USpeak 2009:

Open Verse and Story Performance Series

USpeak Calendar of Events

For eight Friday evenings from 6:30-7:30PM, the Creative Writing Program hosts featured poets and writers along with an all-campus open mic at the Oasis Deli at the Whitten University Center. USpeak is taped and broadcasted by UM's 90.5 WVUM-FM.

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  • UHELP: open mic for relief

    USpeak for Haiti


    On January 12, a series of earthquakes with magnitudes ranging from 6.5 to 7.3 devastated Haiti. The American Red Cross is working with its partners in the global Red Cross and Red Crescent network, including the Haitian Red Cross, and other partners to assist those affected by this disaster.

    In solidarity with the people of Haiti, USpeak dedicates our open mic events to the American Red Cross for fundraising relief. Your gift to the American Red Cross will support emergency relief and recovery efforts to help those people affected by the earthquake in Haiti. Assistance provided by the American Red Cross may include deploying personnel, sending relief supplies, and providing financial resources.


    • You sign up to read, sing, or play music. You can read your own work or a poem that you choose.
    • Then you contact your friends and family to sponsor your effort
    • You collect the donations from your sponsors (cash or checks made to the University of Miami) and deliver them to Professor M. Evelina Galang in the English office, third floor Ashe

    USpeak has dedicated all its events during the Spring of 2010 to aid relief efforts in Haiti. Tell your friends and ask them to sponsor you at any of the events below.


    April 30th


    Bridget+Luke is an electro-folk duo based in Miami, Florida. 18 years after being born on the same day in Cleveland, Ohio, they attended the Frost School of Music, and began writing together shortly thereafter. First place winners of the 2nd Annual Bruce Hornsby Songwriting Showcase, they have opened for Bruce Hornsby, Shawn Colvin, Raffa and Rainer, Jesse Jackson, van*gloria, and Sirens and Sea Lions. They are currently recording their first album, due out in May 2010.

 Previous Events

  • March 26th

    Dispatches from the Customs House:
    New Work by U. of Miami Lecturers Alan Rámon Clinton,
    KC Culver, and Martha Otis

    Listen Now

    Among the English teacups, beaver pelts, and East Indian spices of the 19th-Century New England customs houses, one might have discovered a pair of writers doing professional time: Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne. One’s career was taking off, the other’s waning. What are the customs houses of today?

    ALAN RAMÓN CLINTON is the author of the scholarly monograph Mechanical Occult: Automatism, Modernism, and the Specter of Politics (Peter Lang, 2004) and the book of poetry Horatio Alger's Keys (BlazeVOX, 2008). His novel in manuscript, Necropsy in E Minor, was recently shortlisted for the Dundee International Book Prize.

    KC CULVER is a senior lecturer in English Composition at the University of Miami, where she is also the Writing Center’s assistant director and managing editor of the undergradute journal Mangrove. Her manuscript of poetry focuses on myth and story. She has been published in Gulf Stream and Flint Hills Review, and has poems forthcoming in wordriver.

    MARTHA OTIS received her MFA from the University of Florida. She has published stories in Best New American Voices and The Indiana Review, and received prizes from the Henfield Foundation, Moment Magazine, the University of New Orleans study abroad program, and the Joyce Horton Johnson Fiction Award at the Key West Literary Seminars.

  •  February 26th
    Asia Davis and the Write Side Poets

    Listen Now

    The Write Side Poets is a non-profit organization designed to gather, inspire, assist, and encourage young writers who desire to speak their own messages through the powerful medium of spoken word art to millions of their urban and suburban peers. Founded in Fort Lauderdale, FL in 2004, the Write Side Poets have touched young writers throughout South Florida and on a national level by their participation in Brave New Voices, the international Youth Spoken Word Competition. They were one of five featured times on HBO's Russell Simmons Presents: Brave New Voices, and are currently one of the top five youth spoken word teams in the world.

    Politically aware, critically engaged, and unafraid to speak, young people are picking up their pen and grabbing hold of the microphone, moving themselves into positions of power - claiming voice when they've been voiceless and access where they've been denied. The Write Side Poets empowers youth through literacy as artists and visionaries to promote social change and healthy living.
  •  January 29th
    Neil de la Flor, poet and MFA Alum

    Listen Now

    Neil de la Flor earned an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Miami. His first book of poetry, Almost Dorothy, won the 2009 Marsh Hawk Press Poetry Prize and will be published in January 2010. His literary work has been published in several journals including Hayden’s Ferry Review, Barrow Street, Sentence, 42opus, Court Green and others. In 2006, Facial Geometry (NeoPepper Press), a collaborative chapbook of triads co-authored with Maureen Seaton and Kristine Snodgrass, was published. He currently lives in Miami and teaches at Miami Dade College and Nova Southeastern University.
  • December 4th

    Mangrove Celebration Open Mic Party

    Listen Now
  • November 13th
    Matt Gajewski, radio host of Pure Imagination and story writer

