Poetry is cool shit. It's closely connected to images of a sensitive manly man or a powerful lady heroine, and everybody wants to feel like a hero at some point in the day. And it's at that time of day that O, Miami's ongoing Pin Up Pop Up Poetry event should interest you, because this event is all about making poets out of the whole community.
Located at ArtCenter South Florida, the Pin Up Pop Up Poetry event calls on any passerby, from the resident artist to the residential landscaper, to write a poem of any length, be it ten stanzas or two lines, and pin it to the walls of the gallery. It's a rarified happening that calls out the artist in every casual passing Miamian, a notion that's been widely well-received.
"At first," began Beatricia Sagar, artist and central organizer of the Pin Up event, "I thought maybe we could have a week or so, but they [the ArtCenter] were so nice they said we could do it the whole month and at the now we have over 350 poems on the walls."
The poems vary drastically in just about every way -- content, style, length, emotional intensity, etc -- and the sight of such a sheer quantity of fellow citizens' creative work is a really moving thing. That aspect of showing the work rendered in the spirit of this monthlong event has been extremely fulfilling for Sagar.
"It is very rare to have poetry on mass display like this, in part because poets generally have their work in folders or little books or inside themselves...And for me," she noted, "even the act of pinning the poems was important. It's almost like what a graffiti artist must feel like when they go and they put their paint on a wall and say 'Here I am -- I want to be seen.' It had that in it for me."
Pin Up Pop Up Poetry reaches its climax this Wednesday night, April 24, with readings by a handful of Miami poets who will be spitting their pieces inside the gallery amidst the walls covered in the city's verse. For Sagar, this whole process has been an incredible journey beyond her normal comfort zone and into a field she scarcely considers herself an expert in.
"I'm primarily a visual artist, but I've written poetry and taken part in poetry workshops in the past and I've always felt it would be so nice to hold a poetry workshop here [South Florida ArtCenter], but my own limitations were that I'm a strong part of the visual art community but not of the poet community so i didn't have a group of poets around me that I could call upon and invite," Sagar explained.
"Two years ago," she continued, "O, Miami did their monthlong event and that really sparked the poet in me. So ever since then, it's been on my mind, and this year, they had an open planning event, so at that point I went to our director, Maria del Valle, and asked if we could have a poetry reading in our gallery. But then I thought about it, and I said to myself 'Well, it's going to be great to have poetry read in the gallery, but what else can I do to make it bigger and more interesting?' So a friend of mine and I came up with the idea of letting people pin poems to our walls. So that was the beginning of the idea."
But beyond that intriguing idea, Sagar still had certain gaps in the planning of this event, namely in terms of who precisely was going to be reading poetry inside the gallery.
"The next thing was, 'OK, now I need poets,'" Sagar recalled, humorously. "And it's been amazing because I found the first one and that person introduced me to somebody else and so on, to where now we have 14 poets. And it's a very wide, diverse group of poets."
And "diverse" definitely is the descriptor du jour, with 14 poets ranging from university professors to spoken word regulars from Vagabond's Stone Groove. Their material is just as varied and the breadth of the work that will be read for the climactic evening of the 24th ought to serve as a brilliant parallel to the vastly distinctive and disparate works of verse hanging from the walls.
"I'm particularly excited because I'm a visual artist at an art institution that's open to the public, and everything that goes on here is about visual art," Sagar stated, "so I feel like I came from nothing, and now, in the span of four weeks, we have more than 350 poems on our walls and I'm sitting every week with 14 poets that are going to be reading in this gallery."
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So have yourself a little stroll about South Beach, see if you can meander into the ArtCenter, just west of the corner of Lincoln Road and Meridian Avenue, and find out if you enjoy the feeling of pouring yourself onto paper, line by line, and gifting the resulting words to the people of these Miami streets, as you enjoy the gifts that have been left for you.
Pin Up Pop Up Poetry will continue run at the South Florida ArtCenter (800/810 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach) through the month of April and will reach its spiritual climax with a poetry reading on Wednesday, April 24, at 7 p.m. Visit Facebook or omiami.org.