Babel’s Toni Morrison on “keeping the reader alive and worried”

Leave it to the Pulitzer Prize, Nobel Prize in Literature, and Presidential Medal of Freedom-winning Toni Morrison to get me back into Kleinhans Music Hall for Just Buffalo Literary Center’s Babel series after two years away with special thanks going to Artistic Director Barbara Cole for letting Cultivate Cinema Circle piggyback onto the occasion with […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Starting and ending in doubt … Babel’s Nuruddin Farah

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 […]