    Listen Now

    Matt Gajewski was born in Madison, Wisconsin in 1984. An avid youthful reader of former Miami Herald humorist Dave Barry, Matt moved to his childhood hero's adopted hometown in 2002 after being accepted into the University of Miami's music engineering program, allowing Matt to finally witness firsthand the absurd traffic and prehistoric-sized insects oft-maligned in Barry's columns. On a lark, while on summer break from college, Matt created a radio program called Pure Imagination for the university's 90.5 WVUM-FM. Inspired by the work of KCRW's Joe Frank, Pure Imagination featured Matt's darkly comic short stories set to music by fellow University of Miami composers, as well as largely improvised faux documentaries about subjects ranging from the complicated personal lives of urban werewolves to the decline of a troubled magician whose last great feat was making Akron, Ohio disappear. Now entering its fifth season, Pure Imagination has been profiled by WLRN Television, the Miami New Times, and the Miami Herald, and has expanded from the original radio program to include a regular series of literary readings accompanied by live music at Little Haiti's Sweat Records. Matt's first book, a self-published illustrated collection of Pure Imagination stories with drawings by Miami artist Zach Danesh, was released in May.
  • October 23rd, 6:00PM


    Oasis Deli in the UC

    Listen Now


    During the week of September 25th, 2009, Tropical Storm Ketsana pounded the islands of the Philippines with more than 400 mm of rain in just six hours – more than one month’s worth of rain in a matter of a few hours.

    Over one million people were displaced by the storm, only to be hit again by a second storm, Typhoon Parma. More than 300 people were killed, and many more are wounded, helpless, and displaced. Families waded through knee-deep water, searching for relatives and neighbors as homes were engulfed with water. The floods have destroyed rice fields, ripped through power lines, and left many homes destroyed and families shelterless.

    UM’s creative writing department seeks to create a positive impact through a community event – UHelp: a special USpeak event to raise funds for Red Cross efforts in the Philippines.


    This Open Mic is just like a marathon:

    • You sign up to read, sing, or play music. You can read your own work or a poem that you choose (we have a collection of work from the South East Asian region).
    • Then you contact your friends and family to sponsor your effort.
    • You collect the donations from your sponsors (cash or checks made to the
      University of Miami) and deliver them to Professor M. Evelina Galang in the
      English office, third floor Ashe by Friday, October 30th 5PM.


    • We really need your help in spreading the word. The more students that participate and read, the more funds we can raise. This is what you can do.
    • Download and print the  event flyers info sheet and  sponsor forms
    • Post them in your residential college
    • Take them to class and say a few words
    • Email the files to your student organizations
    • Tell your friends
    Facebook Event:

    Questions? Email:
  • October 2nd
    Adrian Castro, poet

    Listen Now

    Adrian Castro is a poet, performer, and interdisciplinary artist. Born in Miami, a place which has provided fertile ground for the rhythmic Afro-Latino style in which he writes and performs. Articulating the search for a cohesive Afro-Caribbean-American identity, Castro honors myth on one hand and history on the other. He addresses the migratory experience from Africa to the Caribbean to North America, and the eventual clash of cultures. Castro creates a circular motion of theme, tone, subject matter, style, and cultural history, giving rise to a fresh illuminating archetypal poetry. These themes reach their climax in their declamacion – the call-and-response rhythm of performance with a whole lot of tun-tun ka-ka pulse. He is the author of Cantos to Blood & Honey,(Coffee House Press, 1997), Wise Fish: Tales in 6/8 Time,(Coffee House Press, 2005), and has been published in many literary anthologies. He is the recipient of a Cintas Fellowship, State of Florida Individual Artist Fellowship, NewForms Florida, the Eric Mathieu King award from the Academy of American Poets, NALAC Arts Fellowship, and several commissions from Miami Light Project and the Miami Art Museum. He has performed with many dancers and actors including Chuck Davis and African American Dance Ensemble, Heidi Duckler and Collage Dance, and Keith Antar Mason and the Hittite Empire. The New York Times Book Review recently selected Wise Fish as an editor’s choice saying, “Sinuous, syncopated verses about the Caribbean melting pot.” And “…even a cursory glance suggests his poems—which seem to be trying to dance off the page…would truly come alive on the stage. “Wise Fish” is a serious and seriously enjoyable contribution to our flourishing Latino literature.” Adrian Castro is also a Babalawo and herbalist.
  • September 4th
    Crissa-Jean Chappell, YA novelist and UM Alum

    Listen Now

    Crissa-Jean Chappell holds an MFA in screenwriting and an interdisciplinary PhD in film theory, philosophy, and literature. She teaches creative writing and cinema studies at Miami International University of Art and Design. For eight years, she wrote a weekly film column for the Miami Sun Post. Her reviews of art and culture have appeared in magazines such as Film Comment, Tate (London), New Times, Urb, Script, and others. Her short stories have appeared in numerous literary journals, including Confrontation and the Southwest Review. Her debut YA novel, Total Constant Order, was recently published by HarperCollins. It is a Florida Book Award medalist, a VOYA "Perfect Ten," and a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age.

    Guest authors and creative writing graduate students were among those who performed at this event on September 4. Students from all departments are invited and encouraged to share their work at these events, be it poetry, comedy, an excerpt, or a short story.