Franco en route, Hoagland enrapt

By | April 30th, 2011 | 6 Comments

Here’s what was supposed to happen: Actor and alleged poet James Franco was to read from his recently published book of short stories, Palo Alto, in the main hall of the New World Symphony while an enrapt packed house wondered to itself why God makes some so pretty and others just eh. Instead, a confluence of vicissitude — persistent rain and President Obama vetoing the airspace above the Magic City as Air Force One left Miami International — made it so Franco’s plane sat on a runway in Orlando two hours after the O, Miami event was scheduled to start.

Disaster, right? Not exactly. As you can see from the above photo, the Green Goblin did eventually make it, and though he was conspicuously in no mood to flash a smile at hundreds of starry-eyed strangers and sign whatever they put under his pen, he did exactly that for more than an hour.

But that wasn’t what saved the evening.

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Kool Moe Dee Vocab Freestyle

By | April 29th, 2011 | No Comments

Thursday night, at the New World Symphony in South Beach, Hip Hop godfather Kool Moe Dee took the stage to discuss the nexus of rap and poetry as O, Miami kicked off its final weekend. Yale Anthology of Rap editor Adam Bradley, English emcee Monie Love, and poets Adrian Castro and Adrian Matejka also dropped knowledge on the topic, but KMD proved himself Master of the Mic when he answered his own question — “How do we use vocabulary?” — with a 40-second freestyle. Enjoy the audio clip (after the jump), and a video of Kool Moe Dee answering another self-posed question: “What would the emcee be without the music?”

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Talking poetry and other turn-ons with Andrew Whiteman

By | April 26th, 2011 | 7 Comments
Andrew Whiteman

Broken Social Scene guitarist, O, Miami poet, and Jewel basher Andrew Whiteman -- photo from

In my ongoing mission to interview each of the 47 members in Canadian indie-rock collective Broken Social Scene, I spoke to guitarist Andrew Whiteman last month ahead of his two upcoming O, Miami poetry festival events at Purdy Lounge (Literary Death Match Thursday night and Broken Social Spam Friday night).

Besides being in at least three bands — Apostle of Hustle and AroarA in addition to Broken Social Scene — Whiteman is also a dedicated reader and writer of poetry. In our interview, we spoke about his upcoming book of poems, Tourism; Jewel, Billy Corgan, and other “horrible” poet-musicians; and the time he jammed in the Arctic with an experimental Inuit throat singer beneath a 90-foot glacier. (I know, that last one is so banal, but Whiteman insisted we talk about it.)

What can you tell me about Tourism?

It’s largely about being on tour, something people don’t really know about. It’s about my experiences touring [with Broken Social Scene] in 2010 … for Forgiveness Rock Record. We went to Europe three times, we went to Asia twice, North America a few times.

Did that tour stand out to you as good material over previous tours for any reason?

Well, you know, it’s good because it’s contained. It’s a specific time and a specific record. April 2010 to, say, February 2011. It’s nice. People can handle that. Poetry is difficult enough to have people read. You know what I mean? You put a frame on something and it’s kinda easier for people to take it or leave it.

Poetry isn’t exactly popular in our culture, which is something O, Miami is working to change. Do you think a book of poetry based on a touring rock band might reach a broader audience than most books of poetry?

It’s certainly possible. Jewel sold a lot of books [laughs]. I’m in the same camp by doing this as a lot of absolutely horrible musicians and worse poets, like Billy Corgan and Jewel and let’s see — who else? Ryan Adams. That’s not the exact company I’d like to keep. My point in mentioning those books is that they get printed. People do buy them.

I think poetry right now is pathetic. I mean, reading’s place in culture is highly diminished since TV, and poetry goes down with that. But within the reading world, I don’t think poetry has lost any sort of ratio as a piece of the pie.

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The O, Miami Epic at 18 days

By | April 18th, 2011 | No Comments

Eighteen days in, the ravens continue to multiply.

On April 1, we launched the O, Miami epic poem project, a quixotic attempt to create an ancient literary form — the epic — through the thoroughly modern phenomenon of open-source methodology. The idea came to me last minute as a fun and meaningful way to support the month-long O, Miami poetry festival, which we are covering on a dedicated off-shoot site called O, Beached Miami.

