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Humorist David Sedaris to give talk, sign books at Talking Leaves

Humorist, best-selling author and National Public Radio "This American Life" essayist David Sedaris will visit Buffalo for a brief book talk and reading, followed by a question-and-answer session, beginning promptly at 6 p.m. on Friday, June 6th at Talking Leaves Books, 3158 Main Street in Buffalo.

Following the talk, which is a ticketed event and limited to 125 persons (tickets are available with the purchase of any one of Sedaris's books from Talking Leaves at any time between now and June 6th at no additional charge), Sedaris will sign any books that he has authored in an event beginning at 7 p.m. at Talking Leaves that is free and open to the general public.

Sedaris is on an unusual nationwide tour in support of independent bookstores in conjunction with the paperback release of his most recent collection of  essays "Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls" by  Little, Brown and Company.  Last October, he appeared as a guest in the University at Buffalo's Center for the Arts Speakers Series when the book was released in hardcover.

Sedaris is the author of nine collections of short stories and essays including his earlier books "Barrel Fever" (1994), "Me Talk Pretty One Day" (2000), "Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim" (2004) and "When You Are Engulfed in Flames" (2008). He has had over 40 of his stories and essays published in The New Yorker magazine since 1994, and over 50 of his radio essays have been featured on "This American Life" and other National Public Radio broadcasts since his "Santaland Diaries" was first aired on December 23, 1992.

In recent years, the question of whether Sedaris's work should be published and broadcast as nonfiction, fiction, or some comic-effect driven combination of the two has been raised by several critical commentators, most notably Alex Heard in a 2007 article ("This American Lie") in The New Republic that fact-checked several of the essays in Sedaris's 1997 collection "Naked."  While many critics concede that Sedaris does not purport to be a journalist, and that he freely admits to comic exaggeration, embellishment, and occasional outright invention in his essays (all of which his readers implicitly understand and accept as fictive techniques), they also point out that his work might not nearly sell as well, or be as popular as it is with public radio audiences were it marketed as fiction.

In 2012, prompted by a "This American Life" episode featuring writer Mike Daisey's monologue "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs" that the program's producers and NPR were forced to retract, the network reclassified "Santaland Diaries" and several other  Sedaris pieces as fiction, and indicated that it would fact-check his future contributions to "This American Life."

For additional information on the Sedaris talk and book signing, contact Talking Leaves Books at either its Main Street (716-837-8554) or 951 Elmwood Avenue (716-884-9524) location.

--R.D. Pohl

Live chat at noon: Miers on Music

Meet the BPO's new associate conductor


By Mary Kunz Goldman

Stefan Sanders, former Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra trombonist, is going to be returning to the orchestra in triumph, as its new associate conductor. Sanders, pictured above, will be succeeding Matthew Kraemer, who is leaving at the end of this season.

Sanders was one of five very qualified candidates who auditioned a few weeks ago for the high-profile position.

He is featured in a video The Buffalo News made of those auditions. Watch for him at about 1:10.

And, of course, watch for him on the podium of Kleinhans Music Hall, in the near future.

Riedy returns for 4th Friday Poetry Series reading

Buffalo area native Patrick Riedy returns to his hometown as the featured reader at this month's 4th Friday Poetry Series reading at 7 p.m. this Friday at Dog Ears Bookstore & Café, 688 Abbott Road.  Admission is $3, and there will be additional reading slots are available.

Reidy is the co-founder and editor of the chapbook publisher PressBoard Press.   He is the author of  four chapbooks of poems, including "Philadelphia: A Poetry Play," which is forthcoming in 2014 from Red Glass Books.

A 2012 graduate of the University at Buffalo, where he  was a student research assistant at the UB Poetry Collection and interned at the Western New York Book Art Center, Reidy is currently a Ph.D. candidate in English and teaching assistant at Syracuse University.

--R.D. Pohl

Live chat at noon: Miers on Music

Noah Falck introduces Just Buffalo Literary Center's new Writing Center

Today marked the opening of Just Buffalo Literary Center's new Writing Center, an airy, open room above the Western New York Book Arts Center that will host workshops and serve as a drop-in center for local students looking to develop their writing skills. JBLC Education Director Noah Falck kicked off the festivities, which included a series of poetry readings from students and professionals, and lots of smiles all around.

Look for more coverage of the space my column on Sunday, and check out the series of workshops it offers here.

