O, Miami poetry fest floats off to a good start — on the river

Miami buildings, Miami River from the poetry festival’s first cruise on April 1.
Miami buildings, Miami River from the poetry festival’s first cruise on April 1.

Stuck in traffic, fighting the good fight against humidity or trying (and failing) to make peace with the Palmetto, we often forget exactly why we stay in Miami.

At the first official event of its annual poetry festival, O, Miami reminded us.

With a sold-out cruise down the Miami River on a perfect evening, hosted in collaboration with The New Tropic, O, Miami kicked off its monthlong celebration of poetry. The ride started at Bayside Marketplace and, led by O, Miami founder P. Scott Cunningham and The New Tropic’s Chris Sopher, wound down through the heart of Miami passing things we love (Garcia’s), things we are vaguely curious about (Mark Cuban’s yacht) and things that evoke myriad emotions ranging from hostility to apathy (Marlins Park).

Local poets read odes to all those places, as well as to the old military base Fort Dallas. The trip was part tour, part reading, all fun. Beer from Biscayne Bay Brewing Company flowed as smoothly as the water under the boat. The Miami Circle, Ultra and Zeta 4 were remembered briefly. Afrobeta got up to play a song but more importantly helped determine a longstanding Miami question: which is better, Garcia’s or Casablanca? In a show of hands, the win went to Garcia’s. Nobody voted for the riverside hot spot Seaspice, though the poetry lovers waved to the diners and a drone briefly followed the boat, no doubt straining to hear more poetry.

When asked why he’d decided to come on the trip, poetry lover Stephen Schaurer said it best: “A trip down the river for O, Miami? How can you pass that up?”

You don’t have to. O, Miami hosts a second trip at 7:30 p.m. April 10; tickets are $45 and available here. Enjoy the sunset.

For a full schedule of events, visit