Tomorrow, April 1, Gramps Bar, in conjunction with O, Miami, will kick off Poet-in-Decadence, a contemporary take on writer residency programs. The union of Gramps Bar and O, Miami makes perfect sense -- booze and literature have long been lovers. Writers such as Truman Capote and Jack Kerouac would agree if they hadn't died from -- among other things -- cirrhosis.
Standard writer residency programs provide living arrangements for authors, usually for a month or year, and supply them with a stipend. The residency program at Gramps is slightly different. "Our residency lasts one night, on a chair, in the corner of the bar," owner Adam Gersten says. "We will have 30 separate residencies, one for each night that we are open in April, where our nightly poet-in-decadence will be seated at the end of the bar in a designated seat and receive a beer for every poem written on a napkin."
It would be too easy to downplay the direct impact that O, Miami has had on locals and poetry by sharing the fact that James Franco and Kool Moe Dee have both participated. The fact is that founder P. Scott Cunningham (a former New Times calendar editor) designs events that take poets and poetry to the streets -- sometimes literally. The event at Gramps is a perfect example of how Cunningham uses his creativity and knowledge of local culture to expose Miami residents to verbal art.
Says Cunningham: "Poets tend to prefer bars without pretension. Gramps is the kind of place where Bukowski would drink, if he hadn't already drank himself to death. The cocktails are well-made and not overpriced, and the ambiance is fun and laid-back. It's the perfect place to write poems on napkins."
For each poetry-soaked napkin, writers can choose from any of Gramps' 18 drafts and several bottled or canned beers, including limited-release Funky Buddha brews.
For those who would rather read poetry than write it, Gramps offers specials throughout the week. Gramps will remain open every day in April and offer 50 percent off drinks Mondays, a day the bar is normally closed.
"Drinking and poetry go hand in hand. There are diminishing returns, but those first few drinks can really get the creative juices flowing. It's those last ones before you puke that are useless," Gersten adds. "Gramps is a good place to host music, stand-up comedy, lectures, and karaoke, so why not poetry? Besides, poetry requires only a quill, ink, and parchment -- no amplifiers or projectors necessary. You don't even need a wig, but it would be cool if you brought one."
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Wednesday, April 30, Gramps will host O, Miami's closing party, which includes a dirty limerick competition open to the public. Cunningham says, "Here's a lesson on how to write limericks. I'm sure the dirty part will be easy for Floridians to figure out themselves."
Poets can sign up for Poet-in-Decadence by emailing a short, booze-related verse to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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