O, Miami2015 Edition

O, Miami Poetry Festival: A Look At This Year's Projects

Scott Cunningham, Founder

O, Miami Poetry Festival takes over the Magic City for the entire month of April, with poetry popping up literally everywhere! Using all sorts of mediums and unconventional methods, their intention is to present each and every single person in Miami with a poem.  

Earlier this week O, Miami announced this year’s projects and events. Here’s what’s been posted so far:



Arts for Learning (A4L) proposes to bring poetry to students in Coconut Grove in honor of the O, Miami Festival during the month of April 2015. Teen poets working with Teaching Artist Neil de la Flor in A4L’s ArtWorks Internship program will bring their work to elementary students near the ArtWorks home base of the Lewis Arts Studio (101 Grand Avenue).

A4L’s ArtWorks interns will create original poems that they will share with the students in the form of printed postcards. Neil and the Interns will then lead the Grove students through the creation of an exquisite corpse poem. Students will break into small groups assigned to an Intern and work as a team to write their own poem using the exquisite corpse model and then share their completed work with the group at large.

Visit a4lmiami.org for updates and more details. Created by Betsy Mullins and Neil De la Flor.

 Cease & Exist

So-called “Cease and Desist” letters are sent by lawyers to people in order to stop them from pursuing a particular action (“cease”) and to warn them of the potential consequences of continuing that action (“desist”). O, Miami partnered with attorney/poet Quinn Smith to create “Cease and Exist,” a project that sends “cease and exist” letters from the The Law Firm of William, Carlos & Williams to various individuals in order to curb behavior that could potentially lead to poetic unproductivity and/or an unfulfilling existence.

The public may also submit ideas for Cease and Exist letters to be mailed during April 2015. Do you know a co-worker putting in too much overtime and reading too little Wallace Stevens? Send her a Cease and Exist letter. Is your brother putting off that backpacking trip through Patagonia? Send him a Cease and Exist letter. Know a public official de-fundingan important arts program? Send him a Cease and Exist letter. How? Fill out this form and pay a small $5 donation to O, Miami for shipping and handling.

O, Miami will also choose select letters (redacted of personal information) to post online @ omiami.org. Created by O, Miami and Quinn Smith.

 Message In A Bottle

To explore the emotional effects of migration, Message In A Bottle invites participants to share their insights within the intimacy of one of Leandro Vazquez’s geodesic domes made of recycled plastic bottles. This project will be installed in public places in order to initiate intimate conversations with a variety of Miamians and explore how each of us views change.

Leandro Vazquez’s work explores how to change the way we look at building materials such as plastic bottles in an effort to better standards of living, while Jayme Gershen’s work explores ways to change stigmas surrounding those who migrate. The conversations within the dome will explore the emotional impact of changing one’s place, something many Miamians, and many Americans have inevitably faced.

The conversations will be recorded to create a dynamic sound piece, which will be used in conjunction with Gershen’s current multimedia work exploring immigrant identity in South Florida. Created by Jayme Gershen.


Murinals are poetry murals installed on Miami-Dade urinals by artist Ian Thomas. Using classic gold leaf paint on porcelain, Thomas creates a series of site-specific installations that require viewer participation to complete its concept. The exclusively male audience is invited to urinate on a passage of poetry consecrated via traditional illumination methods.

By participating in this way, the viewer exhibits an animalistic dominance by defiling something hallowed, while ultimately exposing himself to the poets’ words. This tension of male dominance and vulnerability is what the series seeks to explore. Created by Ian Thomas.


An Instagram project in which artist Kevin Arrow takes pictures during April of his hand holding various poetry books. On a fully digital format, Arrow’s project brings attention back to physical objects and the world that contains them. Created by Kevin Arrow.

 O, My Animals

“I started Early—and took my Dog—” Emily Dickinson

The goal of O, My Animals is to enlist dogs, our well-loved companions, as purveyors of poetry. At several events and venues during the month of April, including “Poetry in the Park” and “Dogleggers Mobile Library,” O, Miamians will be handing out Poetry Dog Scarves for dogs of all sizes. The bandanas, each of which carries a dog-friendly line of poetry by EmilyDickinsin, will also be distributed to participating dog grooming businesses in Miami.

All Poetry Dog Scarves are free, but we suggest you deepen your interaction with the project by donating to a dog rescue shelter that also trains service dogs for Veterans. Start Early. Bring Your Dog. Celebrate Poetry! Created by Melanie Almeder.

 O,ral Records

O,ral Records is a new project that pays homage to the history of oral tradition. The idea is simple: through March, stories will be collected from Miami public transit riders and employees about the interesting things that happen (and have happened) while riding the bus, mover, trolley, train and jitney systems. A selection of the submitted stories will be handed over to musicians, poets, theater groups, and dancers, who will use the story material as inspiration for new creative works.

If your story is chosen, you will have the opportunity to meet and work directly with a chosen artist on the interpretation of your story. The new works will be recorded and distributed online and featured in a live performance on April 26th at the YoungArts campus. These stories will live on as part of Miami’s modern-day oral history. Created by Buskerfest.


 Plays on Verse

MicroTheater is a theatrical convention consisting of works of less than 15 minutes in length for a maximum of 15 spectators presented in a 20 foot shipping container. Each container represents one theater company. Each work is presented six times, each night in continuous session. For this season of Microtheater, Centro Cultural Español partnered with O, Miami to commission “Plays

For this season of Microtheater, Centro Cultural Español partnered with O, Miami to commission “Plays on Verse.” Visit Microtheater in April on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday to see the plays. More information: microtheatermiami.com.


