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Google Book Settlement to be renegotiated

As Poets & Writers Magazine and the Wall Street Journal reported, all three parties in the proposed class-action settlement negotiated between the Authors Guild, the Association of American Publishers and Google Books filed motions on Thursday to postpone the scheduled hearing Oct. 7 in New York City before Justice Denny Chin, U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of New York, to review the settlement. Judge Chin indicated he will accept the motions.
The plaintiffs will return to the negotiation table along with advisors from the antitrust division of the U.S. Department of Justice to amend the existing framework of the settlement to comport with current trade and intellectual property law and address many of the concerns about the sweeping settlement raised by its opponents.  The parties proposed an interim "status conference" before the court on Nov. 7th to report on their progress.   
The controversial, 334 page agreement involving a $125 million payment by Google to address past copyright infringement issues in exchange for sweeping, near-exclusive future rights to distribute digital versions of all books--in and out of print--on the World Wide Web had met with considerable opposition from individual authors, librarians, academic scholars, copyright law specialists, and privacy advocates as well as from five state attorney generals and intellectual property rights lawyers representing the European Union.

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Remembering Jackie Felix


Beloved Buffalo artist Jackie Felix died on Saturday after a long illness. John Massier, visual arts curator at Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, has this remembrance of Felix on his weekly blog. Well worth reading.

Also, as Massier points out, a memorial for Felix, which will feature her works and remembrances from members of the local arts community, is scheduled for Nov. 7 at the Burchfield Penney Art Center.

--Colin Dabkowski

At Pittsburgh's G-20 Summit, a Haiku contest

Suppose amid the number crunching of a global financial summit a poetry festival broke out.
That's not exactly what's on the agenda as the world's finance ministers and central bankers gather today and tomorrow in Pittsburgh to assess the devastation their policies have wrought on what used to be America's industrial heartland at the G-20 financial summit, but it's a beautiful idea nonetheless.
As organized anti-globalization protesters prepared more confrontational tactics on the streets of Pittsburgh, members of Pittsburgh's own arts and activist communities have turned to expressions of creative non-violence to make their own statement to the world leaders descending on their Rust Belt city. 
The Pittsburgh Filmmakers--one of the largest and oldest independent media arts centers in the country and a sister organization of the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts--sponsored a Haiku writing contest.  True to the spirit of the competition and the general withering of financial support for the arts during the current recession, there were no cash prizes, but the winning entry was to be displayed prominently on the marquee of the organization's Harris Theater located on Liberty Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh, just three blocks away from the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, which will be the hub of the summit.

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Three Women Writers among MacArthur Fellows

Two leading fiction writers and a prominent American poet are among the 24 individuals selected to receive 2009 fellowships from John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, it was announced on Tuesday at the foundation's headquarters in Chicago.
Edwidge Danticat, Deborah Eisenberg, and Heather McHugh were the writers selected for the latest round of  the so-called "genius grants" administered by the foundation, which also included mixed media and collage artist Mark Bradford, "urban landscape" painter Rackstraw Downes, filmmaker James Longley, and digital artist Camille Utterback, as well as individuals who have made significant contributions in such fields as biology, economics, engineering, journalism, mathematics, medicine, physics, and climate science.  Each will receive $500,000 "with no strings attached" over the next five years.

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Lee Ann Brown brings wordplay to "Big Night"

"All I need is a little resistance/ to come / to terms," wrote Lee Ann Brown in "Resistance Play,"one of the best-known poems from her debut collection Polyverse (Sun & Moon Press), which received the New American Poetry Series Award in 1999. Brown, who teaches at St. John's University in New York City and is the editor of  the Gertrude Stein-inspired Tender Buttons Press, is the featured guest at the first "Big Night" event at 8 tonight in Just Buffalo Literary Center’s new joint home with the Western New York Book Arts Collaborative at 468 Washington St., near Mohawk St.