Building an epic poem one comment at a time, without moderation, guidance, censorship, or editing, seemed like a ridiculous idea 18 days ago. That it would be a flop and stall out at a decidedly unepic seven or eight lines seemed not only possible but likely.

But it was the parchment-thin chance that the O, Miami epic would catch on in spite of/because of its ridiculousness, its absurd loftiness, its arguably misplaced faith in the faceless Internet masses to breathe life into a dying (if not dead) literary form — it was this odds-off bet that made me decide to go for it. Not to mention the “Why the hell not?” factor.

Well, 18 days later, the poem stands at approximately 240 lines by 84 contributors.* With April halfway through, I’d like to take a moment now to survey the epic at this stage in its evolution.

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Thank God: A pipeline to James Franc,O

By | April 14th, 2011 | No Comments

The following was written by an O, Miami poetry festival intern named Fictitious Intern, not by O, Miami festival director P. Scott Cunningham. Definitely not.

James Franc,O is an actor from Pal,O Alt,O who has starred in such films as YO,ur Highness, HO,wl, and Eat, Pray, LO,ve. He’s also reading poetry in Miami on Friday, April 29, at the New World Center on Miami Beach as part of O, Miami’s closing weekend (buy tickets at According to O, Miami’s organizers, many of you have been emailing to request personal audiences with Sir Franc,O during his Miami visit, but unfortunately, due to Franc,O’s schedule, O, Miami director Scott Cunningham has informed us that is “impossible.” What O, Miami has done instead is to set up an email address — — that will be used as a conduit to the star. The messages must abide by two simple rules:

1. It must be in the form of a poem. The poem doesn’t have to be a direct message per se to James. It could just be some poem you’ve written that you’d like him to read.

2. It can’t be more than 500 words (he’s a busy man)

Finally, Cunningham says he can’t guarantee that Franc,O will read the poems.

“I don’t have a button that makes Franc,O do stuff,” he said. “Though if I did . . . ” (FYI, the thought of having such a button really did cause Cunningham to drift off in a manner best expressed typographically by an ellipsis. It took loud clapping on my part to break him from his reverie, which I was reluctant to do, given the grin on his face.)

One thing Cunningham can guarantee is that all rule-abiding messages will be delivered into Franc,O’s beautiful hands.

Beached Miami is a partner of the O, Miami poetry festival. You can see all of our O, Miami coverage on O, Beached Miami.

Day of NOX, STACKS Tix Giveaway

By | April 7th, 2011 | No Comments

Silas Riener, mid NOX

Tonight, at the Moore Building in the Design District, poet Anne Carson will read from her latest work, NOX, a meditation on the death of Carson’s brother, as dancers Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener perform to the music of Ben Miller. Those are the facts. The reality defies description. It will have to suffice to say that Anne Carson is as much priestess as poetess, that Mitchell and Riener can express volumes of emotion with a single ankle turn, and that Miller’s music seems the soundtrack of a dark night in the wilderness of a distant planet.

On Wednesday, I had the privilege of watching a run-through of the performance, one of two Carson collaborations in the O, Miami program. The cumulative impact of Carson’s voice (recorded and live), the dancers’ bodies, and the musician’s instruments all striving to make sense of enormous loss was one of the most intense things I’ve seen. I could not recommend this performance strongly enough. If you are going to attend one O, Miami event, this should be it. It is NOT too late to buy a ticket.

The other Carson piece, STACKS, a collaboration with choreographer Jonah Bokaer and sculptor Peter Cole, is on Friday night, also at the Moore Building. General admission tickets are still available for $30, but we have two tickets to give away to each of the first five people who scream STACKS! on our Facebook page (i.e., 10 tickets in total). [Update: All tickets have been claimed.]

Before you hie to Facebook, check out our photos from the NOX run-through. They give but an inkling of what we’re in for tonight.

NOX Rehearsal at Moore Building

By | April 7th, 2011 | 2 Comments

I took these photos on Wednesday during a rehearsal for NOX, a multi-discipline performance featuring poet Anne Carson, dancers Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener, and musician Ben Miller. One of two Carson collaborations in the O, Miami poetry festival, NOX is tonight at the Moore Building. Learn more about it HERE.

