just buffalo literary center

STUDENT POST: Give it a New Context: Creative Interaction with Found Quotes by Amber

During my time at JBWC, I wanted to explore the book collection and bring the texts on the shelf into our writings. I had the idea of planning a pre-workshop that leads us to the bookshelf, to find inspiration from words already written.

We each picked a book from the shelf, flipped it to a random page, and found a line that rang a bell or that we naturally gravitated to. Based on the quote, we created something new: a poem or a flash fiction piece. We took the quote out of its context and gave it a new home; in the new context, we incorporated the line to express what we wanted.

The line we chose showed something about ourselves but also took us somewhere new, which I realized as I wrote this poem inspired by lines from James Tate’s Dreams of a Robot Dancing Bee.


Marxist philosopher friend

By Amber


So, rather clumsily,

We apologized for not being in touch

Your gold rimmed glasses reflected a melancholy light

A thin layer of dust

Mumbled the shine of your old leather oxfords

Age is unforgiving,

You said as if that’s your excuse for having stopped sending written letters

So is capitalism,

We chuckled.

So is time,

We sighed.



Hemingway took the title of a story to title a new piece, which conveys a bleak scenario:


Why The Little Frenchman Wears His Hand in a Sling

(Title of E.A.P work)

By Hemingway

 

He had owed some people some money,

And had not realized they spoke French when he swore at them.

He had drunk too much and mad too many promises.

And so they came,

Back alley brawlers in possession of bravado and baseball bats

To knock him off of his pedestal of apathy.

He was short; it was easy to gain advantage, even easier when he finally lay down at their feet.

They called him a man full of mockery.

L'homme moqueur.

His crooked smile daring them to break his bones

Which they did.

Some other imaginative pieces came along. As in Robin’s, she took a turn and read a line through the lens of environmental issue.



“Though he feared Death and Hell, the sound of an axe in the grove frightened him more” (Robert Graves, The White Goddess)

By Robin


Because many became few

Became awe became “mother I’m not sure I ever

Saw.” Every table a corpse.

Every house a skeleton.

Every pencil a finger no longer used for pointing. What does

Hell matter when leaves are crisp memories?

When death is all around us like wood chips?

If a tree falls in a forest but there is no forest, why ask?


Hannah’s piece about roaches is witty, heartfelt, and full-of-life:


Inspired by The Daily Mirror, page 95

 By Hannah

 

Nothing Greater than love unless

It’s the primal urge to life

Of the roaches in this apartment

See-you tell me you really care about me, but these cockroaches, I mean they really don’t want to die.

Plus, I mean like I think it’s awesome that you are so passionate about things, but the cockroaches are really passionate about living they don’t see a compulsive need to talk about it ALL THE TIME.

And, you see, you say I make you want to live more than anything has ever made you want to live, but these roaches, they really just couldn’t survive without the messes you keep cleaning up.


Through this activity, I saw the malleability of words at play. The way we twisted borrowed words, making them fit into our own voice was fascinating; so was the fact that written words can give life to new creations.


“The Pair”

by Lucy

 

But it was still readable

After all the washes it’d been through

The silvery letters still shone

Glistening against her warm skin

The pair of twinning arms

Wave together the fabric of the mist

Binding her to him forever

She’d scrubbed at it for hours

But it was still readable.


Books, no matter old or new, providing us the source for new energy.  

JBWC Writers, Hannah and Trinity, Finalists in UB English/Poetics & riverrun Poetry Prize

In March, young writers of the JBWC, Hannah and Trinity, performed at University at Buffalo’s North Campus as finalists of the UB English/Poetics riverrun Poetry Prize. As part of the Robert Creeley Lecture and Celebration of Poetry, the winner was announced by judge and Just Buffalo’s Artistic Director, Barbara Cole, following the finalists’ readings. The winner, a senior from Nichols School, performed her winning poem alongside our JB poets.

Below are a few excerpts from Hannah and Trinity’s poems:

From “THE FIRE YOUR MOTHER HUGS FOR WARMTH” by Hannah

Surrender to the waves.

Time and time again,

love

backwards and forwards

and inside out.

You are the shirt left

on the floor, bruised.

That’s inevitable, really.

From “full of it” by Trinity

you’ve got tricks

and i’ve got ways

to avoid them.


you’ve got a talent for taxidermy,

but i won’t be your next

glassy-eyed, cotton-stuffed

baby deer.


(Note: Photos by Bruce Jackson.)

WRITING PICTURES, DRAWING STORIES

If a picture is worth a 1000 words, maybe a story is worth a 1000 images. Teaching artist, John Bateman, joined us last week to present a riveting workshop encouraging young writers to break the distinction between image and text.

John had students translate emojis into flash fiction and asked them to write in response to photos by Dana Hoey. See examples below!


Left alone and forgotten, one minute simply put against the tree, the next waiting for a hand to wrap the handle. A familiar warmth, growing colder as the fog moves in, seeping into the body of the polished wood. From a glance, you look nothing more than what you are, but in reality, you used to be important to someone who held you down.

– Sol


Renee is our resident starchild,

she sees through dimensions

layered like snowstorms on a weathered field

blinding light wafts in every color

she is here to take in the cosmos

She wades through a gulf of sand

from eras away.

Together like a sea

together like kin

together like a generation

Together like ground water

because who pays attention

to the storms each storm came from

but them? – Birch