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"Naked Kitchen Yoga" for Starcherone Books

What is "Naked Kitchen Yoga"?

That's a question for the ages, really.
 
It could be the title of the latest anthology of flarfist/conceptualist poetry, a little-known ascetic practice involving stretching and cutlery, or perhaps the least hygienic idea ever for a combination exercise studio and theme restaurant.
 
Fortunately, it is none of the above.
 
"Naked Kitchen Yoga" is the second annual benefit reading for Buffalo-based Starcherone Books, the "independent, innovative fiction" publisher of critically acclaimed titles by the likes of Raymond Federman, Leslie Scalapino, Joshua Cohen, Sara Greenslit and Zachary Mason (whose The Lost Books of the Odyssey, now republished by Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, is now on many critics' short list for most dazzling literary debut of the last decade).
 
It's the unofficial "kick-off" celebration of Small Press Month (March) in Buffalo and features 16 of Western New York's leading poets and fiction writers reading their work published by small presses and little magazines in fast-paced and high-spirited five-minute segments. The readers list is subject to change, so we won't publish it here, but suffice to say, it represents the best and brightest of Buffalo's indie publishing scene, including many poets and fiction writers whose work we've reviewed in this space. As was the case last year, Starcherone Books founder and publisher Ted Pelton -- fresh off the debut of his own novella Bartleby, The Sportscaster (Subito Books) -- will be master of ceremonies.
 
The fun begins at 7 tonight (Friday) at Western New York Book Arts Collaborative, 468 Washington St. (near Mohawk). Admission is $6, to cover refreshments and a chance to win a complete set of current editions of all 20 Starcherone titles published to date.

--R.D. Pohl

R.F. Foster, historian and Yeats biographer, at Canisius tonight

"History is not about manifest destinies, but unexpected and unforeseen futures," writes Irish historian R.F. (Roy) Foster. "The most illuminating history is often written to show how people acted in the expectation of a future that never happened...." 
 
Once dubbed "The great demythologizer of Ireland" by critic Terry Eagleton and "a writer of Jamesian non-fiction" by Eva Hoffman,  Foster brings his steadfast insistence on stubborn facts and complex contraindications that refuse be subsumed into the grand historical narrative he refers to as the "myth of Irish historiography" to Canisius College's Montante Cultural Center tonight at 7 p.m. to deliver the seventh annual Hassett Reading.
 
According to Canisius College English professor and Writer-in-Residence Mick Cochrane, Foster will give a lecture illustrated with PowerPoint slides based on his current project, writing the biography of "The Revolutionary Generation," with special attention to William Butler Yeats's classic poem "Easter 1916."  
 
One of the English-speaking world's leading thinkers and public intellectuals, Foster, the Carroll Professor of Irish History at Oxford University and editor of The Oxford History of Modern Ireland is perhaps best known as the author of Modern Ireland: 1600-1972 (1988), a book widely considered the definitive contemporary "revisionist" history of Ireland, as well as the acclaimed two-part biography of Yeats -- W. B. Yeats, A Life, Vol. I: The Apprentice Mage, 1865-1914 (1997) and W. B. Yeats - A Life, II: The Arch-Poet 1915-1939 (2003) -- that remains the only biography authorized by the poet's family.

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Ted Nash's 'Portrait in Seven Shades' makes jazz out of visual art

I just got off the phone with Ted Nash, a reed player with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and composer of "Portrait in Seven Shades," which Nash and the orchestra will perform on March 20 in the University at Buffalo's Center for the Arts. Nash's suite is based on the lives and work seven seminal 19th and 20th century painters: Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Claude Monet, Marc Chagall, Jackson Pollock, Salvador Dalí and van Gogh.

Look for an article by Jeff Simon (with a sidebar by me) in the March 19 edition of Gusto. But in the meantime, to whet your appetite, check out this fascinating series of blog entries and videos by Nash on MoMA's blog, in which he reflects on the influence of the artists he chose to represent in the suite.

--Colin Dabkowski

WNED to air 'Writing with Light: Picturing Poetry'

While it's not unusual for parents and educators to pay tribute to the unique ability of the arts to capture and engage the imagination of young people, unless you've actually been in the presence of the kind of raw, unmediated enthusiasm kids have for self-expression when they're given the opportunity to develop the skills empowering it, you might think the entire arts-in-education movement overrated and increasingly irrelevant in an era where the only thing that matters in our schools is "teaching to the test."
 
At at 10 tonight, Buffalo public television viewers will have a rare opportunity to witness that kind of enthusiasm in action and go behind the scenes of a successful arts-in-education program when WNED-TV Channel 17, Cable 3 will broadcast "Writing with Light: Picturing Poetry," a documentary film by Jon R. Hand that follows the progress of a group of fifth-grade students in Buffalo's Native American Magnet School (NAMS) as they proceed through a signature 10-week joint education project designed and administered by Buffalo's CEPA Gallery and Just Buffalo Literary Center. 
 
The documentary follows teaching artists Karen Lewis of Just Buffalo and Amy Leza Luraschi of CEPA as they join with Native American Magnet School teacher Robin Fischer to develop a theme ("Connection") for the project that will be both relevant and challenging to the students, and will engage them both academically and socially. It proceeds through the implementation of the program, showing 10- and 11-year-olds actively developing their reading and writing skills, their imaginative and critical thinking abilities, and their general communication and social skills as they work on creating first images (in the form of photographs), then poems, and finally, narratives expressing both their individual and cultural point of view.

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Barry Hannah, Southern postmodern writer, dies

Just three days before the University of Mississippi's 17th annual Oxford Conference for the Book was set to celebrate his life and work, the acclaimed Southern novelist and short story writer Barry Hannah died of a heart attack on March 1 in Oxford, Mississippi. He was 67 years old.
 
Hannah, the author of eight novels and five story collections, burst on the scene with Geronimo Rex (1972), a violent, darkly comic, and transgressively picaresque Southern white boy's coming-of-age novel that was nominated for the National Book Award and won the prestigious PEN/Faulkner award for fiction, even though it seemed written in an attempt to move Southern fiction away from the lofty tone and high baroque prose style associated with Faulkner. 
 
He followed with Nightwatchmen (1973), a bizarre, grisly, and over the top multi-perspective narrative account of a series of murders at a Southern university campus that revisited the voice of Geronimo Rex's Harry Monroe, but demonstrated that language -- not plot -- was the strongest element of Hannah's work.  Years later, he himself came to refer to it as "the lost Barry Hannah novel."
 
Airships (1978), his now-classic story collection marked perhaps the stylistic apotheosis of Hannah's early career collaboration with the heavy-handed editorial pencil of Alfred A. Knopf's "Captain Fiction" Gordon Lish (also the editor of Raymond Carver during that same era).  More than three decades after its release, it remains his most widely-read and admired book.

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