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The line between art and showmanship

This video, from -- wait for it -- "Ukraine's Got Talent," comes via VSL. In it, the Ukranian artist Kseniya Simonova creates an illustrated version of Germany's invasion of the Ukraine through sand-painting. It's impressive as performance, but no doubt the many in the arts world will view it more as a stunt than a genuine artistic enterprise, given its appearance on a reality show. Judge for yourself:

--Colin Dabkowski

Jim Carroll (1949-2009): He just wanted to be pure

He was tall and thin, wide-eyed with nearly translucent skin and a shock of bright, almost orange-red hair pouring onto his forehead.  He moved with the natural grace of a former athlete, but it was the flow of his speech that caught your attention.  Even in casual conversation, invariably while chain-smoking, the third generation son of an Irish Catholic bartender seemed to transition seamlessly from topic to topic in a dialect of New York City working class vernacular, punctuated by spontaneous flashes of brilliance--a striking image or use of figurative speech--that seemed uncanny, if not outright miraculous.
Jim Carroll, who died at age 60 of a heart attack last Friday in Manhattan, was a 20th century American Rimbaud--charismatic and vulnerable, blessed and cursed by the same gift.  Every iota of his thought stream seemed geared toward a certain epiphany of expression.
In an era before the term "rock star" was routinely used to describe people of accomplishment in fields other than rock music, Carroll was literally and most emphatically a "rock star."   The former New York City high school basketball all-star, turned heroin junkie and street hustler, turned poet and best-selling memoirist and punk band leader seemed to have already lived several overlapping lifetimes by the time of his first and only Buffalo appearance in the fall of 1981 at the old Allentown Community Center on Elmwood Avenue near Allen Street.

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'Chicago' approaches

In doing some research for a piece about the upcoming production of "Chicago" at Shea's Performing Arts Center, I came across this terrific quote by critic Clive Barnes about the 1975 production of the show:

"One might be tempted to say that never in the history of Broadway theater has so much been done by so many for so few final results--but then one remembers 'Pippin.'"

--Colin Dabkowski

UPDATE: 'Blood Brothers' lead loses her voice

This just in from the Irish Classical Theatre Company: Loraine O'Donnell, who played the lead (and admirably, at that) in the ICTC opener "Blood Brothers," has lost her voice. A cast member tells me that weekend's shows were cancelled, and O'Donnell, at least for the time being, will be replaced by local actor Michele Benzin. More to come during the week.

UPDATE: Vincent O'Neill, artistic director at ICTC, confirms that Benzin has been brought in to learn O'Donnell's role, and that she will likely take on the role for the coming week's performances. After cancelling the show's performances this past weekend, O'Neill said, "We felt we couldn't afford to cancel the show for two weekends."

--Colin Dabkowski

Tampa Bay outfielder writes about Robert Creeley

Fernando Perez

"Like poetry, baseball is a kind of counter culture," writes Fernando Perez in the current issue of Poetry magazine.  "The (optional) isolation from the outside world (which I often opt for); the idleness about which—and out of which—so many poems are written or sung: I see this state of mind as a blessing. Sometimes, in fact, when I haven’t turned on a television or touched a newspaper for months, freed from the corporate bombast, poetry is the only dialect I recognize."
Perez is a promising 26-year-old writer who received his B.A. in American Studies and completed the Creative Writing Program at Columbia University. His favorite poet is the late Robert Creeley, who graced Buffalo for nearly four decades as a UB professor and one of the central figures in 20th century American poetry. "Long ago Robert Creeley confirmed my suspicion that words strung even sparingly together can be as aurally powerful as anything else we have, " he writes. "[Creeley] has been my most important poet, because I can take him anywhere, like oranges—even reduced to nothing in both physical and mental exhaustion, nauseous and half asleep bussing from a red-eye." 
Most writers have day jobs of one sort or another to sustain themselves. For many of us that means academia or teaching, the fine arts, library sciences, journalism, or the business world. Perez's day job  involves sprinting, sliding, throwing, fielding, and trying to hit a 98 mph major league fastball.
Fernando Perez is currently an outfielder on the defending American League Champion Tampa Bay Rays. If you're a Boston Red Sox fan, you'll recall Perez as fleet-footed pinch runner who scored the winning run against the Sox in Game 2 of last year's American League Champion Series.  If you're a Yankee fan, Perez (who wears the number 38) is the player Rays manager Joe Maddon inserted into the lineup in center field after Rays star B.J. Upton misplayed two long fly balls this past Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium.

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