Anne Boyer: Just Buffalo Literary Center STUDIO Poetry Series

Oct. 28-Nov. 18, 2020

Poet Anne Boyer reading from her work, The Undying: Pain, Vulnerability, Mortality, Medicine, Art, Time, Dreams, Data, Exhaustion, Cancer and Care (2020 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction), Nov. 18, 2020.

In an effort to facilitate healing and promote critical discussion and creative self-expression during these unprecedented times, Just Buffalo Literary Center presented its STUDIO Poetry Series in fall 2020 for the first time ever in a virtual format. The University at Buffalo’s Creative Arts Initiative funding provided crucial support to ensure a successful season and secure Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Anne Boyer.

This unprecedented season featured some of the most dynamic and celebrated writers of our time with works focused on the body, health, & healing. The featured poets and works included:

• Anne Boyer, The Undying: Pain, Vulnerability, Mortality, Medicine, Art, Time, Dreams, Data, Exhaustion, Cancer and Care (2020 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction)

• Ilya Kaminsky, Deaf Republic (2019 National Book Award for Poetry finalist)

• Dawn Lundy Martin, Good Stock Strange Blood (Lambda Literary Prize for Lesbian Poetry)

• Kazim Ali (in conversation with Kaveh Akbar), The Voice of Sheila Chandra

“I daresay this ranks as perhaps the most brilliantly-curated, best-produced, and most thematically-focused video poetry series I have ever had the privilege of viewing, and that includes anything PBS, any publisher, creative writing program, or foundation has ever underwritten. ”
R.D. Pohl, Buffalo News “Poem of the Week” Editor

Residency Events

STUDIO Readings & Conversations (Oct. 28, Nov. 4, Nov. 11, and Nov. 18, 2020): All (4) of the pre-taped events were free and open to the public. Aired via Crowdcast, registered participants received a link with one week to view the event. In total, more than 900 viewers tuned in from all across the globe. Each event included a land acknowledgment; detailed introduction of the writer’s life and work; brief reading of the featured text; in-depth conversation with JBLC’s Artistic Director, Barbara Cole; and audience questions. Conversations addressed issues related to the body, health, disability, and healing with different perspectives on that theme including the Black body; disabilities and discourses around ableism; the politics of healthcare; and rhetoric(s) of cancer.

To increase accessibility, all of the events were embedded with closed captioning as well as American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation provided by Service Bridges Inc. and Deaf Access Services. Audience members had the opportunity to submit questions for the writers in advance by email or “video selfie.” Fourteen questions were selected from a diverse cross-section of the community. Music by local musicians was featured during the pre-event slideshow and closing credits for 3 of the 4 events. For the event featuring Kazim Ali & Kaveh Akbar, we were delighted to secure permissions from Real World Records and South Asian vocal sensation, Sheila Chandra, to feature her music throughout the reading.

UB Poetics Student Seminar (Oct. 15-Nov. 22, 2020):

Given the ongoing uncertainty of scheduling live events, Anne Boyer’s writer residency was modified from a traditional in-person model to a virtual format with an exclusive "live" synchronous seminar with graduate students in UB’s Poetics Program. To accomplish project goals and ensure diverse participation, Just Buffalo partnered with UB’s Poetics and Innovative Writing Departments, the Rare & Special Books Collection, Center for Disability Studies, Office of Accessibility Resources, and the Humanities Institute, among others.