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Grain & Verse

Poetry, Music, and Visual Art Converge in the 12th Season of the Silo City Reading Series



For over 45 years, the Just Buffalo Literary Center has brought the world’s most dynamic writers to Buffalo, hosting poetry events and readings, and supporting young writers’ development. “We believe in the love of reading, the art of writing, and the power of the literary arts to transform individual lives and communities.” The Just Buffalo Literary Center fosters a vibrant cultural scene, an important regional asset, and is becoming one of the nation’s top literary centers.


Curating Just Buffalo is Noah Falck. Falck moved to Buffalo in 2012 after teaching elementary school in Dayton, Ohio for ten years. He worked as Education Director at Just Buffalo Literary Center until 2023, when he shifted to the Literary Director position, working with schools, cultural partners, writers, artists, teachers, and administrators to bring creative writing and literature into schools and the community. 



Falck says, “Poetry is a record of our best uses of language. Poems are empathy machines; they have the ability to stop time and open up new realizations in the self and the world. They can give us hope and give us pause. And I think the world would be a better place if we took the time to engage with poetry on a more regular basis, both individually and as a community.” 


In 2013, he started the Silo City Reading Series, a multidisciplinary poetry series that includes musical acts and visual art installations, bringing together the best of Buffalo’s arts and cultural community to interact with some of the most dynamic poets from Buffalo and beyond in the historic grain silos known as Silo City at the edge of the Buffalo River. 


Hanif Abdurraqib by Nancy J. Parisi

With the 12th season of the series in 2024, Falck reflects:

Why the silos? 

The first time we went to the silos back in the fall of 2012, shortly after we moved to Buffalo, it felt like we were walking inside a poem with all the histories and mysteries echoing around us. It felt like the beginning and end of the earth. When we left it was impossible to not imagine the possibilities of the silos, both as a natural space for poetry & performance, but also as a symbol of hope and transformation. When my friend, Joe Hall, reached out the following month asking if I knew of any places to hold a book release party — I could only think of the silos. That’s how we landed there.

What have been the benefits and challenges of this location?

I think the benefits and the challenges have been pretty similar. The brutal beauty, the rust and decay, the monumental-ness of the silos can be both overwhelming and inspiring. The sound can be tricky for some, and a revelation for others. The accessibility has been difficult, but every year the folks at Silo City have made improvements and have been considerate and thoughtful in how they go about doing so.

What is your inspiration?

So much inspires me and gives me hope. The poems, the poets, the music, the art, the echoes, the energy, the light on the silos during the golden hour of the day. The opportunity to engage our community with the minds and language of our most cherished living poets. The chance to lift up and celebrate the local talent that live and work in our city. The untapped potential of Buffalo acts as a sort of fuel. 

How do you select your readers?

We have a notebook full of poets we add to frequently. Poets we admire to no end [and] poets who seem like they would be a perfect fit for the silos. Poets who open up new worlds. We also have poets contacting us regularly who want to read in the grain silos, and we consider those poets too. Each summer we hope to invite a variety of voices into the silos, voices that are addressing and investigating the contemporary movement, [and] voices that will help us see ourselves differently.

What are your goals with this series and with the Center as Literary Director?

The goal of the series has been to try to create an experience at a poetry reading that will change how people think about or consider the artform. We want to keep evolving, growing, and adapting with the site, and ultimately raise an awareness that Buffalo is and always has been a place for poetry.


Maggie Smith by Nancy J. Parisi

Just Buffalo Literary Center will be celebrating its 50th year in 2025, and the work that has come out of the organization since the beginning, in my opinion, is nothing short of remarkable. The work is driven by the mission of creating time and space where individuals and communities can have transformative experiences with literature and language. Just Buffalo creates multiple access points where people can find this, from (to name a few) the renowned BABEL lecture series, to the free after school Writing Center for teenagers, through in-school writer residencies, or inside a grain silo in the middle of summer. "As Literary Director, I want to continue to support these programs and initiatives in the years ahead and listen and work to cultivate a sense of wonder and appreciation for literature in our community and beyond," Falck says.


Celebrate and experience the rich literary and artistic culture within Buffalo. Check out justbuffalo.org for more writing workshops, presentations, youth fellowships, and a wide array of arts and cultural opportunities. 


Jericho Brown by Pat Cray

2024 Silo City Reading Series

June 15: Poet Fred Moten, and poet/translator/aerialist Christina Vega-Westhoff, New York-based improvisation musician Brandon Lopez, and Buffalo painter, Bree Gilliam. 


July 27: Poets Michael McGriff and Cindy Juyoung Ok, Austin-based regret pop band Sun June, and visual storyteller Ariel Aberg-Riger. 


August 29: Poet Megan Fernandes performs with the yet-to-be-announced winner of the 2024 Just Buffalo Poetry Fellowship, musical performance by DJ B-Cutz & flutist Dayatra Amber, and a choreographed roller skating and visual installation curated by Barrett Gordon. 

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