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This Miami Life

The Poetry of I-95 and 26-Inch Rims

Richard Fendelman

Hundreds of Miami-Dade middle and high school students listened to “Two Pianos” by Morton Gould. Afterwards, they wrote poems inspired by the music.  It was part of a contest called the Piano Slam.  The point is to inspire young people, using classical music, to create their own forms of artistic expression.

Seventeen kids were chosen as winners, out of 1,500 entries. They perform tonight (Thursday, May 24) at the Adrienne Arsht center as part of Piano Slam 4,  a classical/hip hop mash up performance with DJ Brimstone 127, Thomas Armour Youth Ballet and piano duo Van Veen. It’s all directed by Miami director, actor and writer Teo Castellanos.

The event is free, but tickets are required and they usually go fast.

Miami Herald arts writer, Jordan Levin, hung out during a rehearsal performance.  She spoke with Shakur Butler and Katherine Beltres, two winners of the Piano Slam. The students spoke of the cross-pollinated inspiration they got from piano music, heavy bass beats and the people in their city.

Shakur Butler reads his poetry below.

Behold the flow of the city/ as it brings with it a descrescendo to all the voices around me/As the bass stays present, the bass of a heartbeat, the bass of the Chevy cars that roll by sitting on 26-inch rims…


Katherine Beltres reads her poetry below.

New milennium or Jurassic, here we all love the classic pianos that believe white and black belong side by side/and not forgetting my ethinicity of the boom-bam-slide of the merengue ride/bachata invading the streets/trafficking hip hop on every corner…