P. Scott Cunningham is dead-set on promoting literary arts in Miami. And that's no easy task in a city known more for its boobs and bass than its books.
As a poet and founder of fake institution University of Wynwood, Cunningham has been programming real author and book events around Miami since 2008.
Last year, he launched a month-long poetry festival O, Miami, with the ambitious goal of exposing every single one of Miami-Dade's 2.5 million residents to poetry.
So he and his cohorts shouted verse from convertible luxury cars; sewed poems into thrift store threads; flew poetry banners behind planes over South Beach; put poems on buses in English, Spanish, and Creole; and even dragged James Franco to town to read his poetry.
See a selection of video highlights from last year's O, Miami below.
To commemorate this year's national poetry month, Cunningham and O, Miami are hosting a series of verse events throughout April. Click here to see the lineup of budding literary stars and former poet laureates.
HuffPost Miami spoke about the 305 with Cunningham, who's work has appeared in "The Harvard Review," "Pure Francis," "Abe's Penny," "Northville Review," "Roanoke Review," "Floating Wolf Quarterly," and "The McSweeney's Joke Book of Book Jokes," among others.
Who are you:
P. Scott Cunningham, poet.
Years in Miami:
What's your first Miami memory?
I’m from Boca Raton, so naturally my favorite childhood memory of Miami is when I was 17 and I used a fake University of Kentucky ID to get into a club on Washington Avenue.
Running a fake university: University of Wynwood, and directing O, Miami, a poetry festival created with founding sponsor the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
Favorite 'Only in Miami' moment?
Receiving grants from Knight Foundation to fund the activities of a fake university. I seriously don’t think that would happen anywhere else except in a place with such a strong sense of the imaginary and the possible.
What's your idea of a perfect day in Miami?
When the city is fully connected by light rail; the Marlins have been bought by a coalition led by Nathaniel Sandler and David Gonzalez; and the mayor is Udonis Haslem.
395 or 195?
Is there really a debate on this? 395 is hell’s driveway. 195 is almost always smooth sailing and the views are better.
Local oasis to escape the 305 grind?
Where do you take visiting out-of-towners?
Boater’s Grill on Key Biscayne. It’s located on a lagoon inside of Bill Baggs State Park on Key Biscayne, serves whole fried fish, and is run by a Cuban family. Doesn’t get more Miami than that.
Which is more magical, Monkey Jungle or Coral Castle?
Shamefully I’ve never been to either, but from what I’ve heard, Coral Castle. Is there anything less magical than a monkey?
What do you think of the local lit/poetry scene?
It’s exciting to be here right now. We’ve always had great foundational institutions in Books & Books, Miami Book Fair International, and the university writing programs, but we’ve also had years and years of brain-drain to destinations north. Just in the last two years though I’ve met more and more young writers who are making a go of it in Miami, and nothing is more important to the health of the scene than new blood.
Last big project you did:
UW is in the midst of hosting a series of visiting writers at The Betsy Hotel. As a poet, I did a performance last fall with the artist Tim Stanley called "Gene Hackman" in which we created a writer’s residence inside of Bas Fisher Invitational.
Upcoming projects you're working on:
1) O, Miami 2013
2) A publishing venture called Florida Precision Instrument
3) A book of poems
Favorite author to come out of Miami?
That’s tough. I’ll pick a dead one to make it easy on myself: Donald Justice.
Why do you hate Miami?
I hate Miami because it’s shallow and corrupt, and the public transportation sucks.
Why do you love Miami?
I love Miami because it challenges me everyday to be a better person, both through its hostility to my well-being and the artists working here whose intelligence and vision make me believe in the potential of this place. I share an office on the Miami River with Coral Morphologic and the Borscht Film Festival, and I fall back in love with Miami every time I see Colin Foord’s coral-shaped hair.
What are three local meals you can't live without:
I’ve been gluten-free for a month now, and there is nothing more annoying than reading someone’s gluten-free food recommendations so instead I’ll give you my most gluten-ness list:
-pepperoni pizza from Steve’s
-fettuccini carbonara from Michy’s
-turkey/camembert with everything on a croissant from La Sandwicherie.
Five songs recently blasted from your speakers:
Azealia Banks, "212"
Cloud Nothings, "Wasted Days"
M83, "Midnight City"
Fort Lean, "Beach Holiday"
In a word, Miami is...
WATCH: Highlights from Cunningham's inaugural O, Miami festival last year:
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