Supporting Women Writers in Miami, or SWWIM, is an organization cofounded by two magically talented and energetic women writers, Jen Karetnick and Catherine Prescott. I didn’t fully appreciate all they do in their community (and beyond it) when I first started sending work to SWIMM Every Day, their daily online poetry journal. In fact, the journal was an offshoot of the group’s broad commitment to women and the arts, particularly the literary arts.
SWWIM publishes, promotes, and celebrates women writers, trans and cis women, nonbinary, intersex, and other gender-expansive communities, with a year-round reading series held at The Betsy-South Beach in Miami Beach, Florida, as well as via SWWIM Every Day, their online journal. I’ve been fortunate to have had several poems published in SWWIM Every Day over the years and follow Jen and Cat’s successes and adventures with great admiration and respect. That said, I was completely taken off guard when they asked if I might consider heading down to Miami on March 30 to read along with Chet’la Sebree, who’ll be the Betsy’s writer-in-residence at the time. (Chet’la’s stay was actually part of a residency sponsored by the Betsy and the Academy of American Poets, which supports the Laughlin Prize, which Chet’la won in 2021 for her book, Field Study, so it was not part of the ongoing SWWIM/Betsy reading series but nonetheless one SWWIM was asked to help with, and gladly did.) Although usually they choose a local poet to round out their readings, they paid me the compliment of considering me local anyway (!) and after pondering whether I might be able to carve out time away from my job to make the quick trip during the week, I decided that I had to do it.
I’m not there yet…a few days out…but I’ve had a little time now to think about what I might read (and take in my little carry-on suitcase) and am really looking forward to it, for so many reasons. My mother grew up in Miami, and I visited my grandparents there plenty of times when I was younger, although I have only been back a handful of times since then, and mostly for work. With my mom having passed away in January, it will be especially poignant for me to be able to spend time there, walk the beach, and breathe in the environment that was a key part of my mother’s upbringing.
The reading will be streamed live on SWWIM’s Facebook and Instagram pages. I hope some of you can listen, (or listen later, if you miss it!)