Mar 29, 2023 - Things to Do

Poetry festival O, Miami puts poems on parking tickets and billboards

A poetic parking ticket. Photo: Gesi Schilling.

From parking tickets written in pentameter to a billboard ballad, O, Miami wants residents to experience poetry firsthand as part of its festival next month.

Driving the news: The 12th annual poetry festival throughout April, which marks National Poetry Month, will feature a series of events, public exhibitions and workshops aimed at fostering county-wide cultural exchanges.

Why it matters: "Each year, we hope our festival is a way for people to talk to one another," O, Miami founder and artistic director P. Scott Cunningham said in a statement.

  • "Miamians are deeply imaginative, funny, and brilliant, and O, Miami exists to give them a public platform," he said.

What's happening: The festival kicks off Saturday night with a free panel discussion at Historic Lyric Theater, where poet and 2021 MacArthur Fellow Hanif Abdurraqib and writer Alexandra T. Vazquez will discuss the power of music and culture to create a sense of place.

  • On Sunday, the popular and free Poetry in Pajamas event returns to the Miami Beach Botanical Gardens, where kids of all ages will recite their favorite poems surrounded by a pajama-wearing audience.
  • And next week, you can take part in an online poetry workshop about country music star Dolly Parton, a reading with author Clint Smith and poets José Olivarez and Jalen Eutsey, and a photo booth experience that will produce portraits with poems for participants.

What else: Apart from the many scheduled events happening in April, the festival will also host impromptu poetry demonstrations and civic publishing projects, such as:

Parking ticket trickery: If you happen to park your car at the right place at the right time, you may find a fake parking citation on your windshield with a poem.

  • The project, by Christina Frigo, looks to make getting a ticket a positive experience. Citations can also be picked up at select O, Miami events so you can ticket one of your friends.
  • If you find a fake parking ticket in the wild, organizers want you to post it to social media with the hashtags #omiami and #poetryparkingticket.

Zip Ode billboard: For much of April, the downtown billboard across from Miami-Dade Arena will display a resident-submitted "Zip Ode," or place-based poem written about a specific Miami ZIP code. Each number of the ZIP code dictates the number of words in each line of the poem.

  • Out of 1,500 submissions, O, Miami will select the winning poem on April 5 to display on the billboard through April 23.
  • Every Saturday in April, Miami's NPR station WLRN will announce the top ten "Zip Odes" of the week.
  • Select poets will be invited to recite their poems at Vizcaya on April 26.

Megaphone recital: You might be hanging at the beach one day when a group of poets breaks out into a flash mob-like poetry recital, using megaphones to communicate with the masses.

  • The poems, which will be in English and Spanish, explore Miami's relationship with the "poetic world."

Go deeper: Check out all the other cool projects and events that O, Miami has planned next month.


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