History & Mission
Just Buffalo Literary Center’s mission is to create and strengthen communities through the literary arts. Our vision is to make Western New York a community that fully supports and values the love of reading, the art of writing, and the power of the literary arts to transform individual lives and communities.
You could say that Just Buffalo began with a poem:
Love Comes Quietly
by Robert Creeley
Love comes quietly,
around me, on me,
in the old ways.
What did I know,
able to go
alone all the way?
When Just Buffalo Literary Center’s founder, Debora Ott, first heard this poem as a teenager in New York City, it inspired her to come to the University at Buffalo to study with its author, Robert Creeley. UB’s English Department was legendary, attracting incredible poets and writers to both its faculty and its student body. In that intense period of creativity and inquiry in the literary arts, Just Buffalo created a new niche, inviting writers out of academia and into the heart of the community. In 1975, this is how the organization began.
Since then, Just Buffalo Literary Center has brought the world’s greatest writers to Buffalo, most recently with our acclaimed BABEL series; supported the development of young writers through our award-winning Writers in Education program; and fostered a vibrant cultural scene, becoming an important regional asset and one of the nation’s leading literary centers.
Just Buffalo Literary Center is the only organization in the region dedicated specifically to poetry and literature—encouraging the community to read, write, and share the written word in ways that are often transformational. At the heart of our work are the writers who have lived, taught, and read here as well as those future writers who will follow in their footsteps. Our success has come thanks to the support and engagement of the community. As we approach our 40th anniversary, it is clear we are on the threshold of continued growth, and an even greater era of service.