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O, Miami: A Month-Long Ode To Poetry With A Mission

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – From bar stools to urinals, and everywhere in between, South Florida is teeming with the presence of poetry for O, Miami, an annual month-long festival with a mission.

April is the cruellest month, breeding poetry all across the country for National Poetry Month. Furthering the ode to the craft, Scott Cunningham founded O, Miami four years ago.

"So we started O, Miami in 2011 with a founding grant from The Knight Foundation. We decided to adopt this mission of bringing a poem to every single person in Miami-Dade County during the month of April," Cunningham said.

Watch Lisa Petrillo's Report

With 2.5 million residents, the feat is no easy task. To help, there are 40 events in 30 days.

"What I found from doing the festival is most people have some kind of connection with poetry, but they've forgotten about it or buried it. But, if you meet them halfway, they're interested an inspired and that's what we try to do," Cunningham told CBS4's Lisa Petrillo.

At Gramps in Wynwood, 30 writers are chosen for one night "poet in decadence." Poets like Robert Ramos write their poems on a cocktail napkin while sitting at the bar. For each poem he writes and presents to the bartender, Ramos gets a free beer. There is a three poem for beer limit.

Over at History Miami, artist Ian Thomas is gold leafing excerpts from different poems on urinals—dubbed murinals—reaching male audiences at an unexpected location.

"It's an annalistic and vulnerable experience." Thomas said.  "Hopefully it gives them a place to pause and consider it in the way they didn't expect to."

During O, Miami, zip codes can also be morphed into poetry. Cunningham explained how it works: each number in the zip code represents the number of words used in each line. Here is an ode to Cunningham's Miami Beach zip code, 33139 "One hundred years, / Old this year, / Also, / The average time, / It takes you to escape during the boat show."

So, O, Miami, get ready to channel your inner Robert Frost, Sylvia Plath, Maya Angelou in the month of April.

O, Miami is on through the end of the month. For more on the festival's events, click here.


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