For the first USpeak Flash Fiction & Poetry Performance Series of the 2015/16 year, students and the community at large were in for a treat. Local writer and new University of Miami Creative Writing faculty member Chantel Acevedo is back after years away, and on Monday read from her new book, The Distant Marvels, which was published this year.
“This is my first time [participating in USpeak] and it’s like a little homecoming reunion also,” says Acevedo. “I...thought I’d read a little from the novel [The Distant Marvels] and then be brave and read some poems.”
Hialeah-born Acevedo received her undergraduate and MFA degrees from the University of Miami and her previous novels include Love and Ghost Letters, which won the Latino International Book Award and was a finalist for the Connecticut Book of the Year, and A Falling Star, winner of the Doris Bakwin Award and the National Bronze Medal IPPY Award.
Sponsored by the UM College of Arts and Sciences, the English Department’s Creative Writing Program, and Mangrove Literary Journal, all readings will take place off-campus this year at Books & Books in Coral Gables in an effort to bring UM out into the community.
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And if you’re wondering whether or not Acevedo was nervous to be coming back home and giving a reading, you’d be wrong.
“Part of giving a reading is one, not reading for too long, and two, giving the audience some context,” says Acevedo. “I think people come out to find out who the writer is, who the puppeteer is behind the puppets, so to speak.”
While Acevedo is the featured reader, USpeak is an open mic event where attendees can also read their work, play their music, and listen to the art of others and is free and open to the public. If you're interested in participating, simply sign up at the door.
For more information about USpeak events, including the schedule for later events in the series, visit miami.edu/uspeak, which also offers podcasts of previous USpeaks.