Miami, We Meet Again

Hey! This week's story up at REDUX ("Work Worth a Second Run") is "Driving in Snow" by Joseph M. Schuster. You can read it here.

Hey! (Part 2) We are now in the Seminfinals round at the Goodreads Choice Awards, so those who voted can vote all over again. Please, please support Don't Kill the Birthday Girl in the "Food and Cooking" category. Write-in votes from the first round determined that my competition now includes not only Gwyneth Paltrow and El Bulli but Paula Dean and Alton Brown. I don't know that I or anyone can take down the Fabulous Paula Deen, Butter Queen...but it would be really amazing if a girl who has never used butter in her life got to share the Finalist round with her. Voting it super-easy and fast; and after November 2o they'll tally votes to determine the Top 5 in each of the 18 categories. There have been over 320,000 votes cast! If you're interested in the slate of SheWriters, I've posted a round-up here. I'm rooting for Tayari Jones's Silver Sparrow in the "Fiction" category.

This week I am really excited to return to Miami, where I spent five weeks in the early part of the year as the inaugural writer-in-residence for LegalArt. I didn't fully appreciate the gift of that opportunity at the time: to step into an unfamiliar city (in a raw downtown neighborhood) and plunge into a community of eight visual artists, complete with avant garde sculpture installations in the sinks and 2 AM ping-pong matches in the shared kitchen. It was completely random and awesome but, of course, I was too damn worn out from my travels to enjoy that. I was missing home, missing a boy in Mississippi, and on deadline for a long reported piece. It had been a while since I'd enjoyed the night-owl rhythms of my 20s and I struggled to get work done. 

Here's a photo that the funny, acerbic, wonderful Miami poet Neil de la Flor took of me one night, when we went out so I could take notes on the Wynwood Art Walk...

I'd made the mistake of turning a gift into a job, thinking that was the Responsible thing to do. But since then, I've realized my time there broadened my understanding of being a working artist in the world. Though sometimes moody (and at one point suffering a beyond-bad allergy attack), I did get to know the real town and the people who make it special. There were great nights. I hope I get to catch a few songs at Luna Star Cafe, treat myself to the beet & heirloom tomato salad at Michael's Genuine and the chickpea panisse at Michy, see what new letterpress posters are up at Sweat Records. I hope I get to walk along the jetty and boardwalk at the south tip of the beach. 

I'm honored to have THREE events in conjunction with Miami Book Fair International. I'll be in the audience, too; on Saturday I hope to catch Gabrielle Hamilton (Blood, Bones and Butter), Karen Russell (Swamplandia!)--I missed her when we were both at the Decatur Book Festival--and I want to hear the Rock Bottom Remainders play (Dave Barry, Scott Turow...a whole lotta writers making a whole lotta noise). On Sunday I'll dash from my reading to hear Oxford friend Tom Franklin (Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter), and then there's an amazing afternoon panel on memoir featuring Bill Clegg, Jill Bialosky, and Kelle Groom. This is one of the biggest literary festivals in the country, and I urge you to come by: a gift to yourself pre-Thanksgiving hassle.  

Where I'll be reading, November 18-20~

Friday, November 18 - 8 PM - $10 at door
Bardot (3456 North Miami Avenue)

"All-star judges--Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club), artist Dean Haspiel (the mastermind behind the Bored to Death intro), and novelist Justin Torres (We the Animals)--will pass judgment on a fierce foursome of diverse combatants, including Mat Johnson (Pym), T.M. Shine (Nothing Happens Until It Happens to You), comics mastermind Jennifer Hayden (the brain behind Underwire), and poet/non-fictionist Sandra Beasley (I Was the Jukebox)."

Saturday, November 19 - 5 PM - Free
Room 3410 (Building 3, 4th Floor)
at Miami Dade College (300 NE Second Ave.)

"Sandra Beasley on tales from an allergic life, Peter Selgin on his life as an artist, Mireya Mayor on her journey from NFL cheerleader to National Geographic explorer."

Sunday, November 20 - 12:30 PM - Free
Centre Gallery (Building 1, 3rd Fl, Rm 1365)
at Miami Dade College

"Readings by Michael Hettich, Beth Ann Fennelly, Sandra Beasley and Pablo Medina."

See you there. Yes, I'll have my flask.