Babel’s Patti Smith and her “monastic mess”


After waxing on about the “Lovecraftian” look of downtown Buffalo—the morning’s fog still hadn’t lifted by 6:45pm during my drive along the 190 to Kleinhans—Patti Smith disarmed the largest crowd in Just Buffalo Literary Center‘s Babel history with the words: “If you get bored or tired just tell me. We can talk about anything.” It’s […]

Overtaken by the story … Babel’s Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


The change was gradual, but 2014-2015 really cements it for Just Buffalo Literary Center‘s Babel series. What began as a venue for renowned writers to read their works and engage the audience in a conversation about story genesis and process has become somewhat of a publicity tour. Is this a natural evolution? Perhaps this year’s […]

Writing holds a mirror to your inner self … Babel’s David Henry Hwang


Two plus months and a few snowstorms later, David Henry Hwang finally made it to Buffalo. The second speaker in Just Buffalo Literary Center’s 2014/2015 Babel Season, Hwang probably would have waited even longer if the elements necessitated. He’s that generous a human being. Artistic Director Barbara Cole illustrated such with an anecdote concerning a […]

The least cool writer in all of New York City … Babel’s Colum McCann


Irishman Colum McCann was a breath of fresh air at the 2014-2015 season premiere of Just Buffalo Literary Center‘s Babel last night for one reason—he didn’t live a tragic life. His talk left a little to be desired as an agenda to talk about how literature and art is the truest path to peace proved […]

Babel’s Abraham Verghese teaches Buffalo the difference between curing and healing


It is interesting to see how Just Buffalo Literary Center’s Babel series has evolved over the years. Beyond locale (now residing at Kleinhans Music Hall after its origins in Asbury Hall at Babeville), artistic director (Barbara Cole seamlessly transitioning on from Michael Kelleher), and audience (last night’s crowd had to be the largest since Salman […]

You are the ambassador of your race: the human race … Babel’s Suzan-Lori Parks


It wasn’t until Just Buffalo Literary Center‘s Artistic Director Barbara Cole took the stage that I noticed something out-of-place: a microphone stand. I’m not entirely sure when its last appearance was, but I distinctly remember the vehemence of the audience when whoever used it couldn’t be heard. Everyone else seemed cognizant of the problem too […]

Don’t let *blank expletive blank* affect your inner calm … Babel’s Amy Tan


As Just Buffalo Literary Center‘s Laurie Dean Torrell went through her thank yous before Artistic Director Barbara Cole’s introduction of the night’s speaker, she gave us a statistic that posited how ticket sales for the event only fulfilled about a third of the costs incurred to produce it. While I’m sure it was an accurate […]

Never give a Cuban a microphone … Babel’s Richard Blanco


The 2013-2014 season of Just Buffalo Literary Center’s Babel series start a tad late as the largest contingent of audience members since Salman Rushdie (or perhaps ever) shuffled into Kleinhans to see Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco talk about his career and inspiration. Even after a nice poem written and read by one of the artists […]

David Simon speaks on the failure of the War on Drugs


While the first time visiting the Chautauqua Institution—a non-for-profit, 750-acre educational center set up as an experimental, out-of-school educational spot for vacation learning—David Simon was very much aware of its existence and mission towards the “American spirit”. Bolstered by an anecdote to prove as much, the former Baltimore Sun beat reporter turned TV icon shared […]

Nothing human is alien to us … Babel’s Julia Alvarez


The last installment of Just Buffalo Literary Center‘s sixth season of Babel made for an intriguing night. From the Talking Leaves Books counter being moved farther from the parking lot doors for the first time since being at Kleinhans to the playing of a Christmas song while waiting for Barbara Cole to take the stage […]

Writing the truth … Babel’s Alexandra Fuller


With what might have been the largest audience Just Buffalo Literary Center’s Babel series has seen since Salman Rushdie, novelist Alexandra Fuller brought the house down with her unparalleled candor and humor. Without notes or books to read she treated her lecture as she would one of her works—a carefully composed soliloquy spanning a life […]