Our Response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak

As a precaution to help limit the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and care for our community, Just Buffalo Literary Center has postponed a number of events, and we will follow the guidance of Buffalo Public Schools in terms of Just Buffalo Writing Center programming.

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As a way to archive the many writing prompts we use at the Just Buffalo Writing Center, we are going to more frequently post writing prompts created by young writers, teaching artists, and others. This prompt takes inspiration from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Hans Christian Andersen’s Thumbelina. In particular, think about the scene in Alice in Wonderland when Alice shrinks and then grows very large. Notice her transformation of perspective, how she is forced to look at the world in a different way, abruptly! 

"Buffalo is often called the 'City of Good Neighbors' because it is a city that's home to a large refugee and immigrant population. As Buffalonians we pride ourselves on this flourishing diversity. But with xenophobia and hate crimes on the rise, sometimes the message behind being a 'City of Good Neighbors' is forgotten. Through this summer fellowship at the Just Buffalo Writing Center I interviewed three different immigrants who call America home, and offer readers a snapshot of their lives. My hope is that by sharing these narratives, we can learn how each of our experiences intertwine and that human empathy ties people from all varying backgrounds together. These profiles act as a response to the question, 'What makes being the “City of Good Neighbors” so wonderful?'"

We were thrilled to spend time catching up with poet & JBWC alum Hannah Nathanson, who recently released her first chapbook, Alternative Universes, with Bone & Ink Press. (Hooray, Hannah!) Hannah graduated from City Honors in 2018; she now studies English, global culture, and creative writing at Binghamton University. She will also be leading a workshop at as a teaching artist at JBWC—later this month, on geography and ghosts.

Poet, founding editor-in-chief of Peach Mag, and Just Buffalo teaching artist Rachelle Toarmino is author of the poetry collection That Ex, recently published by Big Lucks Books. Rachelle took the time to chat with us about That Ex, the experience of releasing a book during a pandemic, and the creative ways she’s connecting with readers despite it all—like hosting Buffalo’s first-ever drive-in poetry reading to launch That Ex on Friday, Aug. 7.

Check out this digital chapbook made to commemorate the 2020 Just Buffalo Writing Center SHOWCASE featuring Angel Barber, Bushraa Choudhury, Taylor Yarns, and Zanaya Hussain.

We've missed you this spring—missed sharing the excitement, the conversations, the gathering of a community to celebrate and be inspired by literature, all the things that together make BABEL the landmark literary event that it is. To give you an update, Artistic & Associate Executive Director Barbara Cole has been in close contact with our Spring 2020 BABEL authors and their agents, working to reschedule their events for a time when in-person events are again possible.

Missing BABEL? Us, too. If you’re looking for literary inspiration, here’s a roundup of links—videos, articles, podcasts, and more—featuring past BABEL authors. Learn about the books that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie loves, reads while working, and keeps on her nightstand in this “By The Book” interview from The New York Times—a quick, fun Q&A that will leave you with a ton of book recommendations.

Teaching artist Cheryl Quimba, author of the poetry collection Nobody Dancing and the chapbook Scattered Trees Grow in Some Tundra, leads writers into the liminal spaces of prose poetry (and Zoom!) in her upcoming workshop The Prose Poem on May 2. Cheryl took the time to chat with us about the workshop, what it means to be exploring the prose poem at this moment, and more.

Author and teaching artist Janet McNally is the author of two novels, The Looking Glass and Girls In The Moon, and a book of poems, Some Girls. She’s twice been a New York Foundation for the Arts fellow in fiction, and she teaches creative writing at Canisius College. On Monday (Feb. 17), Janet’s three-session How to Start Your Novel workshop begins—an opportunity to dive into the novel project you’ve been dreaming up and find community, inspiration, and the push to keep going. Learn more about Janet and her workshop (spots still available!) in this quick Q&A.