Anne at Moore

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O, Miami O, pening Day and the O, Miami Epic

By | April 1st, 2011 | No Comments
O, Beached Miami Raven

What's with this raven? It's epic. 'Only this, and nothing more.'

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.

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Pork, poetry, paradise, and pop

By | March 28th, 2011 | No Comments
Gabrielle Calvocoressi

Los Angeles-based poet Gabrielle Calvocoressi is headed east to Miami this week for the O, Miami poetry festival.

People often draw unflattering comparisons between Los Angeles and Miami. Traffic, corruption, vanity — both cities excel in all three. It is less common to hear someone cop to having a crush on the two metropolises. A poet, rarer still. But Gabrielle Calvocoressi, author of The Last Time I Saw Amelia Earhart (2005) and Los Angeles Times Book Award finalist Apocalyptic Swing (2009), isn’t your run-of-the-mill poetess. “I’m kind of in love with Miami,” the boxing aficionado, sports(ish) blogger, and award-winning poet told me.

In fact, she loves it so much she’s due in this weekend for the start of the O, Miami poetry festival. On Friday at Boater’s Grill, she and L.A. gallery owner Heather Taylor will host Eating Our Words, a combination of two wondrous phenomena: pork and poetry. Starting at 7 p.m., the event is a traditional Cuban pig roast with readings by poet Tracy K. Smith. Then, on Saturday, Calvocoressi and FIU professor-poet Denise Duhamel will do readings at the Abe’s Penny Live opening at ArtSeen Gallery in Wynwood. That event also starts at 7 p.m. and features photographs by Beached Miami’s own Robby Campbell. (Learn more about both events on

I recently spoke to Calvocoressi about the “beautiful mess” that is Los Angeles, self-discovery as an erotic act, and what songs are making it onto her LAX to MIA playlist.

In an interview, you called Los Angeles a “poet’s paradise”. Why is that?

GC: Los Angeles is a city that continues to surprise me everyday. I think there’s a lot of similarities between Los Angeles and Miami. Both are cities that are constantly surprising. They’re truly international cities, and in that way they’re truly American cities because there are so many different people making this beautiful mess and in the midst of it making beautiful art. A lot of people have the wrong impression that there isn’t a real artistic and intellectual life in L.A. That’s absolutely not true. One of the things that I love — and I think this is true of Miami — is that there’s a sense that anything is possible and that you can dream in this incredible way. So in L.A., the one thing I found as an artist is that things like poetry and food and film and comics — all of this stuff can live together in an exciting way. I think it has something to do with the movie industry.

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Interview with artist Sam Winston

By | March 22nd, 2011 | No Comments
Sam Winston's Orphan Thats

All the thats in Sam Winston's latest work, 'Orphan'

Sam Winston is a man of many words. With the obsessiveness of a lexicographer and the perfectionism of a master craftsman, the London-based artist creates many of his sculptures, drawings, and books out of language itself, splicing up words, endowing once lifeless definitions with human vitality (and, in one case, a thirst for blood), turning the heavy volumes of the Oxford English Dictionary into airy origami, and arranging the emotions of Romeo and Juliet into blocks of text that somehow both muffle and amplify the force of Shakespeare’s tale of love, lust, and blood.

With work in the MoMA (New York), the Tate Galleries (London), and the Getty Research Institute (L.A.), Winston is heading to Miami in April for a three-week Fountainhead Residency, during which he will be interacting in unannounced but presumably cool ways with local poets. He also is scheduled to give a talk at the University of Miami on April 13 as part of the O, Miami poetry festival.

Last week, I video chatted with Winston about growing up dyslexic, Mayan butterflies, several of his works, and his favorite word. In the spirit of mixed-media, you will find photos, audio, and text below. Enjoy.

On the origin of his fascination with language

I grew up dyslexic, so my basic interest came from having a difficulty watching people use the writing system in a way I couldn’t use it. I didn’t really understand going from nouns — real-world objects — outward into articles and pronouns and adjectives. The further it went from the real world, and the more abstract the code got, the more I had difficulty with piecing all of these parts together. One of the things I found really helpful was using visual language, using images.

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