Miami’s literary scene is nowhere near the ranks of Dublin, New York, or Edinburgh, but it has certainly raked up points in the past decade alone. The contributions of Latin American authors, the addition of massive cultural projects, and the creation of festivals that draw thousands of artists certainly helped fueled the city that was once lacking in literary culture. If you’re a writer in Miami, you’ll be glad to know that there are now plenty of spaces and opportunities in and around the city to find good reads, hone your craft, mingle with peers, and escape for solitude.
Here’s where you can start.
Finding Good Reads
The bookshop that originated in Coral Gables now has four locations and has become somewhat of a Miami institution. The original shop has a nice central courtyard perfect for scanning through books you just bought or are thinking of buying. Though each location specializes in different genres, all of them play host to at least one book event daily. Books & Books also has literary roots. Most of the members of staff are writers themselves and its owner, Mitchell “Mitch” Kaplan was the founder of the Miami Book Fair.
Another great place to buy books is Libreria & Distribuidora Universal, located in the same building as Ediciones Universal, the leading publisher for Cuban ex-pats. This Spanish language bookstore sits in Miami’s Little Havana and specializes in literary works. Those seeking rare works by Latin American authors like García Márquez, Neruda and Llosa will likely find them here.
Where to Hone Your Craft
O, Miami, formerly known as the University of Wynwood, is a Knight-funded organization that promotes and enhances the literary culture in Miami. It produces events involving writers, poets, and publishers and sponsors the annual poetry festival also called “O, Miami.” The organization started by local poets has also established partnerships with local and national organizations that include news publications like The Miami Herald and literary groups such as the Poetry Society of America.
Every year in May, Miami Dade College sponsors The Writers Institute, a four-day writing conference that invites well-known published authors to teach writing courses and give talks about life as a writer. Publishers and literary agents also make appearances and provide insights on what it takes to get published. Registration fees are nominal and the conference occurs at Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Campus, which is located in the heart of downtown Miami.
Mixing and Mingling With Peers
The best place for published writers, aspiring writers, and book lovers to network is during the Miami Book Fair International. It’s one of the country’s biggest literary festivals and occurs every year in November. Hundreds of authors from around the world set up booths on the streets and host their own reading and discussion sessions. Almost every book genre is represented including children’s illustration, graphic novels, and arts and crafts.
Art Basel Miami Beach might be an art fair first but the interest it generates definitely draws other groups to host their own umbrella festivals during that same time period. Literary fairs that appear in conjunction with Art Basel include pop-up bookstores and local zines. However, expect the focus of these literary events to be on art-related books and publication.
The Book Lover’s Solitude
Luna Star Café in North Miami is not your average café by any means. To begin with it’s only open from 4 p.m. onwards. Its beverage of choice is beer, offering patrons with over 100 choices in bottles alone, but perhaps its most endearing quality for writers is its intimate size that’s perfect for reading. You’ll likely encounter a book club meet or walk into an open mike night if you decide to stop by.
It might be dark, grimy, and loud at times, but Churchill’s Pub has been a popular hangout for young artists in Miami. It’s likely the cheap drinks, the great sound system, and the casual vibe that makes this pub a favorite for writers to unwind. Different local bands play tunes every night and on occasion, the pub also hosts open mike nights.