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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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 […]

Starting and ending in doubt … Babel’s Nuruddin Farah

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Deliberately enunciating his words, novelist Nuruddin Farah used a calculated cadence to talk about his tireless ability to find trouble. The second speaker in Just Buffalo Literary Center‘s 2012-2013 Babel series, his Somali roots provide a very interesting connection to Buffalo considering the nation’s past two prime ministers came from here. His own history with […]

Teaching us what it is to be human … Babel’s Russell Banks

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As novelist Russell Banks admitted during the first lecture of the 2012-2013 Just Buffalo Literary Center‘s Babel season, he is the series’ first participant with a clear “American accent”. I’m not sure if that fact made my brain marginalize his inclusion because he wasn’t some international luminary from an exotic corner of the world or […]

All new homes come with a clarinet … Babel’s Alexander McCall Smith

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The Michael Kelleher-less era of Babel began tonight with one of the biggest crowds the series has ever seen. If Alexander McCall Smith didn’t find himself standing before more audience members than Salman Rushdie two years ago, the numbers must have been close. But while the popular kilt-wearing author is probably used to the spotlight […]