My attention will soon have to turn to all of the exciting Foundlings publications and other projects popping up and popping off in this first half of 2018. I have had a few small publications of my own worth mentioning, though.
The most noteworthy, and the most fun to write, was an essay on Buffalo’s Silo City and some of the men and women who’ve shaped the place over the years. In “The Next Gyration” I profiled Rick Smith, Swannie Jim, members of ELAB and Torn Space, and Harry R. Wait, the engineer whose slipform technique first allowed the silos to rise. Find it in the latest issue of Traffic East.
Speaking of Torn Space, I got to review that company’s exceptional production of Caryl Churchill’s Far Away. Read it in Buffalo Theatre Guide.
On Valentine’s Day, a Twitter-project called The Napkin Letter featured a new poem of mine, “dry january.” (Expect more work in this vein.)
A few weeks back Darren Canham and I joined Al Abonado in the WAYO 104.3 studios for an interview on “Flour City Yawp.” For a year now Al has been interviewing Western New York writers and tons of poets who pass through Rochester. We got to talk with Al about the beginnings of Foundlings Magazine, our transformation into Foundlings Press, our thoughts on the Buffalo literary scene, and our plans for the future.
Listen to the full interview here:
Theatre season in Buffalo has been off to a strong start. During Curtain Up week in September I was able to catch two excellent comedies: the charming adaptation Killer Rack at Alleyway and Noel Coward’s coruscant Design For Living at Irish Classical. Drama, however, is the flavor for November. Theatregoers have two fine choices in Glengarry Glen Ross at Road Less Traveled and The Crucible at Kavinoky.
Glengarry Glen Ross
In the age of Zillow, the basics of the play – an all-male real estate office fixated on index-card leads – seem a little dated. But RLTP has proven that the play is timeless – and ferociously relevant right now.
… Like these salesman we are all poor players, we are all walking shadows, strutting and fretting our hour upon the stage; we are full of sound and fury and we aren’t sure if anyone is listening: if there is someone out there, above us or behind the eyes we meet on the subway, at a Chinese restaurant, in the office, in bed, all we care is that they “sign on the line which is dotted.” All we want is to close; but as Glengarry Glen Ross demonstrates so powerfully, there is no final “closure,” and winning the Cadillac El Dorado “signifies nothing”: There is only the next sucker, the next sale, the next word in a neverending monologue. When Levene gloats to Williamson, “A man’s his job and you’re f*cked at yours,” he could, really, be speaking to any of us.
Proctor is talking about the witch trials. Because Arthur Miller is the author, Proctor is also talking about 1950s American anti-communist hysteria, another “crucible” in our history, which would sweep up and imperil Miller and some of his closest friends around the time of the play’s composition (1953). And because we are the audience and our year is 2017, John Proctor is also talking about the American Kangaroo Court culture and its Tweeter in Chief, where to prosecute is to hold power, to accuse is to claim privilege, and there is only safety in the transference of blame.
… Though occasionally slow and imbalanced overall, at its emotional crescendos (which are not, usually, the play’s loudest parts), masterful performances will carry away all the audience’s doubts, quibbles, and objections about this admirable production.
I’ve had the chance to review some solid albums recently. All have appeared in The Skinny.
From my review of Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN.:
The themes are familiar from earlier efforts – but this is more obviously an effort, a struggle. Appropriately then, he laconically raps on YAH., ‘I’m a Israelite, don’t call me black no mo’.’ He’s mining a deep vein – many African American artists have appropriated Old Testament narratives to describe their social and political experience. Here, though, Lamar really is Israel: “he who struggles with God.”
From my review of BadBadNotGood’s contribution to the Late Night Tales project:
You may spend a lifetime searching record store new acquisitions bins; once you find voices like these, you don’t let them get too far away. BadBadNotGood have packed more than a dozen little viruses into this disk, and once you hear it, you’ll be spreading the ill, too.
From my review of Gorillaz’ Humanz:
There will be work to do, yes, and failures – but there will also always be another party to plan, and it turns out that’s a more important task than we realised. Humanz, then, is what we need right now: an interruption, a challenge, an unfamiliar encounter, a good party – a message of hope that doesn’t seem naive.
From my review of Beach Fossils’ Somersault:
Many of the songs seem to soar – self-awareness at cruising altitude – but there’s also a groundedness to the album, a sense that at least one member’s classic Adidas are never too far from the Brooklyn pavements – in no small part because of an understated but pervasive politicality. This is the band’s best yet.
Starting Aug. 22, I’ll be at the Just Buffalo Literary Center offering a workshop for writers aged 12-18. The two-week workshop is called “Writing the Other,” and our focus will be narrative nonfiction – the kind that calls about others, imagining oneself into the circumstances and the emotional lives of other people – or, as Joan Didion would have it, “selling somebody out.”
The workshops will run Tuesdays and Thursdays, Aug. 22, 24, 29, and 31, from 4:30-6 pm. Attendance is free.
For more information, visit the event page on Just Buffalo’s website.