The Poetry Nerd’sGuide to Miami Book Fair 2015

By O, Miami Staff Members Michael Martin, J.V. Portela, and P. Scott Cunningham

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As Previously Published by O, Miami


David Tomas Martinez

The cover of Martinez’s Hustle (Sarabande) is one of our most recent favorites. It sports a gorgeous tattoo-script for the title, which gives you a real sense of the kinds of poems inside-–energetic and rhythmic bursts about coming up in hard-knock Southern California.


Gary Snyder

Somehow the organizers at Miami Book Fair managed to stir Gary Snyder––one of the greatest American poets of the last century––from deep meditation atop a mountain in California and convinced him to visit Miami to present The Present Moment: New Poems (Counterpoint). You know that night Allen Ginsberg read “Howl” for the first time? Snyder was the other poet on the bill. So you could ask him about that.


Amber Tamblyn

She’s married to David Cross, which make us jealous. Her book Dark Sparkler (Harper Collins) is a collection of poems about the lives and deaths of child star actresses.

  • New Poems: A Reading, Saturday, November 21, 12 pm, Centre Gallery (Building 1, 3rd Floor, Room 1365); Free

Albert Goldbarth

If you want to learn about obscure science while laughing, then the poetry of Albert Goldbarth is for you. He has won just about every poetry award out there, but his most impressive is the Mark Twain Poetry Award for humor in poetry. Since he is known to spend most of his time with his famous collection of turn-of-the-century space toys, we are lucky to have him in Miami to read from Selfish: Poems (Graywolf).

Mark Doty

It would exceed the the word-count limit of this platform to describe how important a figure Mark Doty is to contemporary American poetry. His most notable collections are known for being the smartest and most elegant poems about the AIDS epidemic ever written. His new book, Deep Lane: Poems is just out from Norton.

  • Four Poets: A Reading, Saturday, November 21, 1 pm, Centre Gallery (Building 1, 3rd Floor, Room 1365); Free

Yusef Komunyakaa

Widely known for poems about the Vietnam War and the Southern Black experience, Yusef Komunyakaa is one of the best poets alive. That’s a fact that you can Google. Don’t want to miss this chance to hear him read from The Emperor of Water Clocks (FSG).

  • Four Poets: A Reading, Saturday, November 21, 1 pm, Centre Gallery (Building 1, 3rd Floor, Room 1365); Free

Jane Hirshfield

A modern day zen master, Jane Hirshfield’s latest collection is appropriately titled, The Beauty: Poems. Hirshfield reads slowly and intensely, word by word, about the crisis of human beings in nature. (This reading also includes Tom Sleigh!)

Contemporary Publishing: Literary Magazines and Small Presses

Ok, so this isn’t poetry exactly but yer boy P. Scott Cunningham is talking about keeping the indie literature fire alive with three great editors: John Gosslee of Fjords Review; Ralph Hamilton of RHINO; and hometown hero Miguel Pichardo of Gulf Stream.

Contemporary Publishing: Literary Magazines and Small Presses, Saturday, November 21, 2:30 p.m., Room 8308 (Building 8, 3rd Floor)

Malachi Black

With Storm Toward Morning (Copper Canyon), Black places himself squarely in the tradition of English devotional poetry. You may remember him from O, Miami 2012 or 2014. In the latter year, he read as part of New World Symphony’s annual “New Work” concert. After that reading, Malachi and NWS Director Michael Tilson Thomas (who is, by the way, the most well-read human alive) got into a discussion about Proust on a dock, and it was magical to witness.

Julie Marie Wade

The last name “Wade” carries a lot of water in this town. Julie can’t dunk, but she can write well in every single genre, and she teaches in the FIU Creative Writing Program that birthed O, Miami. Hometown pride!

Caki Wilkinson

Wilkinson has metrical chops the likes of which haven’t been seen ‘round these parts since Donald Justice was sitting on a porch in Coconut Grove. If you like your poems to have formal structures or you like them to rhyme in surprising and modern ways, you need to go see Caki Wilkinson.

