You may be aware it’s April 1. The day means different things to different people, including, for some, nothing at all. To many, the first of April heralds the symbolic birth of spring, a day of melting snow, blooming flowers, and deer taking their first awkward steps. (In Miami, substitute “sunscreen” for “snow”, “onions” for “flowers”, and “iguanas” and “waddle” for “deer” and “steps”, respectively.)
For the Liberal Arts College set, April 1 ushers in “the cruellest month, breeding/ Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing/ Memory and desire, stirring/ Dull roots with spring rain” . . . or something to that effect.
Then, of course, it is to a lot of folk a day to tell a buddy his girlfriend’s been screwing his brother or your parents that you’re contemplating a sex change or your plastic surgeon that you’ve abandoned the SRS idea altogether . . . or something to that effect in the spirit of April Fool’s.
To Miami, this year, April 1 still means all (or none) of those things along with one other: The start of O, Miami, a month-long poetry festival with the impossible but inspired goal of getting all of the city’s 2.5 million residents to encounter a poem.
I’ve been pumped for O, Miami since it first bleeped across my radar in glorious fashion at last year’s epic Patti Smith Miami Book Fair reading. So when O, Miami director P. Scott Cunningham invited Beached Miami to partner with the festival, we accepted with a hearty “hell yes”.
It really was a no-brainer. O, Miami epitomizes the worthy part of Miami, the part we write about and photograph, the part we want to see flourish, the part that makes living in Miami worthwhile beyond the weather.
A massive undertaking — undertaken by a decidedly unmassive group of locals — the festival aims to weave poetry into the fabric of the city by any means necessary, be it dropping poems from the belly of a plane, bucking stodgy traditions in favor of, say, a pork-roast-cum-poetry-reading, or enlisting all-world talent in poetry (Anne Carson, Tracy K. Smith, W.S. Merwin), music (Andrew Whiteman), and Oscars hosting (James Franco).
O, Beached Miami
There’s far more to it than that. With almost 40 events (hosted and affiliated) — many of them F-R-E-E — O, Miami is going to be everywhere in April. As a partner, we are going to be covering a lot of the events, starting with this morning’s “O, pening Ceremony” and the aforementioned pig roast at Boater’s Grill tonight.
All of our O, Miami coverage will appear on a dedicated site we’re calling O, Beached Miami. We will only be posting teasers and round-ups on beachedmiami.com itself. If that’s too much to process, worry not! You can subscribe to our O, Beached Miami RSS feed and get all of our festival coverage beamed straight to you.
If you visit O, Beached Miami right now, you’ll see interviews we’ve done with participating poets and artists, but you won’t see much more. That’s because the festival just started, and it’s going to change quickly as April starts rolling along.
The O, Miami Epic
One thing you will see is the line “O Miami, like a river or a boulevard we begin somewhere,” in the sidebar. This is the first line of the O, Miami epic. It is by San Francisco poet and Jai-alai Magazine contributor Matthew Zapruder, author most recently of Come On All You Ghosts.
Zapruder graciously got the O, Miami epic started with his pitch-perfect opening line. The rest of the poem will be written by you. The idea is to create one of the most ancient forms of literature — the epic — through the thoroughly modern and profoundly powerful methodology of Open Source (think Wikipedia).
But forget the concept for a sec. All you have to do is write the next line in the comments thread, and within minutes it’ll get added to the poem. With each new line, the poem will grow in the sidebar of O, Beached Miami, both a textual and visual representation of how poetry is growing in the city of Miami itself throughout April.
This collective act of literature is OPEN TO ONE AND ALL. Don’t worry if you haven’t written a line of poetry since elementary school — or if you never have. What better time to re/start than in the company of your fellow Miamians?
I have no idea how the O, Miami epic will turn out, what unexpected bends it will take, though it will certainly take a few. Yes, like a river or a boulevard, we begin somewhere. Call the starting point April 1 or April Fool’s Day or Opening Day (go Fish!). Call it what you will. Now that it is here, we must decide together where we go.