And just for fun, here's an original poem read by Janna Willoughby-Lohr -- who was standing on an actual Just Buffalo Literary Center-sanctioned soapbox at the time -- during this afternon's event:


--Colin Dabkowski

Thursday Theater Roundup: Strong showings from JRT, Brazen-faced Varlets, Road Less Traveled and more

Eileen Dugan and Kristen Tripp Kelly star in the Jewish Repertory Theatre's production of "Body Awareness."

The Thursday Theater Roundup features currently running productions that have received three or more stars from our reviewers. Here are this week's picks:

"The Anastasia Trials in the Court of Women," through May 17 in a Brazen-faced Varlets production in Rust Belt Books. ✮✮✮✮

"The Plough and the Stars," through May 18 in the Irish Classical Theatre Company's Andrews Theatre. ✮✮✮

"Race," through May 18 in the Road Less Traveled Theatre. ✮✮✮✮

"Godspell," through May 18 in O'Connell and Company's theater in the Park School. ✮✮✮

"Adrift in Macao," through May 25 in MusicalFare Theatre. ✮✮✮

"Last Confession," through June 1 in Toronto's Royal Alexandria Theatre. ✮✮✮✮

"Body Awareness," through June 1 in Jewish Repertory Theatre's Maxine and Robert Seller Theatre. ✮✮✮½

"Gee's Bend," through June 1 in the Paul Robeson Theatre. ✮✮✮

Just Buffalo launches new Writing Center Thursday

Just Buffalo Literary Center will mark the official opening of its new Writing Center with a launch celebration from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday at its recently renovated second floor space at 468 Washington Street (above the Western New York Book Arts Center) near the intersection of Mohawk Street.

Among the activities planned for the celebration are "pop-up" readings featuring young writers involved Just Buffalo's various education and Spotlight on Youth programs, as well as readings by Just Buffalo's professional teaching artist staff, interactive writing games, live music, and (as the organization's press release notes, with an exclamation point) cake.

Although the second floor space has been in use since February for member events and the recently inaugurated Studio Reading Series, its launch as a Writing Center offering a full range of workshops, critique groups, and writing assistance services (including one-on-one assistance with homework and college readiness) represents a major initiative for Just Buffalo, tying its programs for writers of all ages and experience levels together in a common, multi-use location.

Robin Lee Jordan--a widely published, Buffalo-based writer of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction who received her MFA in Poetry from Oregon State University, teaches at the University at Buffalo, and serves as a youth mentor at Gay & Lesbian Youth Services of Western New York--will be the Just Buffalo Writing Center's coordinator.

In conjunction with the launch of its Writing Center, Just Buffalo has announced a  complete schedule of late spring and summer writing workshops beginning next week and extending through August.  The workshops will all be led by writers who serve as teaching artists in Just Buffalo's education programs, an impressive roster that includes poet Sherry Robbins, novelist and playwright Gary Earl Ross, playwright Neil Wechsler, writer and media artist Brian Mihok, performance poet Janna Willoughby-Lohr, poets Cheryl Quimba and Rachel Katz,  photographer and visual artist Catherine Linder Spencer, and poet-publishers Amanda Montei and Jon Rutzmoser, both Ph.D. candidates in the UB Poetics Program and co-editors of Bon Aire Projects.

All the workshops will be free, but limited to twelve participants per workshop by registration.  For a complete listing of the workshops and the dates they meet, or to pre-register, visit

--R.D. Pohl 

A closer look: 'Fargo Dinner'


Colleen Stillwell, left, and Dennis Maher will host a joint art and food event on Saturday. Photo by Ginny Rose Stewart.

Title: "Fargo Dinner" // Artists: Dennis Maher and Colleen Stillwell // Saturday in The Fargo House // Sold out

If art can be food and food can be art  -- and at this moment in Buffalo's cultural and culinary evolution, it would be straight-up foolhardy to dispute the notion -- then this new collaboration between architect and artist Dennis Maher and pastry chef extraordinaire Colleen Stillwell has to rank as an ideal marriage. On Saturday, 50 guests will filter through Maher's Fargo House, an ever-evolving sculptural creation where he lives and works as they experience "nine different courses in nine different atmospheres."

According to curator Claire Schneider, formerly of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and now working independently in Buffalo and elsewhere, "the ingredients, presentation and taste of each course will resonate with the rooms within which each plate is set."

"The cycling of guests and culinary delights throughout the house is meant to echo the movements of objects and materials that are continually reorganized within Maher's own living space," she continued. "Participatnts will metaphorically 'consume' the house -- its walls, floors, ceilings, furnishings and objects."

No word yet on exactly what the house will taste like, but if the sold-out event goes well, we can expect to see more such fusions of art and food in the future.

--Colin Dabkowski

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