Parks and Recreation's Megan Amram on O, Miami and "Classic Butterface" Emily Dickinson
Quickly! Duck into the nearest doorway and let the stampeding hordes of poetry fiends spill palely past. If they spot you, start acting like a sport or religion and they will slowly back away, clutching their public radio tote bags to their chests and muttering, "Where is the mofongo of yesteryear?"
Phew. National Poetry Month and the second biennial O, Miami poetry festival are nearly over. Soon we will trade truth and beauty for humidity and mosquitos. But before then, several more of our nation's finest writers will attempt to undo the damage done to South Florida poetics by the Pinochet-like reign of the Denny's Moons Over My Hammy sandwich.
Among the most notable is Megan Amram, writer for Parks and Recreation and the Academy Awards telecast. Amram tells Cultist, "I love poetry more than almost anything," and is spending her show's summer hiatus living the life of itinerant cafe poet. "My idea of a vacation," she says, "is to go to cafes and write, namely poetry." For O, Miami, Amram will be reading alongside fellow poet Richard Blanco (you know, from the presidential inauguration) and sonic youth Thurston Moore (you know, from being awesome) at the New World Center on April 28. She's also planning "a bikini contest that involves poetry."
"As of right now," Amram says, "we want to have body painting, painting classic verse on super hot babes. The title of it will be 'My Face is Up Here.'"
And why not? A poetry-based bikini contest, we think, is how Emily Dickinson got her big break.
"She was a butterface," Amram agrees. "The classic butterface."
The contest will be "a juxtaposition of the shallow that represents one vein of pop culture, and Shakespearean sonnets. Many of them talk about 'orbs' and we will make sure that those get painted onto the women's breasts."
Amram herself will not be a participant ("I sit in cafes a lot; I'm very pasty") but offers this advice to those who would want to be the vessels of some of the finest verse ever written:
"She should learn how to read. That's a great requisite for anything in general. But she should also carry herself as proudly as possible. Because she is the vessel for some of the greatest words in history, she should be a beautiful beacon of academic light."
As for what the greatest words in history are, Amram has a favorite in "mulch."
"As I write poetry," she says, "I will often use words that rhyme with mulch, unconsciously. I really love that sound so much. It's also a beautiful thing, a real thing. Mulch."
She characterizes her poetry as "distinguished by a very chunky mouthfeel," which is, perhaps not coincidentally, a way to describe mulch. "It's very much constructed in a diction-heavy way."
Amram is excited to bring her subconscious mulch to Miami in what will be her first ever visit to our city.
"I'll be flying into Pitbull International Airport, I believe. I don't know much of what to expect other than that I assume Pitbull is everywhere and that it is full of my old Jew relatives," she says somewhat hopefully. "I've been to Disney World, so I assume it will be a lot like that.
"In my head, Miami is this den of iniquity. But my mom is also coming."
Amram has a request of you, dear reader: "If you see my mother and she looks like she is on ecstasy, please let me know."
This may be a challenge for those of us who are less familiar Amram's mother's normal state. Things to look for: "She will probably rub her face on your face, but she also does that when she's not on ecstasy. She's a very affectionate person. But really, if you see her, she is 100% on ecstasy."
Amram reads at O, Miami's finale this Sunday, April 28, at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $20 - $50. Visit omiami.org.
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