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Poet Emma Trelles Loves Patti Smith, Hates Fascists

As 2011 comes to an end, we're getting all nostalgic about the great moments in Miami culture that took place over the past year. And we know we're not alone. So we've asked some of Miami's top artists, writers, film producers and other cultural geniuses about their favorite 2011 memories.

Emma Trelles is an award-winning poet and writer based in Miami. This past year, she published her second book, Tropicalia, to warm reviews. Trelles has been writing and publishing in Miami for years, with experience in journalism (she was a Staff writer for the Sun-Sentinel's Arts section) and also academia (she currently teaches at Nova and Barry University). She also writes a column for the Best American Poetry blog. You will be hard pressed to find a scribe with more insight into the contemporary affairs of both literature and poetry, so we caught up with Trelles to get the rundown on all things written in 2011.


New Times: What did you think of publishing in 2011?
Emma Trelles: The same as always -- some pearls, some swine, a lot of lazy journalists still writing about the death of publishing. In May, The Huffington Post

reported that Amazon sold 105 e-books for every 100 real books. The

American Booksellers Association just posted on its site that

Thanksgiving sales by independent bookstores were up by 15 percent from last

year. That's an ocean of books people are buying. A story about all the

freaking reading people are doing would be good right around now.

Sounds good. What was the best thing written in 2011? Why?
Just Kids,

by Patti Smith just came out in paperback. I imagine it's as excellent

as it was in hardcover, an exquisitely written account of how an artist

became an artist. That book managed to convey all the starry dreaming

and sacrifice which accompanies that journey without any self

aggrandizing. Just writing about it makes me want to read it again.

Also: The Penguin Anthology of 20th Century American Poetry, edited by Rita Dove, who I saw ballroom dance with her husband at a past Miami Book Fair. Finally, Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead, by Sara Gran, a lyrical, gritty, metaphysical, and delicious detective story set in New Orleans.

Best thing written in Miami in 2011?
Magpies, by Lynne Barrett, an assemblage of delightfully strange stories. She is a master of plot. And also Sinead O'Connor and Her Coat of a Thousand Bluebirds,

a collaborative poetry collection by Neil de la Flor and Maureen

Seaton. Just the title alone is worth the price of this great little

book, and the poems inside it are even better.

Worst thing written in 2011?
All of the political swill penned by Republican fascists. You know who you are.

Ha. What's your favorite place in Miami to read a book?
I

just spent a Sunday at Oleta River State Park, where there's plenty of

soft grass and shady pines to sprawl beneath and read, doze...
 
Pretty. How about the best place in Miami to buy a book?
Books

and Books, Miami Book Fair International, The Bookstore in Coconut

Grove, and University of Wynwood, publisher of the incomparable Jai-Alai

Magazine and host to visiting poets from around the country who read,

teach, and sell their books to happy visitors.

Other than O, Miami, what was the best reading you attended in 2011?
Hands

down, W.S. Merwin at the O, Miami poetry festival. He read so many of

his beautiful poems about all manner of people, creatures, and places:

Topsy the elephant, a poignant search for a beloved and missing dog, how

rain at daybreak illuminates the "washed colors of the

afterlife....even though the whole world is burning." He spoke directly

about the necessity of compassion for one another and for the planet we

share. The spotlight at the New World Center made his white hair shine

like a halo.

How about the best writing workshop in Miami?
The

Florida Center for the Literary Arts dishes up some pretty nifty

creative writing classes year round, taught by local writers, and also

at The Writer's Institute, three-day intensive workshops in poetry, fiction,

and creative non-fiction. For the latter, instructors include

nationally lauded authors such as Ana Menendez, Steve Almond, Robert

Pinsky, Li-Young Lee, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Rick Bragg, and

Francine Prose. Bonus points for being affordable.

What does the future of publishing in Miami look like??
Promising, rich, startling, prolific, fueled by Cuban coffee and sunlight.

How poetic.

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