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Write a poem about your Miami neighborhood and it could land your work on a billboard

Submit your Zip Ode by March 22, 2023 and your poem could be featured on a billboard downtown, right across the street from the Miami Heat's arena.
Submit your Zip Ode by March 22, 2023 and your poem could be featured on a billboard downtown, right across the street from the Miami Heat's arena.

Has your work ever been published? How about being published on a billboard in downtown Miami? Now’s your chance — thanks to a campaign by the annual poetry festival O, Miami and WLRN.

Residents have until March 22 to submit their very own Zip Ode — a place-based poem inspired by their zip code. It’s an original art form that was invented by O, Miami and WLRN to inspire South Floridians to use language to rave about — or roast — the vibrant, unpredictable, unforgettable place they call home.

O, Miami’s founder, Scott Cunningham says during the very first year of the poetry festival, residents were asked to write odes to LeBron James, then a recent arrival to the Miami Heat after he left the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“Half of the poems were from Cleveland and they were not friendly,” Cunningham said. “But the other half were from Miami and they were beautiful.”

This year, a winning Zip Ode will be plastered on a billboard outside the arena where the Heat play in downtown Miami during the month of April, for thousands of people to see. Cunningham kicked off the campaign on Wednesday during an event near the billboard at the corner of NE 8th Street and Biscayne Boulevard.

“Send us your best Zip Odes that are about where you live and that rhapsodize the places about Miami that you love, that annoy you, that drive you crazy, that keep you here, that make you want to leave,” Cunningham said. “Whatever emotions you have about the place that you live, we want to hear them in the form of your zip code.”

Carlos Frias, the host of WLRN’s midday arts and culture interview show Sundial, wrote a poem about life in his zip code of 33134, which covers Coral Gables and parts of the city of Miami. He read the poem at Wednesday's launch.

“See the chicken in that bag?” Frias said. “Santeria. Don’t touch it! Miami has its rules.”

At the launch, artist Theresa Marie Calluori used her Zip Ode to guilt-trip a friend in Coconut Grove who refuses to make the trek to visit her in West Kendall — zip code 33183.

“Too, too far! Too, too far!” Calluori said. “Far! West Kendall is too far to visit you. You come here!”

According to WLRN’s Vice President for News Sergio Bustos, O, Miami has already received 200 Zip Ode submissions for the billboard — which currently reads, [Your poem here].

This year, for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, O, Miami and WLRN will host an in-person Zip Ode finale, where selected poets will be able to read their work in front of a live audience at the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens.

“At the end of the day, at WLRN we are storytellers. And I can’t think of any event that fits storytelling more than this event with O, Miami,” Bustos said.

For more information and instructions on how to submit a Zip Ode, go to omiami.org.


What: Ode to Your Zip Code Finale Reading presented by O, Miami and WLRN

Where: Vizcaya Museum & Gardens

When: April 26, 2023 6 - 9 pm

Kate Payne is WLRN's Education Reporter. Reach her at kpayne@wlrnnews.org
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