USpeak: Open Verse and Story Performance Series

The Creative Writing program begins its second year of USpeak, a series of eight literary events at the Oasis Deli in the Whitten University Center of the Coral Gables Campus. Each evening features a local writer from the University of Miami or greater Miami literary community. Audience members are also invited to step up and share their poems, stories, and music at the Open Mic. USpeak is recorded and available to listeners on iTunes, and is sponsored, in part, by the U. of Miami's Creative Writing Program, English Department, and Auxiliary Services. Light refreshments will be served.

All podcasts are engineered and produced by UM Alumni, Matt Gajewski.

   USpeak 2009 Photos, Schedule and Details

USpeak Calendar of Events

Doors open at 6PM and programs begin at 6:30.  Our events are free and open to the public.  All are invited to bring a poem or a page of prose and to read during the open mic portion of the evening.  Sign up at the door.

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    • September 24th: USpeak Kick-Off

      Geoffrey Philip

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      Geoffrey Philp is a poet and fiction writer who teaches English at Miami Dade College, where he also chairs the North Campus' College Preparatory Department. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, he attended Mona Primary and Jamaica College, where he studied literature under the tutelage of Dennis Scott. When he left Jamaica in 1979, he went to Miami Dade College and after graduating, studied Caribbean, African and African-American literature with Dr. O.R. Dathorne and creative writing with Lester Goran and Isaac Bashevis Singer at the University of Miami, where he earned both a baccalaureate degree and Master of Arts in English. In 1991, he returned to the U. of Miami as a James Michener Fellow and studied poetry under Kamau Brathwaite and fiction with George Lamming.

      Prof. Philp has published five collections of poetry; a children's book; two books of short stories, Who’s Your Daddy? and Uncle Obadiah and the Alien, and a book of poems and short stories titled Twelve Poems and a Story for Christmas. His master's thesis, Benjamin, My Son, was published by Peepal Tree Press in 2003. A critically acclaimed author, Philp's work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Small Axe, Gulf Stream, Wheel and Come Again: An Anthology of Reggae Poetry, the Oxford Book of Caribbean Short Stories, and the Oxford Book of Caribbean Verse.

      This evening, Geoffrey Philp will read excerpts from his newest collection of poems, Dub Wise. Scheduled to be released by Peepal Tree Press in late September, it has already garnered praise from other poets:

      “Without losing the joy of play or the play of the rhythms, Dub Wise celebrates the burdens and delights of love, friendships and the responsibility of being at home in the world.” --Olive Senior

      “Geoffrey Philp...sensitively explores his complex heritage, alert to the environment he has entered and to his Jamaican roots.” --Mervyn Morris

      “Above all, there is the continuing infolding of a ‘Jamaica Tradition’ as being established in the voices of Morris & Dawes, plus also the acknowledgment of McNeill, Baugh, Mikey Smith & Garvey, and the NL of Jean Binta Breeze.” --Kamau Brathwaite

    • October 8th: USpeak (Family Weekend)

      Creative Writing Alumni Reading

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      Judy Hood, MFA program alumna, reading at USpeak.

      This evening will feature readings by local alumni of the U. of Miami’s creative writing program. Writing and performing in a dazzling variety of styles, our graduates address many topics, both amusing and profound. Alumni who want to read or perform their work are invited to contact Prof. Walter K. Lew at can just come and sign up for the Open Mic.

    • November 12th: USpeak
      Fred Frohock

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      Fred M. Frohock is the author of eleven books and numerous articles in scholarly journals. His latest book, Beyond: On Life After Death (University Press of Kansas, 2010), critically scans the evidence for life after death, a study that supports a variation on the thesis that evidence underdetermines theory, or, roughly put, that rival theories can be consistent with the same data set and rank ordered only by relying on background considerations. A recent review in The Chronicle of Higher Education says of Frohock and his “captivating” book:

      This self-described “closet mystic” offers us a compelling story line: A tenured professor and department chair writes an academic book in which he sympathetically explores the verisimilitude of reincarnation, zombies, near-death experiences, autoscopy, nonphysical selves, and so forth.

      Just to lend it all an added air of scholarly gravitas, he sprinkles in fictional vignettes about extraterrestrials, meditations on science fiction, and reflects on the preternatural Ellington at Newport 1956 recording. He's a relentlessly adventurous thinker, Professor Frohock is. I wouldn't be surprised if, like the fellow in the Dos Equis beer ad, he's routinely questioned by the Miami-Dade police just because they find him interesting.

