O Miami is all about breaking new literary ground. That's the defining principle of the festival, which aims to reach every citizen of Miami-Dade County with a piece of poetry. And throughout April, they've certainly blanketed our fair city with all things poetic.
Friday's Animal Spirits was one such groundbreaking event, a nighttime shindig where Miamians scored 305-inspired ink, sipped craft cocktails, and witnessed the first ever tattooing session-slash-poetry reading. New ground, for sure.
In true Miami fashion, the event was slow to kick off. But from the get-to, tattoo artists were buzzing along with their work in the lobby, permanently marking a lucky few with 305-tribute tats. The rest of the crowd mingled on the Freehand's breezy outdoor patio, sipping drinks from the Broken Shaker (despite a rather lengthy line) and chatting away. Renowned tattoo artist Duke Riley worked the crowd, cocktail in hand.
P. Scott Cunningham, the brains behind O, Miami, was first up behind the mic, introducing the guests of honor and thanking the many souls that came together to make the festival a success.
First to read was Kevin Young, editor of The Hungry Ear anthology and critically acclaimed poet in his own right. His poetic selections of choice included his own epic "Ode to Pork," Elizabeth Alexander's "Butter" and Baudelaire's "Be Drunk." Words resonated. For example: "You have to be always drunk. That's all there is to it--it's the only way. So as not to feel the horrible burden of time that breaks your back and bends you to the earth, you have to be continually drunk." Truth.
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His reading was smooth-spoken and rhythmic. He concluded with a series of poems dubbed Winehouse - yes, for the singer, and also in tribute to good vino.
Next up, poet and chairman of the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board Tom Healy took to the mic to read from his book, the event's namesake - Animal Spirits. And in an all-time first, his upper arm was inked with a commemorative O as he read aloud. Trooper, for real. He was charming, entertaining, and didn't even flinch when the needle did its thing.
We can't wait until the next O, Miami lineup brings a lot more literary firsts. Skydiving poets? Pit Bull reading poetry? Poetic raves? We're waiting with bated breath.