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[VIRTUAL] Strange Paradise: Four South Florida Poets on Influence & Belonging

Join us for the kickoff event of the PEN America Miami/South Florida chapter! In celebration of our chosen home and National Poetry Month, four poets with roots in South Florida will read from their most recent works and discuss how the region’s landscape, languages, and cultural identities appear in their writing and community work.

South Florida is a vast region of the United States, characterized by its distinct tropical climate, thriving arts culture, year-round tourism industry, and headline-grabbing “Florida Man” stories. But there’s more to the area than sunshine, alligators, and memeable subcultures. What about South Florida’s unique transnational connections? The histories of people whose defiance, resistance, and community building shaped the region as it stands today?

This reading and conversation centers the intersectionality of the region’s diverse peoples to gain a better understanding of how we can relate to our environments and envision a more equitable and just future for the place we call home.

Moderated by co-chapter leaders Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello and Leslie Sainz.


Jubi Arriola-Headley headshotJubi Arriola-Headley (he/him or they/them) is a Blacqueer poet, storyteller, and first-generation United Statesian who lives with his husband in South Florida and whose work explores themes of manhood, vulnerability, rage, tenderness, and joy. Arriola-Headley is a 2018 PEN America Emerging Voices Fellow, holds an MFA from the University of Miami, and has had poems published in Ambit, Beloit Poetry Journal, Literary Hub, Nimrod, Southern Humanities Review, The Nervous Breakdown, and elsewhere. His debut collection of poems, original kink, is available now from Sibling Rivalry Press.

Roy G. Guzman headshotRoy G. Guzmán (they/them) was born in Tegucigalpa, Honduras and grew up in Miami, FL. Their debut collection, Catrachos, was published by Graywolf Press in 2020 and is a current finalist for the Minnesota Book Award for Poetry as well as a finalist for the 2021 Kate Tufts Poetry Award at Claremont Graduate University. Guzmán is a 2019 National Endowment for the Arts fellow and a 2017 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg poetry fellow. They are currently pursuing a Ph.D. in comparative studies in discourse and society from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Twitter: @catrachxs

Sam(ira) Obeid headshotSam(ira) Obeid is a masculine performing, Indian lesbian raised Hindu on her mother’s side and Muslim on her father’s side. She moved to the United States in 2007, where she earned a second and third master’s degrees in multimedia journalism and gender studies, respectively. An activist, poet, and educator, she has placed fifth at the Women of the World Poetry Slam in 2015; been featured at Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Bowery Poetry, and Busboys and Poets; and given keynote speeches at institutions like the University of South Florida around the experience of being forced to leave the United States in 2018. Her work has also been featured on Button Poetry and an international anthology, The World That Belongs to Us: An Anthology of Queer Poetry from South Asia (HarperCollins India).

Flower Conroy headshot

LGBTQ+ writer, NEA Fellow, and former Key West Poet Laureate Flower Conroy’s first full-length manuscript, Snake Breaking Medusa Disorder, was chosen as the winner of the Stevens Manuscript Competition. Her second collection, A Sentimental Hairpin, is forthcoming from Tolsun Books. Her poetry will or has appeared in The American Poetry Review, New England Review, Prairie Schooner, Michigan Quarterly Review, and others.

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Belarusian protesters in background; on top: “I Support PEN Belarus” and PEN America logo

Our sister organization PEN Belarus has spent years uplifting writers and supporting the freedom to write. Now, the government is trying to shut them down. Show your support and tell them they’re not alone.