June 18, 2017

Concrete Poetry Dinner Raises Funds for Local Publisher in Miami New Times

In its third year at the Standard Spa Miami Beach’s summer residency, Exile Books is planning a five-course dinner that pairs signature dishes, expertly crafted cocktails, and live poetry performances. Concrete Poetry, as organizers have named it, celebrates the eponymous medium that conveys verse (partially or totally) through visual representation.

Working with the Sackner Archives — the world’s largest collection of concrete poetry — and local bard Jeffrey Sanford, the event will explore the history of the medium as attendees sip cocktails and nosh on dishes inspired by a different poem from the archive.

The proceeds will help Exile Books, a small print publisher, continue its work highlighting local artists and writers in its new Little Haiti home. At a time when digital platforms churn out content at an increasingly faster pace, small, locally owned publishers hark back to the days when print provided the only vehicle for creatives to spread their work and generate a larger following.

“Independent publishing is an accessible and an open entry point driven by inspiration, passion, design, and craft,” Exile Books founder Amanda Keeley says. “Miami has a vibrant and diverse group of artists, writers, poets, and activists that are engaged with publishing, and we provide a platform to support these dynamic projects.”

Micropublishers offer an IRL alternative to sharing posts in your feed or liking and commenting on a story online. Though nothing beats the rapidity and expediency of digital, the one-person, one-screen interface can leave users feeling isolated or, worse, boxing them into a self-affirming echo chamber where content is tailored to their likes and wants. That’s where Exile Books comes in.

“Print resonates,” Keeley says. “As we witness the rise and dissipation of digital formats and are bombarded by social media, I think people need to have something tangible which serves as a true connection. People want to meet, trade, share, and exchange their ideas.”

Meeting, discussing, exchanging, and even purchasing books might seem pretty analog in the 21st Century, but it’s a throwback that’s growing increasingly popular. Millennials starved of person-to-person interaction and nostalgia-seekers alike crave the social element intrinsic in art and culture.

If that sounds like you, Concrete Poetry is the perfect place to meet and mingle with Miami’s literary set while satisfying your palate and stimulating your taste buds. And if the $95 price sounds steep, just remember that proceeds go to support print publishing, which is both desperately needed and here to stay.

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