Member Spotlight: SWWIM

We caught up with Catherine Esposito Prescott and Jen Karetnick, cofounders of SWWIM, in our latest Member Spotlight.


SWWIM Miami, FL Est. 2016 Abbreviation of: Supporting Women Writers in Miami About: “sustains and celebrates women poets by connecting creatives across generations and by curating a living archive of contemporary poetry, while solidifying Miami as a nexus for the literary arts” Publication frequency: Daily Residency location: The Betsy-South Beach CLMP Member Since 2021What is the history behind SWWIM? When was it founded and what is its mission?

We met at a Miami Book Fair reading in 2005. Catherine had her baby son, Austen, with her in a sling, and Jen’s two young children were in the audience (although a little squirmy until the candy came out). After noting that yes, it was unusual to see working-women poets with children, we decided that Miami needed a platform dedicated to bringing women poets, with or without kids, together. It took us a few years while our children grew up and we had other responsibilities, but eventually we came up with a plan. We reached out to Deborah Plutzik Briggs, vice president of arts and community engagement at The Betsy-South Beach, who enthusiastically agreed that The Betsy Hotel—a literary and creative hub in South Florida—should be the home for this new endeavor. Thus, in November 2016, the SWWIM Residency and Reading Series at The Betsy-South Beach was born.

The following year, we expanded our efforts to support women writers in Miami and beyond with the publication SWWIM Every Day, the only online, daily poetry journal dedicated to publishing the work of women writers. (Note that we use a gender-expansive definition of woman, including trans, non-binary, and intersex.) SWWIM’s mission is to sustain and celebrate women poets by connecting creatives across generations and by curating a living archive of contemporary poetry, while solidifying Miami as a nexus for the literary arts.


What are some of the ways you support women-identifying writers in Miami and beyond?

We support women writers via the two main branches of our organization—the SWWIM Residency and Reading Series at The Betsy-South Beach and the online poetry journal SWWIM Every Day—both of which are dedicated to showcasing the work of women poets. In addition, we partner with the University of Miami’s Creative Writing Department to cross-promote visiting and local women writers and to offer internship opportunities to woman-identifying graduate students with an interest in literary nonprofit work.

Beyond this, we partner with local arts organizations like O, Miami to create local activations aimed at engaging young audiences with poetry, such as our upcoming Poetry Treasure Hunt along Miami’s historic Commodore Trail during April’s O, Miami Poetry Festival. In addition, we collaborate with the Office of Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine-Cava in its efforts to increase access to poetry and the literary arts for all Miamians. Other key community partners include the Miami Book Fair—we publish the work of visiting and local women poets on our platforms during the fair in November—and Books & Books, Miami’s extraordinary independent bookstore.


Can you share some of the rewards and challenges of publishing a new poem every day?

Swwim logo with white text in a black ink splatterThe rewards that come with publishing a new poem every day are many. It’s a particular delight to publish work by an emerging woman poet; we are always thrilled to “discover” new voices of every age and background. We also love to champion our writers beyond their publication with us via our Weekly Spotlight, where we acknowledge their latest awards and publications. We also nominate our writers for awards like Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. It’s a particular thrill when contributing editors from the Pushcart Board notice our poets and nominate their work as well; this year we received three such nominations.

The challenges, of course, come from the scale of the task—to curate a consistently excellent journal, showcasing the best work by today’s emerging and established women poets, on a daily basis. We are an all-volunteer staff of readers and editors—Caridad Moro Gronlier, Alexandra Lytton Regalado, and Mary Block—who take great pride in what we do at SWWIM Every Day. It truly is a labor of love.


What are other Florida-based literary journals, presses, events, and organizations you admire?

We could spend hours, and pages, answering this question! Florida is a vast state with so many fantastic literary organizations and communities, so we’ll highlight just a few in our own region of South Florida. We’ve already mentioned some terrific organizations, like the University of Miami’s Creative Writing Department; O, Miami; the Miami Book Fair; the office of Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine-Cava and her Poetry Ambassador, Nicole Tallman; Books & Books; and of course, our patron and home, The Betsy-South Beach. Other superstars include our friends at Performance Poets of the Palm Beaches; South Florida Poetry Journal (SoFloPoJo); and Florida International University’s outstanding creative writing program, led by Campbell McGrath, where poets and writers Denise Duhamel and Julie Marie Wade are professors.


Can you tell us more about SWWIM’s year-round reading series at Miami Beach’s The Betsy–South Beach?

We receive applications for the SWWIM Residency and Reading Series in the summer. The talent and diversity of our applicant pool astounds us every year; we have a near-impossible task in narrowing it down to seven or eight finalists. Those finalists are notified in the fall, and we work with them to confirm the dates of their residency. We host one resident a month, from October to May. Our residents spend four days and three nights in The Betsy’s famed Writer’s Room, and receive a daily stipend for use at the hotel’s excellent restaurants and bars. While on Miami Beach, SWWIM residents are free to spend their time as they choose—working on an established project or coming up with new ideas; holed up in the Writer’s Room or strolling and people-watching on South Beach. During their stay, residents will participate in an informal Meet the Artist chat with one of the SWWIM editors as well as a poetry reading, where they will be paired with a local writer. Both events are streamed from The Betsy across SWWIM’s social media platforms.


How can interested writers submit their poetry to SWWIM Every Day?

SWWIM Every Day is open to submissions year-round. Via Submittable, please send one to three previously unpublished poems of any form or style, including visual poetry, in a single file titled LASTNAME_FIRSTNAME, along with a third-person, 75-word bio. For writers in need of a quick response, we offer an expedited submission option; we’re also happy to offer a Poetry with Feedback submission option, through which SWWIM Every Day editors will provide comprehensive notes about your work. Learn more about submitting to SWWIM Every Day here!