Over at Reading Queer, we’re adapting to the pandemic to ensure that queer voices are heard no matter what’s going on in the world. To that end, we’ve expanded our Writing Academy where we hold free writing workshops every third Saturday of the month. This coming Saturday, June 20th, you can jumpstart your writing with queer spoken word artist Regie Cabico, who will also headline the inaugural Candela Literary Pride Festival. Capturing Fire will be a virtual poetry writing workshop for the LGBTQ community and allies. Zoom link & password will be emailed to you 24 hours before event. RSVP here: Sign me up!
For Pride Month, we’ve just announced the Candela Literary Pride Festival,a series of virtual readings, performances and workshops celebrating Queer Resilience and Protest during the 2020 Pandemic. Receive a schedule of events when you sign up here.
Brian Clements invited Maureen Seaton and I to contribute to Every Atom, a project he curated to celebrate Walt Whitman at 200. (Read Brian’s introduction to the project here.) Maureen and I had some reservations about celebrating Whitman. Despite his queerness, he was racist. You can find stark reminders of that in his work. (Read about the controversy at the Poetry Foundation here.) You can read our contribution to his legacy at the North American Review or check it out below.
On the Occasion of His Birthday, Whitman
Whitman was a Gemini, loyal and easy-going.
Also nosy, untidy, and prone to prevarication.
He was gold, a wall of forevers, a tidy room
inside a house with one room. He fractaled
into plots of synesthesia and chutzpah, a man
in a time of many men, a time inside a time.
When he pivoted and sang, the ya-honkiness of
his voice swayed men into hats and talismans,
footholds, and spotted hawks. He lay on his
deathless bed and left the world glowing.
Grateful to have a new poem and photograph published in the Best American Poetry blog for the Florida summer series curated by Emma Trelles. This poem remembers clubbing in the semi-old days at The Vagabond co-owned by the great Carmel Ophir, who defined the Miami club scene for a decade or so. I miss those nights. The Vagabond is now a high rise under construction or soon to be under construction. The gentrification of this city carries on, but it’s history cannot be erased, at least for now. It lives in the light and rats that populate this town. Keep on dancing people. Keep on dancing.
This Tuesday, June 25th I’ll lead a poetry workshop for teachers during the Miami Poetry Teachers Institute at the New World Center. The five-day event is hosted by The Poetry Foundation and its primary goal is to help teachers “to develop lesson plans to bring back to their classrooms.” During my one-hour workshop titled Turning Up The Dial: Poetry Through Play, I’ll focus on using elements of chance, game theory, collage, collaboration & magic. (I promise no spells will be cast that can’t be unbroken.) We will read traditional, experimental poems, non-literary texts, such as science and math books, and we will listen to music. We’ll use these resources to create new works in solo and collaborative actions. Teachers will gain vital classroom tools, tips and a cache of writing games (prompts) that to bring back to their classrooms and, hopefully, encourage students (of all ages) to find their unique expression.Continue reading “Miami Poetry Teachers Institute: Turning Up The Dial: Poetry Through Play by Neil de la Flor”→
Help me raise $5,000 before November 15th and fuel the future of queer literary culture in South Florida. Support life-affirming programming by and for the community @ readingqueer.org/donate
Meet Parvati Villarba, Programming Director @ Reading Queer.
“Reading Queer has taught me that Queerness transcends race, gender, sexuality, and class— by which it is an umbrella term for many concepts, cultures, and the universal groups it affects. The organization has always allowed for my voice to be heard. Through the intimate workshops curated, I’ve encountered communities that tenderly brave the twilight of an exclusionary world— only to find the beauty in their inner and outer selves. I owe my self acceptance to Reading Queer and the writers that have come along because of it. Thank you.” —Parvati Villaraba.
I walked to Biscayne Bay the other day and photographed a squirrel in a tree. Behind the tree where the squirrel hung out two cops inspected a white Mercedes Something-Something-SL. The neighbors reported the car abandoned. The cops disputed their claims. One of the cops was on a cellphone talking to the grandmother of the car’s owner. The neighbors were like nah-ah and it can’t be.
Sunday I woke up, took a shower, packed my camera in my backpack and jumped on my long board (outside of course). Last time I long boarded indoors didn’t turn out so well. I ate breakfast at La Social. It was 9:00 AM.
2017 marks the third iteration of the Reading Queer Literary Festival, which I co-founded in 2014. This year, Reading Queer partnered with the Miami Book Fair, The Olympia Theater and O Cinema Wynwood to create a series of queer-centric cultural programming for South Florida.
Residents of Belle Meade suffered minor damage when Hurricane Irma ripped through the Miami neighborhood. Those who live along the south shore of South Little River weren’t as fortunate. Three days later, flood waters remain. No electric, no internet and 90+ temperatures make the situation feel hellish, but the community and its residents will recover.
Residents of other communities haven’t been so fortunate. Follow Nadege Green’s and Wilson Sayre’s extraordinary pre/post Hurricane Irma reporting at WLRN.org. Local journalist at its best.
Preparing for Hurricane Irma is a queer drama. A mixture of irrational fear and ironic humor permeates every thought. Can the dogs swim? Should I keep the ladder accessible in case we need to escape rising water and commandeer the roof? Is there enough cat litter? Water? Food?
As I prepare, many South Floridians can’t afford the gas and/or food they may need to survive and/or evacuate. Many residents don’t have the resources to spend hours in line for commodities they may need to keep them alive. The father of a friend relies on oxygen to keep him alive. He was fortunate enough to receive battery powered oxygen tanks just in case the power is cut for an extended period of time. Many will not be so fortunate.
I made a pot of coffee. I have room in the garage for just one car. The other car I’ll use to evacuate before Irma hits. I’ll load it up with my hurricane supplies and head for higher ground while others brace for the storm with the barest essentials many of us take for granted.