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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Meet Writing Center Youth Ambassador Sage Enderton. The first picture is from 2014, when she first started coming to the center.  And here's Sage this past week, leading a poetry and collage workshop as a Teaching Artist! She's the first young writer to become a Teaching Artist and we couldn't be more proud of her. Watching her change from being too shy to share her work to realizing that "I have a voice and it's loud and it's powerful and I have a lot to say" has been an honor and a privilege. For the workshop, Sage explored the idea of collage in poetry and visual art. Participants wrote centos* and then created collages inspired by their poems. *From the Latin word for “patchwork," the cento (or collage poem) is a poetic form made up of lines from poems by other poets.Thank you for supporting the Just Buffalo Writing Center; this transformation wouldn't have been possible without you.

A Recipe For Horror STEP ONE: Everyone writes the title of horror movie that doesn’t exist. You’ll Need Your Rubber Gloves In 1922, on a lonely hike to a waterfall, William Kobialski encountered a carefully woven basket. In a flash of black, the raven carrying it urgently flew off as if it were a man running away after lighting on old-fashioned bomb. Inside the basket were two blood-red rubber gloves and an orange bowtie. As he touched the basket, the clothing rapidly flew onto him, nearly cutting off the circulation in his hands and strangling him at the neck. His blood pressure dropped and he blacked out. Azazel spoke to him. Not in words. In feelings, in fires in the skins of tortured, sin-laden goats. He saw the skin of the goat change and coalesce, eventually into a human form--his own form. He felt his skin, and it felt soft--too soft. It stuck to his glove, to his hand, to his entire body. He wished so badly for it to be gone--and it was gone. Everything but the gloves, the bowtie, and his own senses. He awoke in a cold sweat but the sweat slowly fell down into nothingness, until it landed on a single rubber glove. The only remnant of his past body was a smell that was just a little too chocolaty, just a little too sweet, just a little too much of a good smell--until it grew to be absolutely unbearable, and the bow tie and gloves were bloody instead of blood-red, and the bowtie was fire instead of just a hellish, deep orange. But by that time, I doubt one would notice… Written by Theo STEP TWO: Costume closet -Can use the horror title you got as inspiration. -Create a character by getting into their costume using the costume closet. This character will end up being in a scary story you are going write. They could be the person/thing to be feared in your story, or they could be someone who encounters the person to be feared. All the Brains Were Kept in the Attic Ms. Louis kept 10 brains in her attic. Each brain represented something: 1 - when she was younger, her favorite memory 2 - when she had her worst dream 3 - when she got in trouble in school 4 - when she turned a certain age 5 - her first day of high school 6 - her first day of college 7 - when she began to be an adult 8 - when her old black cat died 9 - brain 10 - when she had a funny nightmare All of the brains had glitter and pink and black diamonds on them. Ms. Louis was very old and miserable. She didn’t like nobody. She wanted everyone to leave her alone. She was 87 years old. She had 2 grandchildren. They were 10 and 7. The boy’s name was Alex, and Max, Max is the girl. When Ms. Louis was 15 she broke her leg and left arm at the gym. Ms. Louis always drunk hot lemonade water with little tea bag particles in there that

