The Ten Best O, Miami 2016 Poetry Events

On last year's O, Miami Poetry Cruise
On last year's O, Miami Poetry Cruise
Courtesy of Miami New Times

Now in its sixth year, poetry festival O, Miami has the Magic City thinking in lyric. With a lofty goal of ensuring every single person in the county encounters a poem during April, National Poetry Month, the organization is invading the 305 one literary happening at a time. Given daily collaborations by local authors, internationally celebrated poets, visual artists, and local media, you may find choosing events tricky. For guidance, New Times has put together a roundup of the can't-miss O, Miami poetry invasions – from a virtual meditation in Miami Beach to an ode to your elementary hometown.

10. Current, by Jillian Mayer
Wednesday, April 6, from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Standard Hotel
You might call local filmmaker Jillian Mayer a virtual-reality pioneer. Ths Wednesday, she'll lead a digitally guided meditation to a group of 20 to 30 strangers in the Standard Hotel's pool at sunset. Participants will be given robes, black-out goggles, and noodle floats. You'll have to rely on your senses – and Mayer's instruction — to guide you to your daily ohm. Signup is required, so visit omiami.org for details.

9. Poetry Health Fair
Wednesday, April 6, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Jackson Memorial Hospital, Alamo Park
There's something to be said about holistic healing, and the Poetry Health Fair gives ailing Miamians a dose of poetic remedy. The event is hosted by Jackson Health System, and participants and patients will receive an official "poetry prescription" to nurse their malaise – whether physical or abstract – back to health.

8. Poetry in the Park
Friday, April 8, from 7 to 9 p.m. at SoundScape Park
New World Symphony's SoundScape Park will be transformed into an arena for the spoken word during Poetry in the Park, which will feature a reading by the nation's first Hispanic poet laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera. Grab a blanket and your favorite bottle of wine and enjoy a night of poetry under the stars.

At O, Miami Poetry in the Park in 2015.
At O, Miami Poetry in the Park in 2015.
Photo by Gesi Schilling

7. Poetry Flotilla
Sunday, April 10, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Matheson Hammock Park
Head to Coral Gables' Matheson Hammock Park, where you'll take a ride down the canals that save Miami from sinking. The Poetry Flotilla will feature environmentally sound poetry, along with musical performances by William Slayer and local favorite Afrobeta. You can BYOB (bring your own boat) or rent a kayak at the park.

6. Building Bridges: Cuban Poetry
Friday, April 15, from 7 to 9 p.m. at Colonial Florida Church
With monumental change occurring between the United States and Cuba, Miami's Cuban community is wondering how best to heal and bridge the divide between exiles and the people living on the island. Poets José Kozer and Reina María Rodriguez will moderate a reading and round-table discussion about the future of Cuban and Cuban-American literature in an effort to get the conversation started. Be sure to brush up with abuela beforehand – this event is entirely in Spanish.

5. Sounds of the Times: Desert Music
Saturday, April 16, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at New World Center
Two of South Florida's premier cultural institutions collide in a performance set to the poetry of Williams Carlos Williams in Sound of the Times: Desert Music. Two-time Grammy-nominated chorus Seraphic Fire meets New World Symphony's pulsing composition, fusing lyrical rhymes with varied harmonies.

O, Miami founder P. Scott Cunningham
O, Miami founder P. Scott Cunningham
Photo by Gesi Schilling

4. Jai-Alai Magazine-Release Reading
Tuesday, April 19, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at MADE at the Citadel
Jai-Alai Magazine
launched in 2010 to document literary life in Miami. Working backward and beginning with Issue 10, the publication will celebrate its penultimate issue with a reading and release party. The evening will feature digital projections of drawings by the mag's contributing visual artists, including Edau, Georges, Anastasia Savinova, and Elena Boils.

3. Love Letter to Hialeah
Saturday, April 23, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Milander Center
Part of O, Miami's mission is to push its lyrical stylings onto culturally underserved areas. The City of Hialeah is one such town, and in Love Letter to Hialeah, participants will be able to etch their own poems and sweet-nothings onto an eight-by-eight-foot chalkboard. The final product will hang proudly at the Milander Center indefinitely. And to truly spread H-Town's poetic genius across Miami, five to ten poems submitted during the event will be selected to be printed and mailed as a postcard to 5,000 people on O, Miami's subscriber list.

2. John Giorno and Obsolete Media Miami
Thursday, April 28, from 7 to 9 p.m. at ICA Miami
Experimental-film enthusiasts won't want to miss Obsolete Media Miami's collab with John Giorno — poet and performance artist, star of Andy Warhol's 1963 film Sleep, and a frequent elbow-rubber with icons such as William S. Burroughs and Patti Smith. Giorno's reading will be followed by a slide presentation from OMM founders Barron Sherer and Kevin Arrow.

1. Miami Zine Fair
Saturday, April 30, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at HistoryMiami Plaza
The culmination of O, Miami's monthlong celebration of literary culture is the Miami Zine Fair, where scores of local publishers, illustrators, and authors come together to explore independent zines and print culture. Guests will enjoy a zine workshop, book signings, and live music by Lizzie Bougatsos.

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