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Poetry Community Comes Together for Change
by Barbara Cole
This Saturday at Silo City, Buffalo joins 100,000 Poets & Artists for Change
On Saturday, September 28, the poetry community of Western New York will come together as part of 100,000 Poets & Artists for Change. More than 125 poets on two stages are scheduled to read during the all-day event at Buffalo’s hottest “new” old venue known as Silo City, or the Perot Grain Elevator, along the riverfront. The list of participating poets comprises a veritable Who’s Who of Western New York’s literary arts scene, including everyone from Buffalo’s own Pulitzer Prize winning poet, Carl Dennis, to students from City Honors, Oracle Charter School, and Amherst High School.
Long-time leaders within the local poetry community such as Ansie Baird, Michael Basinski, Jorge Guitart, Sherry Robbins, and Celia White are scheduled to read alongside spoken word stand-outs Erika Gault, Ntare Gault, Brandon Williamson, and Janna Willoughby-Lohr. Creative writing faculty and students alike from local colleges and universities will be representing the University at Buffalo, Buffalo State, Canisius, ECC, Medaille, NCCC, and Villa Maria. Writers published by local presses BlazeVox Books and Troll Thread as well as the Buffalo-based journal, Earth’s Daughters, will also read. David Landrey, who coordinated the first 100,000 Poets for Change event in Buffalo in 2011, will kick off the event.
The intersections of so many poets with such diverse literary styles might seem commonplace. One might presume that the specialized nature of the poetry community means that it is small and therefore fairly unified. After all, a poet is a poet is a poet, no? Hardly. In fact, it’s quite rare if not inconceivable to think of a single reading that could attract such a broad range of poetic sensibilities. It is a testament to Buffalo’s literary scene that such divergent aesthetics can flourish within a region that is too often bemoaned for its dwindling population. Even more, this convergence proves that the driving theme at the heart of this event—change—is already underway right here, right now.
Organized by Just Buffalo Literary Center in collaboration with a team of curators that includes Jennifer Campbell, Perry Nicholas, and ryki zuckerman as well as Squeaky Wheel, the Buffalo & Erie County Public Libraries System and the Poetry Collection at UB, this local event is part of a much larger global movement. On this same day, poets from cities all over the world will be hosting similar events in the name of social, political, and environmental change. And, even this event has participants such as John Roche traveling from Rochester for the chance to read from within Buffalo’s soaring grain elevators.
For everyone else inspired by the theme of change or excited to get involved regardless of whether or not they think of themselves as poets, there’s room for more voices and visions. Anyone in Buffalo or beyond can capture their vision of change on Instagram or Vine—a free app which allows users to create simple seven-second looping videos—and tag their photo or video #100tpcBuffalo to be displayed in installations throughout the event.
100,000 Poets & Artists for Changeis free and open to the public. For more information including the full schedule of readers, visit Just Buffalo’s website: www.justbuffalo.org.
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