Miami New Times Blog article by Jay Jay Colagrande

One Hundred Thousand Poets for Change Hits Miami on Saturday

By J.J. Colagrande Fri., Sep. 23 2011 at 1:00 PM

Categories: Literary

One Hundred Thousand Poets for Change is a worldwide poetry gathering — basically the largest organized poetry event in history. Sound like a grandiose statement? It is.

This Saturday, there will be 650 events in 95 countries, including 13 events in South Florida alone. Expect a poetic dialogue promoting environmental, social, and political change. If you’re expecting glitz and glamor, think twice.

Unfortunately, there will not be Knight Foundation meat parties, cruises in Ferrari’s, celebrity readings where the speaker arrives four hours late, and misses the reading altogether, or recycled poems dropped from helicopters onto groups of teen hipsters. That’s all for another local poetry festival. 

One Hundred Thousand Poets for Change is definitely grassroots. It rings of poetic activism, aiming to prove the pen is mightier than the sword. The event, with 5,000 attendees on its Facebook page, is using social media to promote change in a manner not unlike the occurrences of the Arab Spring.

Co-organizers Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion are Miami transplants living in Northern California. Both are capable poets, with an unrelenting ear towards social change. They have been planning this occasion all year.

Rothenberg has high hopes for the inaugural event, saying “The realistic expectation is that change has already taken place because we are now seeing an unprecedented solidarity in the global poetry community.”

In Miami, a motley of events are planned including a central reading at the grass median on Lincoln Road and Meridian on Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., as well as numerous readings at local colleges.

Later that night, there will be a Rumi Concert, featuring Coleman Barks, poet and translator of Rumi; David Darling, Grammy-winning cellist; percussionist Glen Velez; and Zuleikha, internationally acclaimed storydancer, at Gusman Theater.

“The first order of change is for poets, writers, artists, anybody, to actually get together to create and perform, educate and demonstrate, simultaneously, with other communities around the world,” explains Rothenberg.

“This will change how we see our local community and the global community,” he continues. “We have all become incredibly alienated in recent years. We hardly know our neighbors down the street let alone our creative allies who live and share our concerns in other countries. We need to feel this kind of global solidarity. It will be empowering.”

Immediately following Saturday’s events, all documentation on the website will be preserved by Stanford University, which has recognized 100 Thousand Poets for Change as an historical event, the largest poetry reading in history.

Do you want to be a part of history? For a complete list of the events in the Miami area visit the website here.

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