O, Miami: How A Festival Infused A City With Poetry

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How do you bring poetry to the 2.6 million residents of one of the most diverse cities in the country?

A new report explores the O, Miami poetry festival’s efforts to bring the art form to life by dropping poems from helicopters, sewing them into clothing, placing them throughout a botanical garden and even shouting them out of a Ferrari.

Commissioned by Knight Foundation, the report not only chronicles the rise of Miami’s art scene and the unorthodox, inaugural O, Miami festival, it also offers insights for any cultural organization trying to engage new audiences and reframe art for their communities.

“Today’s audiences demand to be engaged, and often that means taking art out of the symphony halls and into people’s everyday lives,” said Dennis Scholl, vice president/arts at Knight Foundation, which inspired and funded the festival. “Whether you’re a poetry enthusiast, organizing a small music festival, or more globally trying to reach audiences at any level, O, Miami will resonate.”

The report, O, Miami: How a festival infused a city with poetry, is being released ahead of the 2013 O, Miami festival this April, which will present a brand-new series of projects, interventions and events that will once again re-imagine what’s possible in the presentation of contemporary poetry. 

This year’s festival, which coincides with National Poetry Month, includes: A special celebration with Thurston Moore, lead singer of Sonic Youth; an event featuring Miami-raised presidential inaugural poet Richard Blanco, Tattoo + Poetry Night featuring legendary tattoo artist Duke Snyder, and the first-ever poetry parade on South Beach featuring performances by well known dead poets.

The report is part of Knight Foundation’s Reporter Analysis series, where Knight commissions independent reporters to evaluate programs it funds. O, Miami: How a festival infused a city with poetry was written by Brett Sokol, the arts editor for Ocean Drive magazine whose writing on Miami’s cultural scene has also appeared in the New York Times, New York Magazine and Slate. Judy J. Miller, who oversaw Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage while serving as managing editor of the Miami Herald, edited the report.

About John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. O,Miami was inspired by Knight Foundation’s arts program, which aims to engage and enrich communities in part by bringing art to unexpected places. For more, visit knightfoundation.org.

About O, Miami

O, Miami Poetry Festival was created in 2011 by the University of Wynwood and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The festival occurs every other year and has the mission of delivering a poem to every single person in Miami-Dade County in the span of one month. For more, visit omiami.org.


Andrew Sherry, Vice President/Communications, (305) 908-2677, [email protected]

Lisa Palley, Palley Promotes, (305) 642-3132, [email protected]