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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5 Questions with Poet & Artist Sage Enderton Sage Enderton began attending the Just Buffalo Writing Center (JBWC) in 2014, right when the center opened. As a matter of fact, Sage was one of the very first youth participants. She was in 8th grade and continued to attend JBWC workshops nearly every week until she graduated from City Honors. Whether writing made-to-order poems for donations at community events, welcoming new young writers into the JBWC, running writing activities, performing her work, or attending monthly meetings to plan events and programs, Sage became an active member of JBWC community working as Youth Ambassador, which contributed greatly to the center's success. Still a senior in high school, Just Buffalo hired Sage as the first student teaching artist, empowering her to lead her own writing workshops. Now, as a freshman in Buffalo State's College Writing Program, Sage continues to teach and volunteer at the JBWC. With already an impressive publication record, Sage's first chapbook of poetry, WHERE DO DEAD GIRLS WANDER?, was recently published by Bottlecap Press. What led you to be a writer? I started writing very early on in middle school when a creative writing class was introduced into our curriculum. Middle school is a weird point in adolescence - there’s a lot of new emotions to deal with and it’s difficult to find ways to cope. Poetry quickly became my way of processing my feelings, and it became something I genuinely enjoyed and had a passion for. From there, I never stopped writing. Who are some of your influences as a writer? and/or What is a book or piece of writing you find yourself turning back to most often? I enjoy a lot of Sylvia Plath’s writing, as well as some more contemporary poets like Ocean Vuong. Even though I don’t write prose or short stories very often, Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger is a novel I continuously return to; Wittlinger writes very compelling, honest stories that inspire me to improve my own work. Tell us a little about your chapbook. WHERE DO DEAD GIRLS WANDER? is a very personal compilation of my writing from the last year and a half. It’s an eclectic and candid mix of experiences, and contains ghosts, teeth, girls, healing, and hurting. The poems aren’t in chronological order, but they still provide a narrative of personal growth. What is next for your writing/artistic endeavors? It’s a bit ambitious, but I would like to experiment more with writing prose. My next project is to attempt - keyword, attempt - writing a novel, or at least a collection of short stories. I like challenging myself, so I’m hoping to complete it by the end of the year. What is one of your favorite JB memories/experiences? One of my favorite experiences with Just Buffalo was a songwriting workshop with Max Weiss a few years back. I was still fairly new to the writing center, and I was still very, very afraid to share my writing in front of others. It was a big leap for me - I wrote and

I am moved, and a bit amused, that Just Buffalo would invite me to look back on a reading I did three decades ago, sharing an afternoon monologue marathon in June of 1989 at Ujima Theatre’s then-current space on Elmwood with Eileen Myles, the late, great Manny Fried, Tammy Ryan, Susan Hodge Anner, and Francine Witte. (What connected us, I think, was the fact that we had all either worked within a theatrical setting or at least wrote material meant to be read aloud.) I’m moved because it’s always nice to be remembered, and amused because the main thing that I remember about my own contribution to the event was that it was a flop. I have long believed that—as writers, performers, human beings—our mistakes teach us a lot more than our successes. And I approach pretty much every creative opportunity as an experiment: What can I do in this setting that I haven’t done before? How can I build on what I know I can do well before it turns into something I am terrible at? Sometimes, particularly when I was younger, the question was How far can I take this crazy idea before the audience turns on me? On this particular occasion, the experiment had to do with what I will call “instant history.” For the last ten years or so—inspired by both New Journalism and the first-person theater of folks like Laurie Anderson and Spalding Gray—I had been honing a persona in prose and onstage as a character. I saw, and still see, this character primarily as an observer of and a witness to things going on in the world around me. (Another big inspiration around this time was Frank O’Hara, writing poems about relatively trivial matters on his lunch hour from his day job.) The experiment this time was to give this narrator figure something much bigger to ponder, and to ponder it in public while it was still fresh. I was moved to try this because the protests in Tiananmen Square in Beijing had begun on April 15 of that year and climaxed on June 4, exactly a week before the Just Buffalo reading. It may be hard to remember or imagine a period when “the news” was not a vast ocean of tweets, livestreams, and text crawls, but more like a single stream (technically three streams, from three major networks) that was only turned on for half an hour every evening. The ill-fated democracy movement in China changed that, thanks to the recent introduction of CNN and the birth of the 24-hour live news cycle. I decided to use my 20-minute slot in the reading to capture these two “historic” moments—the uprisings on the other side of the world, but also the birth of the new medium that was feeding us nonstop images of them in real time—in a very old-fashioned way, that of the storyteller, albeit equipped with a still-somewhat-novel word processor and dot-matrix printer. (Or was it a typewriter? I was a very late adopter of