Last year, after Nakanishi came up with the idea for Sunroom, she submitted it to the annual poetry festival O, Miami. She hoped to provide students like Jane with the opportunity to explore their creativity and intellect. And indeed she won a residency to get the project started.
O, Miami was created by former New Times writer and editor P. Scott Cunningham in 2011. Its mission: Allow every single person in Miami-Dade County to encounter a poem in April, National Poetry Month. This year, the festival will present events and projects for 30 days. Among them are Shadows of Home, where New World Symphony fellow Hannah Nicholas will create new works based on poems for an intimate crowd, and Current, a guided underwater poetry meditation experience at the Standard Hotel led by artist Jillian Mayer.
The Sunroom is one of the projects O, Miami chose to produce in perpetuity. The program employs a professional poet to instruct children as they transition from third to fourth grade at two Liberty City schools. It has become a permanent fixture in the community and has expanded to include a detention center. So far, Nakanishi has held all five residencies, which is like teaching five semesters. She’s training two new poets to take her place at Orchard Villa and Poinciana Park elementary schools.