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The Go Guide Places, people and life with Ben Crandell

Weekend preview: Practicing freedom with Vic Mensa, Ntozake Shange

The inaugural Maroon Poetry Festival will make several bold statements with its opening in Miami on Saturday, not the least of which is an impressive lineup that ranges from revered writers Ntozake Shange and Sonia Sanchez to socially aware rapper Vic Mensa.

The free festival is the fruit of Voices: Poetry for the People, a collaborative project based on a series of workshops led by Miami-based poet Aja Monet that delved into gun violence in communities and schools and a legal system stacked with structural racism. Monet and her Smoke Signals Studio in Little Haiti created the Maroon Poetry Festival, partially funded by a Knight Foundation grant, with social-justice organizations Community Justice Project and Dream Defenders.

The festival, which takes place on the grounds of Liberty City’s historic Belafonte Tacolcy Center, opens at 10 a.m. with yoga and a DJ, followed by local poets and a performance by Chicago soul singer Jamila Woods.

Taking its name from the historic term “maroon” applied to escaped slaves in America, the festival also will feature a conversation between Mensa and longtime Black Panther Party graphic artist Emory Douglas, and readings by Shange, best known for the play “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Is Enuf,” American Book Award winner Sanchez, and Harlem icons the Last Poets, the forefathers of hip-hop.

Yet perhaps the most important statement the Maroon Poetry Festival makes is about what it isn’t.

Seeking to counter the incessant drumbeat of doom from the media and politicians, Monet says she wants the festival to be a reminder to both visitors and residents of what Liberty City and similar communities can be.

“There’s a lot more to our communities than what has gone wrong,” Monet says.

The Tacolcy grounds will be a stress-free zone, she says, with a people’s market, a section for kids, an array of hammocks to stretch out on and a tree filled with poetry.

“One of the biggest things that these times have taken from us is our imagination and our ability to see a time outside of this time, and to be aware that we aren’t the first to suffer, we aren’t the first to cry, we aren’t the first to resist, we aren’t the first to love, we aren’t the first to live,” Monet says. “A big thing that we are trying to do with this festival is to practice freedom, practice what it looks like to do the very things that we are fighting for.”

She says the festival is “less about what we’re against and more about what we’re for and what we want to envision in our communities. We have to take ownership of the spaces that we have and what we want to see. It’s so important now, more than any other time.”

The Maroon Poetry Festival will take place 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Belafonte Tacolcy Center, 6161 NW Ninth Ave. Admission is free, with registration at MaroonPoetryFest.com. There is a suggested $25 donation.

Monet expects a lot of letting down of hair during a free after party at Smoke Signals Studio from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., with sets from DJ Rich Medina and Arthur Baker, live music, a bar and poetry from locals and who knows who? RSVP at SmokeSignalstudio@gmail.com.

SWING HIGH, AND DIPLO

DJ Irie’s 14th annual Irie Weekend fundraiser begins on Friday at Topgolf Miami Gardens, highlighted by the Celebrity Topgolf Tournament at 1 p.m and the 7 p.m. Topgolf Concert on the Green, featuring Ludacris. Concerts tickets start at $50. On Saturday, the action is at E11even Miami for a performance by Diplo, with tickets $40 for women, $60 for men. Visit IrieWeekend.com.

HOLIDAY MOVIE

What “It’s a Wonderful Life” is to Christmas, the heart-warming favorite “Jaws” is to the Fourth of July. Silverspot Cinema in Coconut Creek will revive the story of Quint and his faithful, finned companion at 2:30 and 7 p.m. Sunday and Wednesday. Tickets cost $11.98 (2:30 p.m.) and $14.80 (7 p.m.), with discounts for kids, students and seniors. Visit Silverspot.net.

