Official tote bag of the 2016 O, Miami poetry festival, quoting Cherry Pickman's poem “How to Greet the Spring.” This poem was also quoted in the Mail section of the New Yorker in January 2016:

Residents of South Florida in the era of rising sea levels face a daunting array of climatological, infrastructural, and political problems. Kolbert’s article vividly enumerates these challenges, and makes clear that underlying each of them is a collective failure of imagination on the part of the real-estate developers, politicians, and citizens who keep building on the waterfront and paving over the wetland with little concern for the long-term, or even the medium-term, viability of the land. But it was disheartening to read that Bruce Mowry, Miami Beach’s city engineer, said, “If we had poets, they’d be writing about the swallowing of Miami Beach by the sea.” In fact, there are many writers and poets in South Florida; they are the engineers of imagination. One of them, Cherry Pickman, writes, in “How to Greet the Spring,” a new work, “The sun was out / the flood came anyway the sea rose / to take the city plinth by plinth amaranth bled red / into twitching schools of silver / buttonwoods to think.” I hope that Mowry and others will find the poetry of South Florida, and use it to reflect on our predicament.

Tim Watson
University of Miami
Coral Gables, Fla.


How to Greet the Spring

The sun was out
              the flood came anyway           the sea rose
to take the city plinth by plinth             amaranth bled red
              into twitching schools of silver
buttonwoods to think                what you could have given
              up          here even the gulls        are starving the fishermen
are fighting all the waters of the world
              are troubled       and suspect the Little River the little
god in you who lets you              go on each day
is out                of its depth out of darkness
              you reel in dented cans          they empty
through rusted stars as the world     warms
              and the rooftops clamber
for higher           and higher ground