Poets to Shake Up O, Miami 2015 with SOul FLO

The teen poets of Miami-Dade and Broward Counties are returning to O, Miami this year in SOul FLO, an event showcasing the immense talent that makes up Miami’s newest generation of poets and performers.

This is the second year O, Miami has partnered with the City of Sunrise in Broward County and the Omari Hardwick bluapple Poetry Network to bring new talent to the forefront. The partnership is something that’s made Miami’s month-long poetry event even better. “We're thrilled to get a chance to watch South Florida's youth poets display their talent,” P. Scott Cunningham, the founder/executive director of O, Miami, said in a statement. “Some of these poets were a part of last year's Speaktacular performance, which was one of the highlights of O, Miami 2014.”

Sady I. Diaz, public engagement manager for Sunrise and youth event curator, said that the collaboration between the city and its poetry and youth programs have helped foster a love for the written word among the city’s teens.

“For several years, the City of Sunrise, Jason Taylor Foundation and the Omari Hardwick bluapple Poetry Network have partnered on high-impact programs, focusing on youth self-expression,” Diaz says. “Our programs place dual emphasis on writing and delivering original works on empowerment and social change.” These programs include the Word Up! Poetry Initiative, Lyrical Lounge, the Louder Than A Bomb Florida spoken word festival and Voice Box.

Both she and Darius Daughtry, the poetry director for the Jason Taylor Foundation and the slam facilitator/writing coach for the Word Up! Poetry Initiative, wanted to create a “pop-up poetry experience” to further showcase the best spoken word artists from Miami-Dade and Broward high schools as well as bring the experience to, as Diaz says, “diverse areas where poetry needs to be nurtured.” Working with Cunningham and O, Miami’s operations manager Melody Santiago, they were able to make SOul FLO a reality. “The O, Miami family has been wonderful and supportive every step of the way,” wrote Diaz. “We are beyond thrilled to team up with a true community partner.”

Daughtry and Diaz have worked together on several teen poetry programs and events, and as Diaz says, the teen writers couldn’t be more prepared for the O, Miami stage under his tutelage. “He has been completely amazing with the students,” she wrote. Indeed, Daughtry has immense performance experience; along with working as an educator and a spoken word artist, he is also a radio host for 88.5 FM, a playwright, and, through Louder Than A Bomb Florida, works to erase societal barriers.

“These young poets are the pulse of the present and future,” he wrote in an email interview. “Their poems tell the stories of pain, heartache, perseverance and triumph. We all need to hear what they have to say because they are documenting [their] everyday life. Their words are realistic snapshots of what’s going on in the world.”

“Teen poetry is incredibly therapeutic and empowers both poet and listener to become agents of change for their families, friends and communities,” added Diaz. “ SOul FLO is intended to give students an outlet to express themselves. It is also an opportunity for teens to explore their unique role in our community and gain confidence in their talents and abilities,” wrote Diaz. “To me it means providing our youth with the tools needed to ultimately foster a new generation of informed, civic-minded leaders.”

Attendees will hear stories about the different, perhaps even unexpected, facets of Miami life and how Miami will be positively shaped in the future. “SOul FLO is a fresh, rich, cultural experience,” says Diaz. “…South Florida teens will have an opportunity to unveil their individual and group poetic talents, while highlighting creativity, passion and most importantly, being a voice for their communities. I hope people are inspired by what they hear and that, as writers, readers and listeners, they continue to include poetry in every fabric of their lives.”

“Attendees can expect a party with passion,” wrote Daughtry. “They’ll groove to our world class DJ [that DJ being DJ Lucian] and they’ll laugh, cry and be moved by the words and talent of these young poets. Don’t expect some archaic form of poetry. This is current, relevant and real. People will take so much away from SOul FLO. If you come with an open heart and and open mind, they both will be overflowing when you leave.”

SOul FLO takes place at the Little Haiti Cultural Center Saturday, Apr. 25 at 1 p.m. and lasts until 3 p.m. Food will be provided by Whole Foods North Miami and KIND Bars. The event is free and onsite parking is available. Event details are available at 
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Monique Jones