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Poet Ben Friedlander returns for BIG NIGHT

"The mind won't hold certain facts, not willingly, & all my life I've tracked their disappearance, swept out of view in folded waves," wrote poet Ben Friedlander in the epigraph to his 1991 collection "Time Rations"(O Books).  About the slim volume of post-Cold War lyrics written by the son of a Nazi death camp survivor who remade himself in America into a leading historian of the Holocaust, poet Susan Howe wrote: "Ben Friedlander remembers what wounds of World War he was born after.  Days can't cover words at the fact gate.  Lines to the end of myth begin at the middle.  This is intelligent, passionate writing.  The poems in 'Time Rations' are fragments, splinters, and pilgrim staves."

Friedlander, who Robert Creeley once wrote, "speaks with a survivor's humor and ungainsayable clarity of what we had thought to forget," returns to Buffalo to read from his work  tonight at the Western New York Book Arts Center, 468 Washington St. (near Mohawk St.) as the featured guest of Just Buffalo's BIG NIGHT series.  The program begins at 8 p.m.   General admission is $5, $4 for students, Just Buffalo members, and members of Just Buffalo's affiliate organizations.

An important contributor to the Buffalo poetry scene in the 1990's , Friedlander was born in New Orleans in 1959 to parents who were both educators: his mother, an elementary school teacher and his father, a college professor and historian.  He was raised in Ontario, Missouri and New Your City, where he completed high school.

Following graduation he moved to California, where he lived in the San Francisco Bay area for fifteen years, acquiring his B.A. and M.A. in English from UC-Berkeley while immersing himself through his work as a poet, editor and scholar in the San Francisco Poetry community. Among his principal achievements of this era was his edition of a volume of Larry Eigner’s critical prose, "Areas Lights Heights: Writings 1954-1989" (Roof Books).

In 1992, he moved back east to enter the Poetics Program at the University at Buffalo, where he wrote his Ph.D. dissertation on Emily Dickinson and the Civil War, became a pioneer in various early digital and web-based writing experiments that are widely viewed as precursors to Conceptual Writing and Flarf, and collaborated with legendary New American Poetry editor Donald Allen on an annotated edition of "Charles Olson's Collected Prose" published by the University of California Press in 1997.

In 1999, Friedlander joined the English Department of the University of Maine-Orono, where he is now an Assistant Professor and serves as a member of the editorial collective of the National Poetry Foundation. He is the author of over a dozen books of poems including “The Missing Occasion of Saying Yes: Poems 1984-1994  (Subpress Collective, 2007)  and “A Knot Is Not a Tangle” (Krupskaya Press, 2000).  His critical and scholarly works include “Simulcast: Four Experiments in Criticism” (U of Alabama Press, 2004) and “The Selected Poems of Robert Creeley, 1945-2005” (U of California Press, 2005), which he co-edited.  His ongoing book-length poem "One Hundred Etudes" continues in progress.

Joining Friedlander on the BIG NIGHT program are Tammy McGovern, a Buffalo-based artist working in film, electronic and digital art, and interactive media, and singer-songwriter and guitarist Erin Verhoef, a co-host of readings and performances at Rust Belt Books.  As with all BIG NIGHT events, the culinary creations of  BlazeVox Books publisher and gourmet chef Geoffrey Gatza will be a focal point of the festivities.

--R.D. Pohl

Tonight: 'SNLMAO' at Road Less Traveled

Tonight, Buffalo's Alemaedae Theatre will present the first edition of its weekly sketch comedy show "SNLMAO" in the Road Less Traveled Theatre at 639 Main St. Below, Alemaedae's Taura Stephens talks about the show, which runs on Saturdays at 10:30 p.m. (following Road Less Traveled's production "2012: End of the World") through Dec. 1.

Top-ranked slam poet Chris August featured in 'The Menagerie of Awesome'

Performance poet Chris August, winner of the 2011 Individual World Poetry Slam competition in Cleveland, Ohio, joins Buffalo-based spoken word artists MC Vendetta and 10,000, the Buffalo Burlesque Collective and local bands Bourbon & Coffee, and The BloodThirsty Vegans for an evening of performances organizer Janna Willoughby-Lohr (aka MC Vendetta) has promoted  as "The Menagerie of Awesome."

The program begins at 8 p.m. tonight at The Vault, on the 2nd floor of 702 Main Street in Buffalo.  Admission is $5.

