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Now Taste This! Serves Food Poems at BLT Steak This Wednesday

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Thanks to O, Miami, poetry is in the air, and on Wednesday the monthlong festival of verse celebrates food with the launch of Now Taste This! -- a project in which local poets were asked to write about Miami's restaurants and food.

The launch will feature readings by Jen Karetnick and Nick Vagnoni -- a founding member of the Miami Poetry Collective -- at BLT Steak at the Betsy. Karetnick, a poet, freelance writer, and former dining critic for Miami New Times, created Now Taste This! in 1997.

"I was looking for a way to combine my very disparate lives at the time: academic poet, adjunct professor, and New Times food critic," she says. "I was running one day -- I used to jog five miles per day to relieve stress and really let my subconscious flow -- and the idea popped into my head."

She resurrected the project in 2004 and 2005 and again this year with the backing of O, Miami.

Wednesday's event is open to the public and takes place from 7 to 9 p.m. Karetnick will read from Necessary Salt, a chapbook published in 2007, as well as a poem she wrote for the Betsy.

The other poems submitted to Now Taste This! will appear on placemats at various local restaurants during the last week of April. Restaurants that are the subject of poems include Altamare, BLT Steak, Chef Allen's, El Gran Inka, Escopazzo, Houston's, La Cofradia, Michael's Genuine Food & Drink, Red Light, People's Bar-B-Q, Sushi Samba, River Oyster Bar, Smith & Wollensky, and Two Chefs.

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