Whoever said memes can’t be art doesn’t have a sense of humor, or of art for that matter--and they definitely haven’t met Travis Sharp.  That idea was one of the jumping-off points at the Drawing Words & Writing Visual Texts workshop he ran at the Just Buffalo Writing Center in early October. Sharp, a PhD student in the Poetics program at SUNY Buffalo, centered the first day of workshop around the visual and physical structure of letters and words. At first, the prompts were straightforward: ●      Draw a vertical line. ●      Draw a lowercase “l”. ●      Draw the uppercase “I” upside down. The language used here is crucial. Sharp asked the students, Ryan and Theo,  to “draw” instead of “write” letters. Without saying it, Sharp rejects the confinements of what can or cannot be drawn or a drawing. The task is visual in its instructions, and eventually becomes more abstract: ●      Draw a face. ●      Draw the word “face”. ●      Draw the word “word”. ●      Draw the word “poem”. ●      Draw a poem. The ambiguous reasoning behind the instructions creates space for a myriad of interpretations--both for what it means to draw and what it means to write poetry. What does it mean, for example, to “draw” a poem? Do you draw lines in the form of stanzas? Do you draw words escaping from a brain? A heart? It’s hard to convey what exactly the directions mean, but it allows the results to be endless. “It’s not really explaining something but it’s creating some sort of experience that you can talk about.” Sharp said, on the topic of writing from the vantage point of the visual.  On the second day of workshop, he inverted that prompt. First, by projecting images from Matthea Harvey’s If the tabloids are true… a book of photos and artwork accompanied by poetry. The collection is beautiful but eerie, especially  in the way it unsettles our expectations of how things should be. from Matthea Harvey’s "If the tabloids are true…" There’s an uneasiness in seeing something warped from its usual context, like a mermaid with scissors for a tail, or a set of tiny chairs and human figurines paralyzed in blocks of ice. from Matthea Harvey’s "If the tabloids are true…" The two students attending the workshop, Ryan and Theo, took different paths: Have you ever heard someone say If you choke on ice, All you have to do is wait? What if you get frozen with ice? Just wait Wait until it melts so I can move Wait until the cold stops Stop Please stop Get this ice out from between my thighs and handbag. But I just have to wait. Tick tock I’m getting bored I think this ice is starting to reach my heart I can feel my blood freezing My veins closing My heart stopping Stop Please stop How long must I stay waiting? -Ryan Theo on the other hand saw the ice as an opportunity to speak on the obvious, and not so obvious, as he explained to the group that day. The obvious being the objects trapped in ice, and the not so obvious being the elements not present in the photo.   I tried

An alien abduction, an anthropomorphic squirrel, and a collection of disjointed body parts all walk into a workshop – or rather, come out of it. These were the images that the “Art Comix” workshop conjured on the evening of September 13th in the Just Buffalo Writing Center. The workshop’s students had the option to draw inspiration from a number of selected poems, or create a new one through the lens of what settling for the first time in Buffalo, as someone totally new to the city, would feel like. Some of the poems that sprang from this prompt will be showcased on September 22 at Points of Departure, where refugees and immigrants will be welcome to share their experiences as new members of the community and the fabric of America. Max Weiss, who headed the workshop with help from Writing Center Coordinator, Robin Jordan, offered this caveat: “Take risks, even if they don’t make sense,” Weiss said. For Weiss, the workshop was meant to help students navigate the marrying of visual art and narrative as a form of storytelling, which he believes to be a more intimate form of expression than even his previous craft of songwriting, which took him down to Nashville for a stint as a guitarist after college. “With music you may need an audience whereas in comics, you could collaborate, or you could do everything on your own,” Weiss said. “I’ve been able to have a lot of fun with myself creating independently, and so I left Tennessee and as soon as I got back I found this place.” As Weiss made his rounds of the table where students worked, he carefully eavesdropped on the creative process of his students. Many of them drew directly from the poems they’d written two days prior in response to that same mystifying prompt; how does it feel to be a stranger in your own waking world? Perhaps a sense not too far removed from the lived experiences of most budding young adults, but distant enough to be an alien concept for many native-born American kids. From there, cue an hour of clacking on typewriters, Keith Haring-esque figures sprouting on the page, an analysis of Exodus 34:14, and debates on the best animal characters to ever hit a screen. One student, Cora, meticulously carved an array of circles and narrow ovals, gradually building them into full bodies with arms and faces. In the first fully fleshed-out strip, an anthropomorphic squirrel spills an “Ugh” into a speech bubble. In the strips that follow, the squirrel is approached by her friend, a cat, who is from the neighborhood. The comic was labeled with the temporary title “title.” The naming of her work is usually done gardening style, so to speak. This means she typically starts with a idea that comes to fruition as she tends to her craft, growing into a fully-formed piece with a fitting title. This is a gradual, careful process; she pays especially close attention to the slope of her lines by using her ruler