YOUR TOWNSHIP HAS COME IN

We’re not going to say anything to the people up north, but the Restaurant People opened Township, a fast-casual dining room and beer hall, in Tallahassee a couple of years ago merely as a warm-up for the signature location opening Friday across from the NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale. Next door to TRP Taste and the buzzy Rooftop, the more communal Township is another TRP space on the ground floor of what is destined to be one of the hot areas of downtown, as the corpse of Riverfront gives way to a massive retail-residential project. Township’s opening-day happy hour on Friday will begin with free .3 liter steins of beer (math is hard: that’s about 10 ounces) 4-5 p.m. and two-for-one drinks until 7 p.m. Visit Facebook.com/TownshipFTL).

DOGS IN THE SKY

From the It Was Just A Matter Of Time Dept. comes Saturday’s opening of Wooftop Park, the rooftop dog park at the Hyatt Centric South Beach Miami (1600 Collins). The 11 a.m.- 3p.m. opening coincides with the debut of a new brunch menu that includes a “woofé” (or buffet) for your four-legged date. Perhaps more importantly, the bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys are $15. Visit Facebook.com/HyattCentricSouthBeachMiami.

TWO COMEDIANS

They are unrelated in so many ways. Jodi Miller is a longtime standup (“American’s Got Talent,” “The Tonight Show,” Comedy Central, four troop tours in Afghanistan) who also writes informative self-help guides with titles such as “OMG! Guys: How To Survive 101 of the Most F'ed Dating Situations.” Jodi Miller performs 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Hyatt Place Delray Beach (tickets: $20-$30) and 8 p.m. Saturday at the Mizner Park Cultural Arts Center in Boca Raton (tickets: $20-$40). Visit Facebook.com/ComicCure. … Meanwhile, there is T.J. Miller, formerly of “Silicon Valley” and currently on the large screen in “Deadpool 2” (as Weasel), who is down for sets at the Palm Beach Improv Friday-Saturday. But can you go without factoring in the sexual assault allegations that reportedly got him booted from the “Deadpool” franchise, much less the bizarre April arrest for calling in a fake bomb threat? You can’t. Visit PalmBeachImprov.com.

WEEKEND BEERS

World of Beer in Coconut Creek on Thursday (June 28) will use an Ommegang Tap Takeover as fuel for a trivia night called Fire Cannot Kill A Quizmaster: A Game of Thrones Quiz beginning at 7 p.m. (Facebook.com/WOBCoconutCreek) … On Saturday afternoon the Fort Lauderdale Brewery Crawl, led by Fuddled Frog Tours, will bus you and 50+ new friends from the Funky Buddha in Oakland Park to Tarpon River Brewing and LauderAle. The $60 ticket (sold online only) gets you two beers (and tip) at each stop, and the bus is BYOB. It gets rolling at 1:30 p.m. from the Funky Buddha (Facebook.com/FuddledFrogTours) … There will be free samplings of local craft beers and soul food at the fifth annual BBQ, Brews & Blues Festival, 5-9 p.m. Sunday in the Historic Northwest District in West Palm Beach. The free event, reachable via free shuttles from downtown West Palm Beach, includes music from the Ghost Town Blues Band (from Memphis), Catch the Groove and the dynamic Slam Allen (Facebook.com/WPBHistoricNorthwest).

FREE COOKOUT

The music-loving scene shapers at Brotherly Love Productions will resurrect Rockout With Your Cookout 8 p.m. Sunday at Hurricane Bar & Lounge in Delray Beach with contributions from members of the Heavy Pets, Guavatron, Fugu, Franscene and others. The barbecue is free for bar patrons 6-8 p.m., and the music is free for all 8-11 p.m. Visit Facebook.com/BrotherlyLoveProductions.

SMASH UP

Local rockers the State Of will provide part of the soundtrack for Let’s SMASH, a Friday-night drag-show benefit to raise money to create Miami’s first LGBTQ-centered shelter and transitional housing facility. Hosted by the dashing Hialeah drag duo Juleisy y Karla, the event is at 8 p.m. at the Lemon City Day School in Little Haiti. SMASH is an acronym for the anti-gentrification group Struggle for Miami's Affordable and Sustainable Housing, Inc. Tickets to Let’s SMASH cost $20-$30. Visit SmashTheSlumlords.org.

