Hurricane Irma Report

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.

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Preparing for Irma

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.

Miami New Times interviews Neil de la Flor about Reading Queer: Poetry In A Time of Chaos

Miami New Times interviews Neil de la Flor about Reading Queer: Poetry In A Time of Chaos, a new anthology he co-editedwith  Maureen Seaton. 

Excerpt: “As Miami’s cultural landscape boomed in the past decade — with the influx of major art fairs, new museums, and local galleries opening in up-and-coming neighborhoods — the city’s queer culture was in flux. Reading Queer, a Knight Foundation-sponsored cultural organization, is looking to change that fact by highlighting voices from a community that remains fractured between Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Recently, the group announced a publication deal for a paperback anthology of poetry from local bards and internationally recognized queer writers.”

“’I think it’s the first Miami-based anthology of queer voices,” says founder Neil de la Flor, who has also contributed to New Times. ‘Poetry has had a resurgence because of the political climate and the need to huddle together and connect. Queer writers have an ever greater need to reach each other through every means,’ he says, including social media and poetry.'”

“Thanks to Reading Queer, Miami’s LGBTQ community has had a forum that gives voice to underrepresented stories. It’s badly needed in a city whose queer culture was split in two after the gentrification of South Beach.”

Read the full article here

Bernice Steinbaum Returns With New Coconut Grove Gallery

I wrote about visionary gallerist Bernice Steinbaum for the Miami New Times. Here’s an excerpt:

“Above the entrance to the gallery space hangs a neon sign that reads “Know BS,” a slogan Steinbaum has used in the past that cheekily references her initials. But in this space, the command takes on a solemn meaning: To “know BS” here is to understand culture. Inside Steinbaum’s home, the past, present, and future are transformed into a seamless tapestry composed of countless threads and seams. Steinbaum slips us inside that rarified world, allowing us to see ourselves, our hands, and those of our ancestors, weaving the threads that bind us all together.”

Read the entire article here.

Piano Slam Workshop

*Pardon the typos. 

Blogging from the floor of a preofessional development workshop where I’m “teaching” over 100 Miami Dade County Public School Teachers how to lead and execute creative writing workshops in their classes on behalf of Piano Slam/Dranoff Foundation at the Arscht Center. Teachers are amazing people. I wish stduents could see the behind the scenes that reveal the creativity and compassion of this profession. 




Piano Slam Daily Activities – Neil de la Flor, MFA

Schedule of Activities:
  

Exquisite (Corpse) Sonnets Collaborative Writing – (Theme: migration and/or music)

 

Participants will create collaborative poems using this surrealist game. This writing game involves 2 or more people. The beauty of this game is that you can add ‘rules’. For Piano Slam, I’d suggest limiting the themes to either music and/or migration so that the writers have a theme in mind. For example, “write about your or your family’s experience with migration” or “think about your favorite song or musical genre”. You can get even more specific by asking participants to include specific words with the same consonant or assonant sounds, such as Consort, Continuo, Contralto, Cor anglais, Cornet. You may even impose iambic pentameter to constrict and force musicality into the writing: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/text/sonnet-poetic-form.  

 

Instructions:

1. Note: everyone in the group will start a poem

2. Participants write two lines of text

3. Fold paper just enough to leave the last line exposed

4. Exchange poem in clockwise fashion.

5. Repeat steps 2-4 for 7 exchanges.

6. At the end, students open poem, read and assign a title.

7. Needs: sheet of paper and pen. (A theme can be applied. Rules can be applied to prompt to direct process.) Share poems. 45 – 60 minuets.

 

Sample poems: http://www.fenceportal.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Seaton_de-la-Flor.pdf

Exquisite Corpse: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exquisite_corpse  

 

 

Introduction (Migration & Identity): Who Are You?

 

In this exercise, participants will write about their ‘Migrant Voyage’ and how that voyage shaped their identity. This exercise asks participants to dredge up (or re-imagine) their family history with migration using an extended metaphor, vivid imagery, figurative language and their “native tongues”. Note: This can be a prose poem.  

 

Instructions:

 

1. Participants will first sit in circle. Group leader ask group members to ‘think about their earliest and/or most vivid memory of their family’s migration story’. Or, an experience in which two worlds collide. See L. Lamar Wilson’s “A Patch of Blue in Tenleytown”. Group leader will model by sharing. Each student will share a brief personal experience that relates to the topic. No more than 5 minutes.

2. Students will then break off and write about their experience for 15 minutes. Students will come back to circle. Each will share the last 3 – 5 lines of their writing. Students will then go back and write & revise for another 15 minutes. Share poems.