The most famous and sought-after writing residency in the world returns this April, as O, Miami once again teams up with Gramps Bar in Wynwood to offer “Poet-in-Decadence.” Each Poet-in-Decadenceresidency is one night only. The poet is given the last seat at the bar at Gramps, and for every poem/he writes on a cocktail napkin and hands to the bartender, the poet receives one beer.

Each poet is limited to one residency per April. Poets must be 21 years old and be able to show proper I.D. the night of the residency. All poets, by signing up, also agree to take public transit or arrange a designated driver, cab or car service. Created by O, Miami & Gramps Bar

 Poetry Parcels

Coinciding with the Australian cosmetic company’s Miami arrival, Aesop and O, Miami present ‘Poetry Parcels’. Each limited edition bag is designed with an exterior poem and an interior audio recording by one of three poets: Kay Ryan, Richard Blanco, or Denise Duhamel.

The Poetry Parcels are distributed in-store to Miami customers only during the month of April 2015, in order to celebrate O, Miami’s mission of reaching everyone in Greater Miami with a poem. Accompanying the distribution of the gift bags, Aesop will host an O, Miami closing reception at their Wynwood location on April 30th. Created by Aesop.

 Poetry Parlor

The Poetry Parlor project sneaks poetry into tabloid magazines found at beauty parlors during the month of April 2015. Specially-made inserts with different poems are “lost” in the pages of magazines in ten beauty parlors in the areas of Key Biscayne, Coconut Grove and Little Haiti. Who will find them? Will they read them? Poetry Parlor features contemporary poems in Spanish, English, and Creole curated by project creator, Ana Maria Caballero.

 Secret Sonnets

It is estimated there are 58,000 residents of Miami-Dade County who are visually impaired, but only a fraction of those use braille. Braille readers are often marginalized due to the lack of accessible materials available to them. “Secret Sonnets” brings attention to a beautiful and important code that allows the visually impaired to read.

From March 16 to April 10, send a short poem and the Miami-Dade mailing address of its intended recipient to Secret Sonnets and they will translate the poem into braille and send it to that address, along with an alphabet card that will explain the project and how to read the poem. The poem being submitted should be an original body of work, fourteen lines or less, and the intended recipient must be a resident of Miami-Dade County.

From April 11-20, 2015, the poems will be transcribed into Braille and checked for errors; beginning on April 21, 2015, the brailled poems along with the alphabet card will be mailed to their intended recipients using the United States Postal Service. Included will be a link to a website with the transcribed poems.

*Submissions open March 16, 2015

 Soapbox Poetry

The Writer’s Room at The Betsy invites poets to participate in the 2015 Soapbox Poetry Program. Each weekday, two invited poets will gather on the veranda at The Betsy at 5pm to read two poems: one of their own and one written by someone they admire.

At the end of the month, all participants are invited to read again during a culminating reading in The Betsy Alley Way at 14th Court, between Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue. Created by The Writer’s Room at The Betsy-South Beach



In celebration of National Poetry Month, O, Miami and Miami-based startupSktchy invite artists around the world to infuse poetry into their artwork for a project called #WAXpoetic. To participate, get the free Sktchy iPhone app and submit an artwork that incorporates poetry in any way from April 9 to April 12. Your artwork can take almost any visual form: a drawing, a painting, even a sculpture. Just make sure to include the hashtag #WAXpoetic.Sktchy and O, Miami will be featuring select #WAXpoetic submissions throughout the weekend. You can learn more about Sktchy’s ongoing Weekend Art Extravaganza (WAX) project on the Sktchy blog.


 Orchard Villa Elementary School

Poet Laurel Nakanishi leads an eight-session poetry workshop with students from Liberty City’s Orchard Villa Elementary School.

The workshop culminates in a showcase of student work on April 22nd at 2 p.m. Workshop dates: March 30th and 31st; April 6th and 8th; April 13th and 15th; April 20th and 22nd. Created by Laural Nakanishi.

 The Outdoor MFA

Writers Nathan Deuel and Michael Hettich take the traditional writing workshop outdoors. Deuel will lead participants in two experimental “walking workshops” that traverse different neighborhoods in Miami, while Hettich heads out onto the water with two workshops conducted by kayak. All workshops are one session only. Take one or all. Created by O, Miami, with Nathan Deuel and Michael Hettich.



Join award-winning poet Michael Hettich for a kayak trip and poetry workshop out on Biscayne Bay.

There are two different dates, April 9th at 4:30 p.m., leaving from Miami Beach, and April 11th at 9:30 a.m., leaving from Morningside Park.



1514944_880444622014288_5351411615635945716_nMiami-born nonfiction writer Nathan Deuel, author of Amazon Book of the Month Friday Was the Bomb (Dzanc, 2014), leads an unusual outdoor workshop.

Follow Deuel on a Walking Workshop through an entire Miami neighborhood, learning how to see and how to record what you see.

There are two dates: April 25th and 26th in Miami Beach and Kendall, respectively.



This two-hour writing workshop is organized around the communicative act of texting. We will use this collaborative, compact and spontaneous form of communication to create “text poetry” of our own.

Participant pairs will text lines back and forth, creating a collaborative poem of questions and responses, using selections of contemporary poems from Jim Moore, Louise Gluck and Pablo Neruda to focus on the use of questioning as a device in poetry. Maximum 20 participants.



O, Miami is planning over 30 events in 30 days, so we’re only going to list a few faves. [Full List]

   Miami River Cruise

   Poetry Pirates

   Jai-Alai Magazine Release

   Miami Zine Fair

   Miami, 1981

   Poetry In The Park

   The Acoustic Bicycle Tour

   Paella Poetry

   Dos Poetas Cubanas

downloadO, Miami Poetry Festival April 1-April 30, 2015 

O, Miami’s primary objective has been introducing poetry to new audiences. For more information, visit: omiami.org. Follow:  Facebook  Twitter   Instagram