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Poet Katy Lederer on writing and poker (Butler Library)

"Both writing and poker function as economies of status and prestige, and both require a survivalist's iron will," poet Katy Lederer has written.  So does working for a leading Manhattan based hedge fund, which she did until this past September, when she serendipitously began her current book tour.

Lederer is the author of two highly regarded collections of poetry--Winter Sex (Verse Press, 2002) and The Heaven-Sent Leaf, which was published last month by Rochester, NY based BOA Editions, Ltd., one of the literary world's leading independent publishers.  She visits Buffalo this afternoon to read from her work at 4:30 p.m. in Buffalo State College's Butler Library as sponsored by the college's Rooftop Poetry Club.

Lederer is perhaps best known for her acclaimed memoir Poker Face: A Girlhood Among Gamblers (Crown, 2003) which Publishers Weekly included on its list of the Best Nonfiction Books of 2003 and Esquire Magazine named one of its eight Best Books of the Year.  The literary daughter of a family of polymaths--her father is popular author (Crazy English and The Miracle of Language) and syndicated columnist Richard Lederer and her brother Howard Lederer and sister Annie Duke are both world class professional poker players--she describes Poker Face as "a literary memoir by a poet who happens to be related to high-stakes gamblers... As far as what the book might offer those obsessed with poker: it is an entertaining, often bittersweet narrative about a family that was fundamentally and dramatically transformed by the game. Indeed, I often describe the book as the story of how poker saved my family, and I think it is extremely interesting to think that, in some cases, vice might be, finally, more redemptive than virtue."

Lederer graduated from the University of California-Berkeley and the Iowa Writers Workshop, although she dismisses the rumor that she paid her way college on her earnings at the poker table.  She is currently the poetry editor of Fence magazine.

Joining her in reading this afternoon will be award-winning poet and translator Andrew Zawacki, author of Petals of Zero Petals of One (Talisman House,2008), Anabranch (Wesleyan), and By Reason of  Breakings (Georgia University Press).  A former fellow of the Slovenian Writers’ Association, he edited Afterwards: Slovenian Writing 1945-1995 published by Buffalo poet Dennis Maloney's White Pine Press and he is editing and co-translating Ales Debeljak’s new and selected poems, Without Anesthesia (Persea, 2009).  He teaches at University of Georgia and co-edits the magazine Verse.

--R.D. Pohl

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