      Prof. Frohock’s work often combines theory and field work. Special Care (1986) is an ethnographic account of decision-making in an intensive care neonatal nursery, while Healing Powers (1992) studies alternative medicine and spiritual healing. Both were published by the U. of Chicago Press, as was Lives of the Psychics(2000), an examination of anomalous and mystical experiences. Public Reason: Mediated Authority in the Liberal State (Cornell U. Press, 1999) delineates public reasoning in terms of post-Wittgenstein theories of language. Bounded Divinities: Sacred Discourses in Pluralist Democracies (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006) is a treatment of religion and politics that uses Santería as a case study in a theoretical examination of the two practices.

      Prof. Frohock earned his Ph.D. in Political Science and Philosophy at the U. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Twice a Social Science Research Council Fellow, he is currently professor and chair of political science at the University of Miami, with academic concentrations in political philosophy, law, and bioethics.

    • December 3rd: USpeak
      Asia Davis

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      Asia Davis is an up-and-coming spoken word artist and slam poet. Currently a senior in the University of Miami College of Arts and Sciences, Davis is influential in the South Florida spoken word community. She is a member of the Write Side Poets, a slam team representing Ft. Lauderdale and currently ranked third in the world at Brave New Voices, the international youth poetry slam competition.

    • January 28th: USpeak
      Rita Wong

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      Rita Wong is the author of three books of poetry: sybil unrest, co-written with Larissa Lai (Line Books, 2008), forage (Nightwood, 2007), and monkeypuzzle (Press Gang, 1998). She received the Asian Canadian Writers Workshop Emerging Writer Award in 1997 for monkeypuzzle, and the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize in 2008 for forage. Wong teaches in Critical and Cultural Studies at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design, Vancouver, BC, Canada, where she has developed a humanities course focused on water, with the support of a fellowship from the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society. She is currently researching the poetics of water, supported by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.  Wong serves on the boards of the journal West Coast Line, the Association for Literature, Environment, and Culture in Canada (ASLE Canada), and the Asian Canadian Studies Society. Her poems have appeared in anthologies such as Prismatic Publics: Innovative Canadian Women’s Poetry and Poetics, Regreen: New Canadian Ecological Poetry, Visions of British Columbia (published for an exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery), and Making a Difference: Canadian Multicultural Literature. In 2006 and 2008, she was a visiting lecturer in creative writing at the U. of Miami.

    • March 4th: USpeak
      Movietelling Night: Poets Redub Famous Films

      Multimedia performances by Nicole Hospital-Medina, Chris Joyner, Leah Silvieus, Christine Williamson. Electronic music by Eden Grey. Additional works by Vince Caruso and Marlon Unas Esguerra. Curated by Walter K. Lew.

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      One of the exciting directions poetry has taken over the last century is its integration into a wide variety of multimedia forms. “Movietelling” is one such genre and refers to the ways in which poets all around the world have provided live narration, impersonations, and sound effects for films they love (or love to hate). During the first decades of the 20th century, performers included the pop star-like Japanese benshi, Korean pyƏnsa, and German kinoerzähler. Current movietellers include the Gavrilov translators of Russia, VJs throughout East Africa, and certain US experimental poets. (The last group often shows the influence of the cult TV series Mystery Science Theater 3000.) These “poets of the dark"–as they were once described in Japan– move and entertain audiences by deepening the films’ emotional effect and layering in new meanings and humor, sometimes replacing the original script with their own scenario or improvisations. The effects range from spoofing insipid romances to inverting state propaganda into an outcry against the governments that produced it.

      Tonight, USpeak presents live movietelling pieces done by University of Miami students in poetry courses taught by Creative Writing professor Walter K. Lew, who has created, performed, and done research on movietelling since the early 1980s. It is just a small sample drawn from many brilliant student works, but will certainly be enough to delight the audience and pique its interest in this historically rich, diverse, and influential way of renewing poetry and its relation to the rest of society’s powerful mediascape.

    • March 11th: USpeak

      MFA Program Reading

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      First and second-year graduate students of the U. of Miami’s Creative Writing MFA program will present some of their finest work. This annual event is always filled with brilliance and delight. (Note: No open mic this evening.)

      MFA students Leah Silvieus, Lindsey Griffin, and Chris Joyner.

  • April 15th: USpeak
    Launch of the New Edition of Mangrove

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    Mangrove is the University of Miami’s undergraduate literary journal, publishing high-quality fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and art by current undergraduate students and recent alumni, from a variety of majors and schools. Sponsored by the Dept. of English and advised and managed by faculty and MFA students, Mangrove is edited and designed by an undergraduate staff. The journal includes annually an online edition in the fall and a print edition in the spring. Among the wide variety of work it publishes, Mangrove showcases the winners of its annual literary and art contests. This evening’s authors will help launch and celebrate the 2011 edition by reading selections published in Mangrove, complimentary copies of which will be available at the event.