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'O, Miami' Celebrates Verse With A Poem Per Person

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'O, Miami' Celebrates Verse With A Poem Per Person


'O, Miami' Celebrates Verse With A Poem Per Person

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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It's National Poetry Month. And to celebrate, we're going now to Florida's Miami Dade County.

Ms. MIRTA OLIVA (Contestant, O, Miami Poetry Festival): The haiku challenge was a chance for those who dream of writing in verse.


That's Mirta Oliva, of Miami, Florida, with her submission to a haiku competition that's going on right now. It's part of the O, Miami Poetry Festival. It aims to get all the county's 2.5 million residents to come into some kind of contact with poetry in April.

And remember, Haiku is a deceptively simple form of poetry. You just put five syllables on the first line, seven syllables on the second line, five syllables on the third, you're done.

MONTAGNE: Organizers have invited the audience of the Miami Herald and NPR member station WLRN to submit haikus inspired by headlines. Here's one by Miami's Michelle Lopez.

Ms. MICHELLE LOPEZ (Contestant, O, Miami Poetry Festival): Truth torpedo launched. See Sheen's winning melt-down tour. Tiger blood required.

INSKEEP: That's right, they're not just doing poetry. They're doing poetry about Charlie Sheen.

The festival's founder is Scott Cunningham.

Mr. SCOTT CUNNINGHAM (Founder, O, Miami Festival): It's very tempting as a teacher to delve into finger waving with poetry. And I think sometimes we lose the idea that it's supposed to be pleasurable.

MONTAGNE: In addition to the haiku contest, judges are including poetry readings in their court proceedings.

INSKEEP: An artist is sewing poems into clothing for sale on thrift store racks.

MONTAGNE: And some celebrities will be doing readings, including former poet laureate, W.S. Merwin, and celebrity polymath, James Franco. The winning haiku writer gets tickets to see Franco read.

INSKEEP: And here's another haiku contender, a political piece from Phil Harley of Cutler Bay.

Mr. PHIL HARLEY (Contestant, O, Miami Poetry Festival): The governor's pen, far mightier than a sword, cuts fat, flesh, blood, bone.

MONTAGNE: Now here's Mercedes Eleine Gonzalez(ph).

Ms. MERCEDES ELEINE GONZALEZ (Contestant, O, Miami Poetry Festival): (Spanish spoken)

MONTAGNE: That's translates roughly to: Pablo Milanes makes a new confession: Now, Liberation. Milanes is a Cuban singer who recently shook-up Miami with his comments criticizing the Castros.

INSKEEP: The haikus we've heard were all written by Floridians, but the contest is open to everyone. So can consider this a challenge. And if you need some tips, here's festival organizer Scott Cunningham.

Mr. CUNNINGHAM: My advice would be to keep it light-hearted, and concentrate on the cleverness of it. And yeah - and then something that has a little bit of heart to it.

MONTAGNE: The link to submit to the Miami Herald's haiku contest is at

(Soundbite of music)

INSKEEP: And Renee, I understand you've got a haiku there.

MONTAGNE: I do, indeed. And thank you for writing it.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MONTAGNE: MORNING EDITION, pours from radios like coffee on a spring morning.

This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

INSKEEP: And I'm Steve Inskeep.

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