April has been Poetry Month in Miami- Dade since 2011.
Conceived by Scott Cunningham, the O, Miami Poetry Festival this year will include 30 events and 23 projects, including performances by Manual Cinema of a piece commissioned by O, Miami.
“The mission is for every single person in Miami-Dade to encounter a poem in the month of April,” Cunningham says. “That’s why it’s a month long and all over the place. It’s why we have a combination of time-based events and projects that are not timed based.”
Since that first O, Miami month in 2011, the popularity of poetry as grown, as has the popularity of O, Miami.
“The attendance at things has at least doubled,” Cunningham says. “We have done more things and bigger things every year.”
How they arrive at which events to promote is different than most festivals.
“We organize the festival through user submitted ideas,” he says. “Every year we get more applications and every year they get better. They are finding more and interesting ways to do it.”
Cunningham says he is particularly excited about the performances on April 23-25 in Little River by Manual Cinema, a shadow puppetry group. They will perform a piece based on poet Federico Garcia Lorca’s play El Divan de Tamarit.
“It’s a totally immersive experience,” he says. “It is strikingly realistic. All the music is performed live.”
Cunningham says other events include a poetry ice cream man who is going to pop up all over Miami and give away ice cream with poems on the dessert. In the past a guy in a Ferrari drove around town reciting poems from a bullhorn.
“We’ve flown poems behind airplanes,” Cunningham says. “It’s not appointment viewing. We’re always looking to do something different. Anytime we can combine poetry with a different art form, we get a completely different audience. It just creates a richer array of things.”
Cunningham says poetry is a powerful genre accessible to everyone. Which is why O, Miami features so many grass-root events.
“We don’t want to be talking to only those who have master’s degrees,” he says.
On April 25, a teen showcase created through a partnership with the Jason Taylor Foundation will be presented.
“The kids are a mix of poets from Miami and Broward,” Cunningham says, adding that the teens were instrumental in planning the event.
“The things they put together are incredible.”
For more information, go to www.omiami.org/@omiamifestival.