August, a veteran of over a decade of competition on the national poetry slam scene, represented such cities as Baltimore, Philadelphia and Washington, DC at the National Poetry Slam and Individual World Poetry Slam competitions before triumphing in Cleveland last year.  Earlier this year, he left his job as a special education teacher to pursue poetry full time. In June, he represented the United States at the Poetry World Cup in Paris, France where he was ranked second in the world. His latest book, "A Life Called Special" (Wilshire Press) is a compilation of his poetry about his work and experiences in the field of special needs education.

--R.D. Pohl

Live chat: Miers on Music at noon

Nancy Weekly on Catherine Parker

"Messiaen V," a 2010 by Catherine Parker from the collection of the Burchfield Penney Art Center.

Nancy Weekly, the longtime curator and Charles Burchfield expert at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, has posted a remembrance of the beloved and prolific Western New York painter Catherine Parker, who died Tuesday. An excerpt:

She enriched our lives by bringing people together in the name of world peace and universal understanding. Surely we knew her art as the most visible part of her life, but she was more than a painter. She will be missed, but through her paintings, we have come to see what is meaningful in life.

Look for my column on Parker's life and contributions, as well as a video interview with Parker's friends and collaborators Janz Castelo and Roland Martin, on Sunday.

British novelist Tom McCarthy to read in Exhibit X Series tonight

Novelist Tom McCarthy, one of the more striking new talents to emerge from British fiction over the past decade, reads from his work tonight at 7 p.m. in the University at Buffalo's Exhibit X Fiction Series at Hallwalls Cinema, 341 Delaware Avenue, near Tupper St.  The event is free and open to the public.

McCarthy is the author of “Remainder” (Metronome Press, 2005), a debut novel which dealt with questions of trauma and repetition, “Men in Space” (Alma Books, 2007), set in Central Europe during the collapse of communism,  and “C” (Alfred A. Knopf, 2010) , a novel set in the early 20th century that explores the relationship between melancholia, violence and the emergent radio technology of the era, as well as the essay collection “Tintin and the Secret of Literature,"an exploration of the themes and patterns of Hergé’s comic books, published by Granta Books in 2006.

“Remainder” won the 2008 Believer Book Award and is currently being adapted for cinema by FilmFour Films.  "C" was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2010.

In addition to his work as a fiction writer, essayist, and critic, McCarthy is the founder and General Secretary of the International Necronautical Society (INS), a semi-fictitious avant-garde network of writers, philosophers and artists whose work has been exhibited internationally at venues including the Palais de Tokyo Paris, Tate Britain and Moderna Museet Stockholm.

--R.D. Pohl

Video: Critics' Corner with Simon & Miers

Thursday Theater Roundup

"33 Variations," through Dec. 2 in MusicalFare Theatre. ★★★½

From the review: "[Moises] Kaufman imbues the potentially nap-worthy premise with the kind of smart and economical writing typically reserved for TV cop shows and Hollywood thrillers. Between interludes of the variations played beautifully by Kramer, we skip back and forth through time, from 18th century Vienna to our own troubled century, each time learning something new about the nature of creativity, genius and, perhaps especially, mediocrity." --Colin Dabkowski


"A Couple of Blaguards," through Nov. 18 in the Irish Classical Theatre Company's Andrews Theatre. ★★★

From the review: "Director Gordon McCall makes full use of his actors’ gifts for physical comedy and song. Both men’s voices are beautifully suited for Irish music and those interludes are lovely to listen to. In the audience, it was also clear that some of the sketches were more polished than others – some good, some even better, some wonderful – and the best assumption is that the show will age well over its three-week run." --Melinda Miller

Stan Klimecko, Dee LaMonte Perry and Gregory Howze in Jewish Repertory Theatre's "The Whipping Man."

"The Whipping Man," through Nov. 11 in the Jewish Repertory Theatre of Western New York's Maxine and Robert Seller Theatre. ★★★

From the review: "The unexpected subject matter alone makes Lopez’s play a worthy addition to the literature of Jewish and African-American relations. It helps that Lopez gives audiences plenty of deft writing and makes a series of historical connections that, while perhaps obvious to some, have long been hidden in plain sight for many Americans." --Colin Dabkowski

Francisco Amaya demonstrates his harmonograph

During the most recent Allentown First Fridays event, I wandered into Sp@ce 224, an art gallery on Allen Street. I found the artist Francisco Amaya (a Buffalo ex-pat and erstwhile Infringement Festival participant) operating a homemade harmonograph which had produced a number of intricate prints that were hanging on the gallery walls. Here he demonstrates how the contraption works:

The exhibition is on view for about a month.

--Colin Dabkowski

Replay Thursday's Critics' Corner with Simon & Miers

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