In a city that's less than literary, O, Miami, is a beacon of eloquent verse, scriberly (did we just invent a word?) skill and the power of prose. This ode to all things poetic is back for its third incarnation, and like a good canto, it gets more epic with time.

For its 2014 run, the poetic party is offering an overwhelming array of events. There's everything from a parade, to a poetry wallcast, to a pool party. But let's be real, no matter how ardent your love for poetry, there's no way you can get in on it all. So if you're pressed for time, here are five fun and easy ways to get involved.

See also: O, Miami: A Month of Verse In Our Paradise of the Perverse

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O, Miami Aims to Inspire Verse, From Symphonies to Barstools

Categories: Literary

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Courtesy of O, Miami Poetry Festival/Gesi Schilling
Ivan Lopez channels José Martí.
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.

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."

See also: O, Miami: A Month of Verse In Our Paradise of the Perverse

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Send in Your Miami Stories for the Big Read Tumblr Project

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Courtesy of MDC
When it comes to bibliophilia, these aren't the glory days of Reading Rainbow (we miss you, Levar!). With attention spans shortening, libraries closing, and book publishers going broke, any chance to promote tomes lengthier than 140 characters is a step in the right direction.

Enter the Big Read, a National Endowment of the Arts program to promote reading and literature. The Center for Literature and Theater at Miami Dade College is getting in on the fun with a whole host of events inspired by the book The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. Think flash mobs, Indian film screenings, and best of all, a Miami Stories Tumblr open to submissions from everyone.

See also: MDC Confucius Institute and MIFF Bring Chinese Cinema, Film Students Face Off For Place In Shanghai Film Festival

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