Village Life

A Night of Poetry at the Barnacle State Park

Poetry Month in the Grove

Twelve student poets were honored at the Barnacle Historic State Park on Sunday April 14 during National Poetry Month. Poetry month continues with two upcoming events in Coconut Grove: A poetry scavenger hunt at the Barnacle on Saturday April 20 and a live “Zip Ode” event at Vizcaya on Wednesday April 24. Claudia Galtes attended Sunday’s event and provided this report.
 
The lush, shaded pathway at the Barnacle Historic State Park is planted with poems tonight—the poems of high school students, attached to stands and tucked between trees in celebration of National Poetry Month. Inside the park, 100 white chairs face Commodore Ralph Munroe’s historic home. Blue stage lights buzz overhead, while anticipation builds below. The chairs are filled with the proud parents, family members, and friends of the 12 high school finalists who will read their poems tonight, alongside the renowned Cuban-American poet Ricardo Pau-Llosa.
 
It’s poetry night at the Barnacle, and the students are front and center.
 
We gave a lot of thought to what kind of poetry event this should be,” says Marc Stone, a Pushcart Prize nominated poet and Barnacle Society board member. “We decided to focus it on the students—after all, these are our emerging poets and writers, and this experience should be priceless for them.”
 
As the sun begins to set, its last rays touching the leaves above, a cool breeze stirs, and the students begin to recite their poems. Birds coo overhead, adding to the magic of the moment.
 
The students’ poems are complex, rich, and varied, with themes that touch on lost love, artificial intelligence, teenage pressures, self-esteem, and adolescent rage. Prizes are handed out, and then Pau-Llosa reads three poems from his book Fleeing Actium.
 
“I am thrilled and honored to be the principal guest reader” at this event, Pau-Llosa tells the crowd. “The response from students across the county has been astonishing in volume, enthusiasm, and quality. We are at a crossroads, the point at which South Florida has become home to a world-class, multicultural metropolis. Poetry will help define the voice of this city for generations to come.”
 
Afterward, everyone enjoys refreshments and light bites at a pavilion where 48 poems are posted on wooden beams, another 12 are displayed on stands, and 100 poems are collected in loose-leaf binders. Boys in blazers and girls in floral dresses excitedly take pictures with their poems—poems that were chosen for the event from among 400 poems submitted for consideration.

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