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The Next Three Weeks in Local Letters

The end of April and beginning of May will see the arrival in Buffalo of several big names in the world of contemporary prose and poetry, as well as the release of new books by local authors, and readings, book signings, and panel discussions to accompany them. All of these events are free and open to the public. They are unique opportunities to learn something from talented writers whose interests and notoriety run the proverbial gamut. What I’m trying to say is that I’ll be at all of these and I hope you will too.

• This Saturday, April 26, Carol Ann Duffy will speak and read from her work. Duffy is the current poet laureate of the United Kingdom. She is a prolific poet whose work comprises more than 40 collections of poetry, plays, and books for children. Her awards and distinctions are far too numerous to mention. The event will take place at 5pm at Calvary Episcopal Church (20 Milton Street, Williamsville).

Some days, although we cannot pray, a prayer

utters itself. So, a woman will lift

her head from the sieve of her hands and stare

at the minims sung by a tree, a sudden gift.

Some nights, although we are faithless, the truth

enters our hearts, that small familiar pain;

then a man will stand stock-still, hearing his youth

in the distant Latin chanting of a train.

—From Carol Ann Duffy’s “Prayer”

• On Sunday, April 27, recently retired SUNY Buffalo professor (and former next door neighbor of mine) Alexis De Veaux reads from and sign copies of her newest book, Yabo (RedBone Press, 2014). De Veaux has written plays, poetry, and children’s literature, though she is perhaps best known for her two biographies, Don’t Explain: A Song of Billie Holiday (Harper & Row, 1980) and Warrior Poet: A Biography of Audre Lorde (Norton, 2004). The event will be at the Just Buffalo Literary Center Writing Room at the Western New York Book Arts Center at 2pm.

• On Monday, April 28, acclaimed author, illustrator, and naturalist James Prosek will speak at Nichols School as part of the school’s Prince Lecture Series. Prosek is most famous for his beautiful watercolors of species of fish that adorn the pages of his books Trout: An Illustrated History (Knopf, 1996), Trout of the World (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2003), and Ocean Fishes (Rizzoli, 2012), which was one of the books I recommended in my holiday gift guide. Prosek won a Peabody Award in 2003 for his documentary The Complete Angler, in which he follows the footsteps of 17th-century English author and angler Izaak Walton. Prosek will deliver his lecture at 7pm at the Nichols Flickinger Performing Arts Center, (1250 Amherst Street).

• At 7pm on Wednesday, April 30, at the Talking Leaves Main Street location, Ed Taylor, English professor at Buffalo State and Canisius College, will discuss and deliver passages from his first novel, Theo (Old Street, 2014), which was released to critical acclaim in the UK last year.

• The next day, on Thursday, May 1, Buffalo native Catherine Pelonero will be signing copies of her book Kitty Genovese: A True Account of a Public Murder and its Private Consequences (Skyhorse, 2014). Jonathon Welch, co-founder of Talking Leaves, writes, “Many are familiar with the Genovese story, how she was attacked and murdered in New York while dozens of people ignored her pleas for help. What most do not know is that the man convicted of that crime escaped from custody in 1968 while on a medical visit to Meyer Memorial Hospital in Buffalo. He went on a three-day crime spree here, robbing, raping and kidnapping several people here before being re-captured.” The signing will take place at Talking Leaves on Elmwood at 5pm.

• That same day, Thursday, May 1, assistant professor of arts management at SUNY Buffalo Miriam Paeslack will participate in a discussion of the collection she edited, Ineffably Urban: Imaging Buffalo (Ashgate, 2013), along with many of the local artists and writers whose work is featured in the book. They will also discuss the city’s past and promising future, and how it is acted upon by the forces that are changing it. The event will take place at Hallwalls Cinema (341 Delaware Avenue) at 7pm.

• On Saturday, May 3, at 4pm at Talking Leaves Main Street, Tomek Jankowski of Hamburg will discuss and sign copies of his book Eastern Europe!: Everything You Need to Know About the History (And More!) (New Europe Books, 2013). From Publishers Weekly: “Jankowski helpfully provides phonetic spellings of difficult or unfamiliar proper nouns and presents summaries and guides at each chapter’s beginning. Through it all he showcases the region’s intangible and resilient spirit—for instance, in the story of the general who prevented the looting of a national Hungarian museum in 1919 using nothing but tape, even as the bulk of Eastern Europe lay devastated by WWI. Jankowski’s history of the region serves as a welcome introduction or refresher course.”

• And on Thursday, May 8, also at Talking Leaves Main Street, Marc Pietryzkowski, professor of English at Niagara County Community College, will be reading from and signing copies of his two new fiction and poetry collections.

See you there!

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