O, Miami Gets Ready for Another Year of Rhymes, Odes, and Sonnets

It's March. Are you feeling poetic?

Load the paper into your typewriter (are you 80?) and break out your favorite inspirational beverage because O, Miami is just around the corner. The all-poetry-all-the-time celebration begins Wednesday, April 1; runs through Thursday, April 30; and is now accepting submissions for poet participants in a great variety of events.

The festival held a special information session at Gramps last night to announce plans and allow early birds first dibs on event signups. Favorite happenings such as the Gramps Poet in Decadence and Poetry in the Park will make a comeback, but don't hold your breath for a parade or José Martí. There are tons of new events to get excited about too, and more than ever this year, O, Miami is all about the 305.

See also: O, Miami Expands Into Publishing With Jai-Alai Books

"We always say O, Miami is a celebration of Miami as much as it is poetry, but poetry is the vehicle in which we celebrate the city," says operations manager Melody Santiago Cummings. She has helped organize O, Miami 2015 since the moment the 2014 edition wrapped. After crunching some data, the team found that most O, Miami participants live in the general downtown area, and that's no good.

"One of the things we want to do this year is specifically target as many zip codes as possible," she says. And therein lies the key to one of the easiest and most entertaining ways to participate: Ode to the Zip Code.

To participate, create a poem structured around your zip. For instance, if you're in 33137, write three words in line one, three words in line two, one word in line three, and so on. Residents with zeros in their codes are asked to be as creative as possible. Each week, O, Miami and partner WLRN will choose their ten favorite submissions, and some writers will even be invited to read their poems on air. It all culminates with finalist readings and prizes at the end of April.

"It will be fun at the end of the month to see whose neighborhood population is most poetic," Cummings says.

Secret Sonnets is another simple, fun way to get involved. Say you have a crush or just want to send someone a poem to brighten his or her day. You write it; send it off to the folks at O, Miami; and they have that poem translated into uncontracted Braille by South Plantation High School students, who then send that translation and a Braille cheat sheet to your surprised friend. It makes your friend happy, gives the students a chance to feel included, and raises social awareness.

"Braille is still so important when it comes to literacy because that is the foundation for your reading and writing," says project manager Emily Nostro. "We just want to give people a new perspective on what it means to be a literate person in society."

MasterMind 2015 winner Randy Burman will return with poetry popsicles, a delicious and natural treat to be handed out at O, Miami events and around town.

Poetry in the Park will take over the New World Center once again for live Wallcast readings from former U.S. Poet Laureate Kay Ryan and performance poet Jamaal May Sunday, April 12. There will be special ticketed poetry cruises on the Miami River Wednesday, April 1, and Friday, April 10, but you can have your chance to shout poetry at boaters along the river the morning of Saturday, April 18, free of charge.

Each night, a Poet in Decadence will submit napkin poems for beers at Gramps Bar, which requires signup, as do "traveling workshops," via kayaking to an island and walking through West Kendall, with local poets Michael Hettich and Nathan Deuel, respectively.

"One of the things I've always been most excited about in O, Miami is when we can combine poetry with something like film or art or music or dance," says director P. Scott Cunningham, who seems most excited about the performance from Chicago shadow puppetry troupe Manual Cinema. O, Miami commissioned the troupe to create a performance around the works of Spanish poet Federico García Lorca.

He's also stoked about having opened the Law Office of Williams, Carlos, and Williams, which will send "cease-and-exist" letters to anyone you think may need a creative push.

"If you know someone who is engaged in unpoetic activity or is living an unfulfilling existence," Cunningham says, "maybe has put some legislation through Congress that is defunding the arts, you can send us their name and address, and we will send them a cease-and-exist letter from our office."

Here's the tentative schedule:

April 1 and April 10

Boat Ride, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Bayside: Join O, Miami for a poetic cruise on the Miami River.

April 12

Poetry in the Park, SoundScape Park, Miami Beach:

4 to 6 p.m. — Spam Allstars concert

6 to 7:30 p.m. — Park activation with Acoustic Bicycle and poetic activities

7:30 p.m. — Kay Ryan and Jamaal May poetry Wallcast

April 23 to 25

Manual Cinema, 7:30 p.m., 7357 NW Miami Ct., Miami: O, Miami presents the world premiere of Manual Cinema's shadow puppetry adaptation of Federico García Lorca's poetry.

All of those events only scratch the surface. Keep a close eye on for more dates, times, details, and sign-up opportunities. Get to thinking about your zip code and your questions for the masters, and clear your schedule for some literary absurdity. It's gonna be one wild April.