The Miami Lit Scene?

If you’re anything like me, finding a literary community in Miami has been a bit of a dicey enterprise once you’ve finished scouring Barnes & Noble and Books & Books. It can be a bit daunting, since the pervasive images that are associated with Miami tend to focus more on the clubbing and tanning sides of things. But for as big of a party scene that Miami has, it can also have an artsy and literary vibe to appeal to the hipster in all of us. If you’re looking to get your lit on, start by looking right around the corner.

At UM, there are several opportunities and events you can take advantage of. Joining Mangrove (*hint-hint-nudge-nudge*) is a great opportunity to getva reading on what your fellow undergraduates are interested in writing about. We’ve received and continue to receive some really great submissions by members of our own student body and others around the U.S., so you owe it to yourself to at least thumb through the past issues.

You should also attend at least one USpeak lecture. USpeak is a series of literary evenings held at the Oasis Deli in the UC which features local writers from UM and the greater Miami community. What’s even cooler about USpeak is that if the times conflict with your schedule, you can still catch it on iTunes by subscribing to their podcast.

These are all fine, but if you’re looking for something a little bit more “out there,” give Pure Imagination Live on UM’s student radio station, WVUM a try. P. Scott Cunningham, University of Wynwood and O, Miami organizer (we’ll get to these later) described Pure Imagination as “Equal parts music and literature, a Pure Imagination episode is as likely to disturb the soul as it is to incite laughter, like a double-bill of Sufjan Stevens and David Sedaris” in an article published in the Miami New Times. Pure Imagination is the brainchild of Matt Gajewski, a UM alum whose coolness inspires a girly literary crush in yours truly and who somehow is always around every cool literary event at UM and in Miami.  Pure Imagination airs on WVUM 90.5 on Monday nights at 10PM and every now and again, Matt takes his show on the road and performs it live at Sweat Records with his band Mountain Dew Code Red Terror Alert.

This is all well and good, but what about out of campus? What if you want to expand your wings and graze on different, non-ibis-infested pastures? Well, talking about Sweat Records is a good way to start since this independent record store regularly hosts events for the literary-minded. Aside from hosting Pure Imagination (seventeen times and counting!), Sweat is also hosting a hip-hop slam text writing workshop on November 8th. Led by Canadian-born Webster, it will be a workshop to explore text, hip-hop and the integration of several literary techniques you heard of in AP Literature.  

November is an awesome month for literature in Miami because of the (drumroll please) the Miami Book Fair International! This event rolls around once a year to delight your literary sensibilities for one whole week! There are authors galore coming and a street fair where more than 250 publishers and booksellers will exhibit and sell books and where you may likely find your next favorite author.  The mix of local talent and superstars is only part of the Fair’s irresistible allure. Another point in its favor is that you can get to it via metrorail and metromover, meaning you need not brave the infamous Miami traffic to satisfy your curiosity. This year, make sure to check out Editorial Ultramar’s presentation of The City of Possible Unity: A Miami Poetry Collection. Also, the folks from Hialeah Haikus will be around to present a reading that you won’t want to miss.

Finally, I promised we’d get to P. Scott Cunningham and O, Miami. Cunningham is this really awesome guy who’s made it his mission to increase the literary community and life of Miami. With the support of the Knight Foundation, Cunningham and his team created the University of Wynwood, an organization dedicated to “curate events and projects that advance contemporary literature in Miami.” UW’s main projects include O, Miami, Jai-Alai Magazine and the Visiting Poets Series.

You might have heard of O, Miami back in April. It was a month-long effort to bring poetry and literature to every person living in Miami-Dade County. And they did it not just by scheduling readings, but also by incorporating poems into menus in several restaurants, bombing poems  from the sky and by pitting writers against one another in a Literary Death Match.
I could keep slobbering about it, but I think you get my point. So. The moral of this post. I was able to find the information for this post in little over an hour. If I was able to do that, so can you. A simple google search will go a long way. Start with the Books & Books events page and go from there and don’t let the beach and party visage of Miami keep you from discovering the trove of literary awesomeness that lies beneath it.  

–Lilliam Albizu-Campos, Mangrove Design Editor

Upcoming Events:

Hip-Hop Slam Text Writing Workshop
November 8th, 2011 4:30PM

Alliance Française

618 SW 8 St., Miami, FL 33130

Webster, a Canadian artist, will lead a workshop as an exploration of text, hip-hop and a variety of literary tools including imagery, metaphors, rhymes, structure, articulation, flow, rhythm and emotion. Through the medium of music, Webster discusses the importance of words and the role they play in writing hip-hop texts. Workshop participants are encouraged to write their own texts.
Miami Book Fair International
November 13th-20th
Miami Dade College The Center @ MDC
300 Northeast 2nd Ave., Miami, FL 33132-2204


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