 

Note: this process can take up 2 to 3 classes to fully develop ideas and revise

Rigoberto Gonzalez: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/things-shine-night

Regie Cabico: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/mango-poem

Wendy Wu: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/my-dissent-and-my-love-are-woven-inside-me

 

45 – 60 minutes.

 

 

Personification: A Musical Instrument or Musical Term Will Save….  

 

In this exercise, participants will personify an object, such as a violin, that saves the world from silence. As an added bonus, you can use this exercise to personify other objects, such as microscope, that will save _________. It’s a great way to have students incorporate vocabulary words, musical terms, scientific terms/theories, historical events and even mathematical formulas to stimulate creativity and interest in other fields. Students are given 30 – 45 minutes to craft and mini-epic drama, poem or prose piece in which this object saves something. 45 – 60 minutes.

 

 

 

Ekphrastic Musical Poems/Ekphrastic Visual Poems

 

*an ekphrastic poem is a vivid description of a scene or, more commonly, a work of art. Through the imaginative act of narrating and reflecting on the “action” of a painting or sculpture, the poet may amplify and expand its meaning. However, in this exercise, we will replace “a work of art” with either “a song” or “a portrait of my family”.

 

Instructions:

 

1. Participants will listen to a song (group leader can allow individuals to select their own song or limit choices in another way to serve a particular purpose). For a longer class session or multi-day projects, students may listen to a variety of songs—classical and contemporary—to find the exact inspiration they’re looking for. The same goes for using family photographs.  

2. Participants will free write while the song plays and then go back and revise for a final piece.

3. Group leader my ask participants to further complicate the ekphrastic piece by asking them to write their poems in a form, such as a sestina or a Ghazal.

 

Note: The goal is to capture the moods, feelings and memories that the music or photograph/image conjures up

 

“Joga” or “Hyperballad” by Bjork during her performance at the Royal Albert Concert Hall. http://youtu.be/tU_Wx8ooRjI 

“Ode to Country Music” by Sandra Simonds: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/ode-country-music

“I Live in Music” by Ntozake Shange https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=F86YBqmcaMU

“Sestina: Altaforte” by Ezra Pound: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/sestina-altaforte

 

 

Share 45 – 60 minutes.

 

Dinosaurs in the Hood by Danez Smith

 

Students will write a poem in the style of Danez Smith that subverts a popular film, tv show or pop culture phenomenon, such as pokemon, that places an emphasis on the participants migrant history and their own unique cultural context. Once again, you can ask students to infuse their writing with musical terms to create with the two major themes of the migrant voyage and music.

 

45 – 60 minutes. Share.

 

“Dinosaurs in the Hood” by Danez Smith: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/detail/57585 & Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJwiOTeKDOQ

 

 

Science Isn’t Just for Scientists

 

Participants will comb through scientific texts (or any text you wish to incorporate into this exercise) and “steal language/borrow” words and phrases that they will use to then construct poems that fuse found and original text. *See Tom Phillips. 

 

1. Locate a scientific text: https://www.aps.org/publications/apsnews/200512/history.cfm

2. Ask participants to create a new poem using the language found in the text.

 

 

Incredible Bridges: “Translation for Mama” by Richard Blanco

 

In this final prompt, writers will write a poem in two languages that bridges two cultures. The poem can be written in the point of view of another family member, as a letter to a family member or as a letter to oneself imagining who they’d be if their family had not migrated. Link to Blanco’s poem: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/translation-mam%C3%A1.

 

See detailed lesson plan here: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/lesson/incredible-bridges-translation-mama-richard-blanco

 

When Pigs Fly

“When Pigs Fly” by muralists Rei Ramirez and Ivan Roque demonstrates the power of art to literally stop traffic and spark a conversation with friends, neighbors and total strangers. 


True art challenges us to confront ourselves and each other. To respond to the critical issues of the day and of our lives. To question our individual and collective beliefs. 


This new family, like all of our families, will live in a country with either a racist xenophobic hate-mongering woman-hating country-dividing opportunistic bully or a leader who sees value and strength in our differences because we really are #strongertogether. 

I asked you not to throw them at me when you dance

“I asked you not to throw them at me when you dance” (60″ x 40″) is a photograph from The Quarks, a series of micro stories revelaed through light. This image, like most of the photos in the series, was taken on the 4th of July or New Year’s Eve. The photograph captures the aftermath of dancing with fire and the politics of a relationship. The locus, or the curve formed by the attack of blue, reveals the condition between two coordinates moving relative to one another at the speed of light.

Exhibition information: Marriott Residences, 9200 Collins Avenue from October 22 – January 30th, 2017.