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The President's Poet Came From The Paradise Of Poetry: South Florida

C. DiMattei

Poets are melancholy and morose, right?

“I’m so happy,” says a beaming 23-year-old Marci Calabretta of Hallandale Beach.

People who write poetry can’t relate to others, correct?

“I love people.  I adore people,” says 23-year-old Jose Villar of South Miami.

Most poetic souls are lonely and live in dusty attic rooms in ancient houses.

“I live in one of those over-55 ‘active’ communities,” laughs 64-year-old Adele Alexandre of Coconut Creek.

Calabretta, Villar and Alexandre are among the volunteers helping out at the 9th Annual Palm Beach Poetry Festival.  Most of the volunteers –called “interns” by the Festival staff – are themselves poets and poetry lovers.  And they defy all the stereotypes associated with the craft.

The Festival kicked off on Monday, just as Miami-raised Richard Blanco served as inaugural poet during President Obama’s swearing-in ceremony.  That South Florida’s landscape is fertile ground for poetic inspiration comes as no surprise to the Festival volunteers.

“I think that our climate and the transient nature of many of our inhabitants make it so there’s a lot of poetry happening,” says Villar.

Calabretta believes many poets are simply drawn to South Florida’s vibrancy and beauty.

“It’s a more laid-back community,” says Calabretta. “So you have more time to think about what you’re seeing and process that into art.”

The 9th Annual Palm Beach Poetry Festival
When: Monday through Saturday Jan. 21-26
Where: Crest Theatre at Delray Center for the Arts, Old School Square, 51 N. Swinton Ave., Delray Beach.
Evening readings and performances, afternoon talks and panel discussions are open to the public. Individual event ticket prices are $15 General Admission, $12 for seniors, $10 for students.

Christine DiMattei is WLRN's Morning Edition anchor and also reports on Arts & Culture.
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