FIREWORKS TIPS

NoBo Brewing in Boynton Beach happens to have a fine view of the city fireworks display on Independence Day, when they will release a beer called Red, White & Boom, a Russian Imperial Stout (wink?) aged on cinnamon whiskey oak, which you can pair with a plate from Pigsty BBQ (Facebook.com/NoBoBrewing) … If you are headed to watch fireworks off the beach in Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday, know that the Water Taxi will offer a discount express shuttle between its downtown New River stop by the Briny (4 W. Las Olas Blvd.) and the beach for $5 (seniors $2) beginning at 10 a.m. The last boat to the beach will leave the Briny at 8 p.m. and the last boat returning to the Briny leaves the beach at 11 p.m. Visit WaterTaxi.com.

GET TO NOMI

Cuban trombonist Julio Montalvo performs the Jazz at MoCA series at the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami beginning at 8 p.m. Friday. But from 6-8 p.m. the plaza will be the setting for a celebration hosted by the North Miami Community Redevelopment Agency as a showcase for the new vibe being created in the area, a rebranding that uses the slogan “To NoMi Is to Love Me.” The party will include music, free taste samples from downtown NoMi businesses and a groundbreaking for the upcoming MOCA Plaza renovation project. Visit MoCANoMi.org.

WEEKEND NOSTALGIA

You can still get tickets (starting at $49.50) for Boy George and Culture Club, with the B-52s and the Thompson Twins' Tom Bailey, 6:30 p.m. Sunday at the Pompano Beach Amphitheater (TheAmpPompano.org) … A handful of tickets ($50+) on the upper edges of the house remain for Poison and Cheap Trick at the Hard Rock Event Center in Hollywood 7 p.m. Sunday (MyHRL.com) … The hard-rock nostalgia of Slow Burn Theatre’s “Rock of Ages” (which South Florida Sun Sentinel critic Christine Dolen called “a delicious, ferociously sung and danced spoof”) concludes its run at the Broward Center this weekend with scattered tickets ($47+) remaining for performances through Sunday (BrowardCenter.org).

LOCAL VOICES

Guavatron funks up the Friday Night Sound Waves series on Fort Lauderdale beach 6 p.m. Friday (Guavatron.Bandcamp.com) … The Zach Bartholomew Quartet will perform new originals at the Arts Garage in Delray Beach 8 p.m. Friday (ZBTrio.com) … SpiderCherry rocks the Dubliner in Boca Raton 10 p.m. Friday (SpiderCherry.com) … Steeltown Religion plays Silverball Pinball Museum in Delray Beach 10 p.m. Friday (SteeltownReligion.com) … Dolly and the Boys and DES play the Station Music Fest at Elizabeth Avenue Station in West Palm Beach 4-11 p.m. Saturday (Facebook.com/TheStationWPB) … Billy Livesay and Cuqui Berrios of the Livesays return to Bogart’s in downtown Hollywood 7 p.m. Saturday (TheLivesaysMusic.com) … Vocalist and violinist Nicole Yarling performs 9 p.m. Saturday at NYSW Jazz Lounge in Fort Lauderdale (Facebook.com/Nicole.Yarling) … The great Nil Lara is at Bar Nancy in Little Havana 10 p.m. Saturday (Facebook.com/NilLara) … Singer-songwriter Sarah Packiam will have music from an imminent album, “Brave,” during a brunch set at the lovely Tree of Life inside Faena Miami Beach noon Sunday (Facebook.com/SarahPackiam) … Ella Herrera plays the weekly Singer Songwriter Series at the West Palm Brewery & Wine Vault in West Palm Beach 1-4 p.m. Sunday (Facebook.com/WPBrewery).

bcrandell@sun-sentinel.com

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