  • New Poems: A Reading, Saturday, November 21, 5 pm, Centre Gallery (Building 1, 3rd Floor, Room 1365); Free

Reginald Dwayne Betts

Betts tore the roof off of The Betsy-South Beach in 2012 when he was in residence there for O, Miami. His new collection, Bastards of the Reagan Era (Four Way Books), just got a glowing review in The New York Times. There’s a nasty rumor going around that he might not be able to make it down to Miami, so double-check your online schedules.

Francisco Larios

A central figure in Miami’s Spanish-speaking poetry circles, Francisco Larios is an unstoppable force. He’s equal parts poet, translator, and cultural programmer—an ideal combination, if you ask us. His stellar translations of North American poets, published regularly in Círculo de Poesía, are expanding the reach of North American letters beyond our national borders. His own poetry is a reflection of this drive to bridge linguistic and cultural divides.

  • New Poems: A Reading, Saturday, November 21, 5 pm, Centre Gallery (Building 1, 3rd Floor, Room 1365); Free


Denise Duhamel / Maureen Seaton

Denise Duhamel is a mentor to many emerging poets from Miami and beyond, as well as the staff at O, Miami. Her original but downright American voice continues to refine itself with every book. She’ll be reading from Caprice: Collected, Uncollected, and New (Sibling Rivalry Press), a book of collaborations with another of our favorite Miami poets, Maureen Seaton. (Denise and Maureen, if you’re reading this, we love you.)

Nick Flynn

Flynn’s memoir Another Bullshit Night in Suck City was the inspiration for the film Being Flynn, starring Robert DeNiro, Paul Dano, and Julianne Moore. Flynn is first a poet known for brutally honest lyrics that are so popular his books have been translated into fourteen languages. We expect no less from My Feelings: Poems (Graywolf).

Poems: Reading from New Books, Sunday, November 22, 10 am, Centre Gallery (Building 1, 3rd Floor, Room 1365); Free

Ed Skoog

Weirdly enough, Skoog and poet Kevin Young grew up together in Kansas. If you were creating the poetry version of NBA Jams, that would be a killer duo. Skoog can recite long passages of The Canterbury Tales by heart, and in the correct accent. He writes about rock n’ roll and loneliness, among other subjects.

Carl Phillips

Car Phillips’ distinct voice exerts a strong influence on young poets today, and as editor of the Yale Series for Younger Poets, he selects the books of tomorrow. Michael says that Phillips “has single-handedly revived the lyric for an entire generation.” Scott’s not sure the lyric ever died, but okay. Phillips’ latest book is Reconnaissance: Poems (FSG).

Erin Belieu

When O, Miami invited Erin Belieu down to Miami in 2013, she made our hearts hurt with poems that address difficult issues about love, feminism, and history with a unique combination of colloquial language and conventional poetic techniques. She is the co-director of VIDA: Women in the Literary Arts, an organization that has made great strides in balancing the scales of gender in the publishing industry.Slant Six (Copper Canyon) is her latest collection.

Kevin Young

Young is one of the foremost anthologists in poetry, the curator of the Danowski Poetry Library at Emory (the goal of which is to collect every single book of poetry published in the U.S.), and an original member of the Dark Room Collective, a legendary group of now-major poets like Thomas Sayers Ellis, Natasha Tretheway, Sharon Strange, John Keene, and Cornelius Eady. So it’s easy to forget that he’s also one of the best damn poets alive, and definitely one of the most listenable.

Major Jackson

Everyone always asks Major to read that barbershop poem, which is a great poem but doesn’t really reflect the scope of what he’s up to these days: namely, writing some of the most dynamic formal poems of any American poet. His new collection, Roll Deep: Poems (Norton), displays his incredible technical and emotional range.

