O, Miami Festival Brings James Franco to Miami to Read His Poetry

A little birdie known as The Heat Lightning let it slip that O, Miami, the inaugural poetry festival, is bringing James Franco to the 305 to read some verse. O co-founder Scott Cunningham told us, "He's pretty serious about poetry. He's made a few short films based on poems - within contemporary poetry, they're famous poems. One of them is recent South Florida poet Spencer Reese, who wrote a poem about his job at Brooks Brothers at a Palm Beach mall. Honestly, it's an amazing poem. It's heartbreaking."  The resulting Franco short, "The Clerk's Tale" premiered last year at Cannes.

At O Miami, the former Freaks & Geeks star will read his own poetry alongside his professor Tony Hoagland on April 29 at 7 p.m. Read on to learn how to score tickets and what other awesome events are included in this month-long celebration of verse.

Tickets to Poetry & Persona, where Franco and Hoagland will read, go

on sale this Friday. Act fast -- the space at New World Center only

holds 200 and we're guessing about ten times that will covet a seat. Tickets

cost $15 for students and $30 general admission.

Franco met Hoagland when he was pursuing an MFA at Warren Wilson

College in North Carolina. Although now a PhD student at Yale, Franco

told the Poetry Foundation that the elite school's curriculum cannot compare to the

depth of contemporary poetry coverage at Wilson. There, he wrote a paper

on lyrical poet Hart Crane, which inspired his upcoming flick, The Bell


Franco may be the marque name for O, Miami, but the month-long festival

has over 30 events spotlighting the best of Miami as well as the best in

local and national poetry talent. Here are some other festival highlights:

April 1, Eating Our Words: a pig roast and opening night party at Boater's Grill on Key Biscayne.

April 7, Nox: National Book Award finalist Anne Carson reads from her

latest book, Nox, accompanied by dancers from the Merce Cunningham

dance troupe.

April 9, Dérive Miami: A Miamian take on the Situationist practice of

the dérive. Poets and guests will drift through Wynwood and write

poems about their experiences. Afterward, an online map of the routes

taken and poems written will be created by Billy Friebele.

April 28, Literary Death Match: Cunningham describes this as "a reading series that is never boring." At other events, Literary Death Match has pit four readers against each other, including double-dare-style

physical challenges. "They literally make it different every time. Two

have never been the same even though they've done this thing over 100

times." Although they started in San Francisco and have traveled the country, this will be their first time in Miami. Judges include author Ben Greenman and

Andrew Whitman of Broken Social Scene.

April 30, U.S. Poet Laureate Reading: W.S. Merwin, who lives in

Hawaii, is only doing a few gigs in the 48 states while he's poet laureate. He's also one of the leading translators of Latin American poetry and as Cunningham reports, "Merwin

also has a long-standing relationship with Fairchild Botanical Gardens because he's this crazy

palm expert. He has like 800 species of palms in Hawaii."

O, Miami runs April 1 to April 30. Visit for the extensive list of events. Poets are encouraged to register in the festival's Miami census of poets here.

Follow Cultist on Facebook and Twitter @CultistMiami

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Amanda McCorquodale