O’ Miami puts poetry in motion

A student at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts is determined to prove through art that the sky is the limit.

Jonathan Lizcano, 21, will be dropping poems attached to tiny parachutes out of a plane as a performance piece for bystanders to enjoy at the O, Miami poetry festival in April.

O, Miami is a month-long poetry festival created by the University of Wynwood.  Funded by the John S. and James L. Knight.   Foundation, the O, Miami poetry festival was produced in the hopes that everyone in the Miami-Dade area would enjoy a piece of poetry.

With the month of April will come a variety of activities and events, from traditional poetry readings of international poets, to an integration of poetry into public places like restaurant menus, and educational poetry lesson plans for schools.  O, Miami hopes to break cultural boundaries as well, presenting multi-lingual events.

Lizcano, a third year student pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a focus on performative art works, has been writing for most of his life.  He discovered O, Miami through a friend and fellow student, Ximena Izquierdo, 19, who helped organize the festival.

While speaking with Izquierdo, he explained his idea to drop poetry out of a plane to her, and she suggested he propose it to the O, Miami Festival Organization.  To his surprise, O, Miami gladly welcomed the idea and in January, a friend of the organization offered to let him utilize his plane for the occasion.

Lizcano gathered the inspiration for the idea from other performance pieces he has created, such as installing sculptures on building ledges and climbing up to high surfaces and using his own body as a sculptural component.

“I think it is sad and also telling that we don’t look up more often and so the work that I do is also an attempt at creating a break in the habits of predictability that many of us succumb to as a result of our culture and customs,” sayid Lizcano.

The symbolism behind these high-in-the-sky art works, according to Lizcano, is to remind people to take note of the little things in life and of their responsibilities to their fellow citizens despite the influence of mass-corporations and capitalism by calling attention to private property and skyscrapers.

“By doing the work that I do I hope to claim our vertical landscapes as one of the few communal shared spaces we have left for creative potential that has yet to be completely reconciled or ‘bought out’ by any mass corporations as of yet,” said Lizcano.

Lizcano’s performance will be somewhat different this time, however, as he will be dropping many little pieces of art – poems written by others and perhaps himself – out of a moving plane flying over Miami.  Lizcano is currently researching a way to make the poetry parachutes environmentally friendly and one-hundred percent biodegradable, perhaps by printing the poems on starch paper.

The goal here, says Lizcano, is to address the issue of war and bombing and to remind Americans that the luxury of safe skies is a privilege that not many countries enjoy.

“Drop poems, not bombs, you know?” Lizcano suggests.

Lizcano is currently accepting poems from anyone desiring to submit one.  The only requirements are that they fit on a standard-sized sheet of paper and are be meaningful to the event occurring.  He hopes to receive poetry from writers of all walks of life so that each poem can bring something new to the table.

Lizcano believes that the effort will also demonstrate that there are endless possibilities where there is unity.

“If hundreds of people can come together simply for the purpose of sharing their words think what else we can do.”

The deadline for poetry submissions is April 1.  All poems can be submitted by emailing jonathan.lizcano@smfa.edu or by mailing 381 Centre St. Apt. # 2, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130.

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