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Sundial

Juneteenth poetry, Frost Chopin Festival, Wildlife Thursday: Iguanas

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MATIAS J. OCNER
/
Miami Herald
Brian Wood holds an iguana he caught near The Danians Condo in Dania Beach, Florida on Monday, October 28, 2019.

A spoken word, poetry and music festival to commemorate Juneteenth. Plus, a celebration of Chopin. And iguanas are a nuisance in South Florida — we meet a man attempting to minimize the invasive species.

On this Thursday, June 16, edition of Sundial:

Juneteenth poetry 

As we near Juneteenth, we continue to hear reflections from those in South Florida’s Black community.

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For some, it’s a celebration of the day — June 19, 1865 — when news of freedom finally reached enslaved people in some of the deepest parts of the South.

For others, it’s a reminder that the news arrived more than two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Also, a difficult reminder of a history that has been ‘muddled.’

For many, it’s a mix of both.

Mello Fest, happening in Dania Beach on Saturday, is observing that historic day with music and poetry.

Bertrand Boyd is one of the artists performing at the festival. He is a writer, poet and actor.

“My grandmother and my father were very big in making sure that [we] were well aware about history … This history is really embedded in my blood, to be honest with you. So I was always aware of it. The surprise, actually, for me, really, was it being a holiday. I wasn't believing that it would occur, that it would happen. But actually, to see it to be a holiday, it was definitely surprising,” said Boyd on Sundial.

Frost Chopin Festival
People attend Juneteenth celebrations in the Harlem neighborhood of New York, on June 19, 2021.

Frost Chopin Festival 

Frédéric Chopin is known as one of the leading musicians of his era. Some might even think of him as a rock star of the 1800s. The Polish composer and pianist was a child prodigy; by age 7, he had already begun performing public concerts.

The romantic sounds that he composed on the piano all those years ago have influenced music to this day.

The Frost Chopin Academy and Festival hosts free concerts and workshops, both open to the public, starting this Sunday in South Florida.

Kevin Kenner teaches piano at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami. He is the artistic director and founder of the festival, and he joined Sundial to discuss why he believes Chopin's music from years past can unify people in today's divisive society.

Madison Yan, a Chopin Foundation scholarship recipient, is a Frost student participating in the festival. She also joined the program and shared the story of playing Chopin's Nocturne No. 21 in C minor at age 8, which really put her on a path to be passionate about classical music and piano.

The festival runs through Sunday, June 26.

Frost Chopin Festival
Piano keys

Wildlife Thursday: Iguanas

They fall from our trees and crawl out of our toilets. For this Wildlife Thursday conversation, we’re talking about iguanas.

Iguanas are an invasive species that are expanding throughout Florida and causing a lot of problems.

According to state officials, the first iguanas spotted in the state were found back in the 60s in Hialeah, Coral Gables and Key Biscayne.

Iguanas are eating our native species and vegetation, which harms the balance in our ecosystem.

Manny Hernandez is a local iguana catcher. He joined Sundial to discuss his efforts to minimize the species and share some tips for anyone who may encounter these prehistoric-looking creatures.

Wildlife Thursday: iguanas
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Leslie Ovalle Atkinson is the lead producer behind WLRN's daily magazine program, Sundial. She previously produced Morning Edition newscasts at WLRN and anchored the midday news. As a multimedia producer, she also works on visual and digital storytelling.
Caitie Muñoz, formerly Switalski, currently leads the WLRN Newsroom as Interim Managing Editor. Prior to transitioning to leadership from production, Caitie reported on news and stories concerning quality of life in Broward County and its municipalities for WLRN News for four years.