  • New Poems: A Reading, Sunday, November 22, 2 pm, Centre Gallery (Building 1, 3rd Floor, Room 1365); Free

Gerald Stern

True story: Gerald Stern once tied Scott’s cravat for him at the Palm Beach Poetry Festival. Why was he wearing a cravat? No one knows. Stern has been writing tough, honest poems ever since he went to Paris with his friend Jack Gilbert in the 50s. At this event, he’s talking with FIU prof Dr. Asher Milbauer about the poet Hyam Plutzik’s posthumously published letter on the life of a young poet, recently published by Books & Books Press.

Kay Ryan

We’re still reeling from her Poetry in the Park Wall-cast reading for O, Miami 2015. Now she’s back to read from another collection of instant classics, Erratic Facts (Grove Press). No one else writes the kind of action- and rhyme-packed short poems that Ryan does; each one feels carved out of marble. Her between-poem banter is hands-down the best in the game.

Juan Felipe Herrera

In just a few months, Juan Felipe Herrera has proven himself as one of the most spirited U.S. Poet Laureates to ever take the post. Not only is Herrera a quintessentially American poet, whose poems channel Whitman through Chicano experience, his commitment to community has made him O, Miami’s latest inspiration. Just recently he launched La Casa de Colores, a project inviting citizens to contribute to an epic poem.


Carlos Pintado

A central figure in Miami’s Spanish-speaking poetry circles, this angel-headed Cuban poet has broken out in English this year, and to wide acclaim. He’ll be reading from his most recent book of poems, Nueve Monedas / Nine Coins (Akashic), which earlier this year won the first Paz Prize for Poetry awarded by the MDC Center for Writing and Literature.

Valeria Luiselli

If you like Roberto Bolaño, Luiselli should be your new obsession. She writes the kind of lyrical fiction that only poetry-lovers can write, and her essays are even better, that is, if reading about someone trying to find Joseph Brodsky’s grave is your kind of thing. (Full disclosure: it is our kind of thing.) Listen to this interview with Michael Silverblatt on KCRW’s Bookworm if you want get a taste of her voice.

Ramón Fernández Larrea

A poet and a comedian in one. No joke! He’s worked on various radio and TV projects including Alexis Valdés’ Esta Noche Tu Night, the late-night TV obsession of Miami’s Cuban-American audiences. He’s presenting his latest book of poetry this year, which has already earned him the prestigious Gastón Baquero International Poetry Prize.

  • Poesía de premio, Saturday, November 21, 3:15 pm, Room 3209 (Building 2, 2nd Floor); Free
  • De viva voz, Sunday, November 22, 4:30 pm, Room 3314 (Building 2, 3rd Floor); Free


José Abreu Felippe

Perhaps best known to Miamians as the Book Reviewer for El Nuevo Herald’s literary supplement, Abreu Felipe but is also a prolific poet, essayist and novelist. He presented his first book of poetry at the Miami Book Fair in 1986, when it was still known as “Books by the Bay;” this will be the fifth time he’s been a featured reader.

Luis Alberto Ambroggio

Luis Alberto Ambroggio, a US based poet of Argentinian origins, began writing poetry after his mother, clearly a genius, gave him an anthology of César Vallejo’s poems. What’s not to love? He’s written over thirteen books of poetry, all collected in El jardín de los vientos, the anthology from which he’ll be reading this year.

Juan Kruz Igerabide

Born in a small town in the Basque Country, Juan Kruz Igeribade writes primarily in his native Euskera, a language of mysterious origins. Ur: Juegos de lluvia is his latest book of poetry in Spanish. Its format—a box filled with poems, illustrations and original musical compositions—is bound to surprise you.

  • De viva voz, Sunday, November 22, 4:30 pm, Room 3314 (Building 2, 3rd Floor); Free

O, Miami is a Knight-funded non-profit organization building literary culture in Miami, FL. O, Miami is made possible through support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Miami-Dade County,The Betsy Hotel, the City of Miami Beach, and the Schmidt Family Foundation.