Submissions Open For Buffalo “Under 40” Poetry Anthology

Buffalo poets aged 40 and under can submit to a new anthology of verse through April. BlazeVOX will publish the project in December 2017.

There’s been a lot of buzz around Buffalo poetry lately. The Just Buffalo Literary Center continues to do great work for the city — this year alone they brought Booker-winner Marlon James, Guggenheim Fellow Laila Lalami, and Irish legend Edna O’Brien; their 2017 literary calendar will close with appearances from “rock star” poet Eileen Myles and the extraordinary Dave Eggers. Over the past two seasons the Canisius Contemporary Writers Series brought to Buffalo Theo Dorgan, Kevin Kling, Anne Enright, Cristina Henriquez, Emma Donoghue, and Diana Goetsch; while this year’s UB Oscar Silverman Reading featured Campbell McGrath.

Buffalo continues to enjoy a never-ending carnival procession of literary luminaries, thanks to the indefatigable efforts of the people at these great schools and cultural institutions. But that’s not the buzz I was talking about.

Last spring, two new magazines launched almost simultaneously: the digital native Peach Mag, and my own biannual print publication Foundlings. These joined another lovely publication, Steel Bellow. All three were conceived by people under the age of 30. All three have garnered huge followings in the city and beyond, and have hosted some of the highlight events of the past 12 months.

  • Peach, for example, has created a pipeline to Buffalo for writers associated with alt-lit outlets like Metatron in Montreal and Monster House in Bloomington, IN. Their readings at venues like Sugar City and Dreamland have brought Buffalo poets together with visiting writers.
  • Foundlings, too, has had some success in the import-export game. We brought seven Buffalo poets on a five-city tour (with stops in Fredonia, Rochester, Syracuse, and Toronto) during the 2016 election. We’re proud as well that our magazine features the work of up-and-coming Buffalo writers alongside established writers from around the country — like bilingual poet Don Berger of Baltimore, the Anglo-American poet Lytton Smith of Rochester, and Jason Irwin of Pittsburgh. We’ll continue this with the launch of Vol. 3, June 3rd a Nietzsche’s, featuring the poets George Wallace, George Guida, and Gerry LaFemina, all visiting from NYC.
  • Steel Bellow, meanwhile, maintains a tighter Buffalo focus, giving local poets extended treatment in their issues, really like triptych chapbooks.
  • The most energetic of us might be the Cringeworthy Poets, who in the space of just two months brought alt-lit and slam phenomena Steve Roggenbuck and Neil Hilborn. This summer, their reading tour will take them all the way to California.
  • Also in the summer, Buffalonians will enjoy the sixth installment of the Silo City Series, a project bringing multidisciplinary word, music, and installation art events to the grain silos on our waterfront. These generally feature a Buffalo poet alongside a visiting poet (last year’s season ended with Ocean Vuong). Again, a young person was behind it all: Noah Falck, Education Director at Just Buffalo.
  • Meanwhile, the Buffalo slam community (including the Pure Ink team) continue to host visiting artists and send local talent to compete in the National Poetry Slam. Other open mic events like Wordism bring poets together with musicians.

Those bullet points account for only a fraction of the cool things young Buffalo word-artists are doing. These things are “new,” but the fact of young people taking a lead in the Buffalo arts community is not so new. Because of that, many of us in the community thought it would be a good time to collect young Buffalo writers in one place.

Last night Road Less Traveled Theater put on a poetry showcase that served as our official announcement of the “Buffalo Under 40 Poetry Anthology” (don’t worry — that’s not the title). As I said at the event (in the video above), this is our small contribution to a long and unbroken “revolution” in Buffalo arts, stretching back more than a century.

The project has been underway for a few months now. Co-editors Noah Falck and Justin Karcher are heading up the project, backed by an outstanding editorial board of Buffalo-based poets and curators: Rachelle Toarmino, Paige Melin, Tom Dreitlein, and Eve Williams Wilson.

For the month of April, the team will accept unsolicited submissions. Send work to under40Buffalo@gmail.com, and see www.under40Buffalo.com for guidelines. BlazeVOX will publish the book in December 2017: expect parties.

Babble Presents: Ben Brindise and Rotten Kid

Last week I got to review Ben Brindise’s new chapbook, Rotten Kid, in The Public. The book, out from Syracuse-based Ghost City Press, contains a fresh mix of fiction and poetry, focusing mostly on memory, the process of finding a voice, and an exploration of a voice’s limitations.

Ben asked me to serve at MC for the night – a great honor, as I got to introduce the poets Eve Williams Wilson, Ten Thousand, Tom Dreitlein, Sam Ferrante, Megan Kemple, and Justin Karcher. I had the most fun introducing Ben, though. In honor of his serious slam chops, I decided to do some “spoken word” of my own.

Earlier in the evening I read two of my poems. The first was an old one, “On Tuesday nights I watch the news on her set,” from Foundlings Vol. One. I read this because of my friend Brian Castner’s important piece in yesterday’s New York Times, “Still Fighting, and Dying, in the Forever War.” Then I read “At the funeral of an atheist I didn’t know,” the poem that Janet McNally selected to win this year’s Just Buffalo Member’s Writing Competition. You can watch them below:

 

Review: Rotten Kid, by Ben Brindise

Ben Brindise has been a friend and close collaborator since we met at the first Foundlings launch back in May 2016. We’ve read together countless times, from the election season “Whistle Stop” tour to a poets’ showcase Ben hosted Monday night at Nietzsche’s (now to be a recurring thing, based on that night’s massive success). Now Ghost City Press has published his first chapbook, Rotten Kid, and I got to review it for The Public. I already spilled quite a few words on the book, so go read the review. If you don’t have plans for this Sunday, 5pm at the Gypsy Parlor, mark it in your calendar.  We’ll be celebrating the release with a round of readings from the likes of Justin Karcher, Eve Williams Wilson, Megan Kemple, Ten Thousand, and Tom Dreitlein. I’ll be reading, too.

Just Buffalo Members Competition 2017 Judge’s Award Winner

I’m very happy to have won the Just Buffalo Members Competition for 2017. Judge Janet McNally (author of Some Girls and the YA novel Girls in the Moon) selected my poem “At the funeral of an atheist I didn’t know.” You can read it now in The Public, along with the Audience Award winner Khalil Ihsan Nieves’ poem “you should be here now.” Judging was blind, which makes it OK, I think, that I studied under Janet at Canisius, and then returned there to be here colleague on the 9th floor of Churchill Tower. She was even more surprised by the selection than I was. I believe she said she thought a “weird/charming old man” had written the poem. (She wasn’t exactly wrong.)

Rachelle Toarmino of Peach Mag (a dear friend and collaborator and second place runner-up in the contest) said in her “Peach Picks” column said the poem offers “an insightful look at belief against doubt, with a ready lyricism that allows it to stand as a hymn for the nonbeliever.”