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Reading series to showcase works of young writers

In the downtown loft of the Just Buffalo Writing Center, a poem by Robert Creeley, pasted in large, white letters on a window, is illuminated by the sun.

“Love comes quietly,/finally, drops/around me, on me,/in the old ways./What did I know,/thinking myself/able to go/alone all the way?”

At the Just Buffalo Writing Center (JBWC), no one is alone. People are surrounded by the words and voices of their peers.

JBWC, a part of Just Buffalo Literary Center, is a place of collaboration and inspiration. Open to all writers ages 12 to 18, JBWC offers free workshops on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:30 to 6 p.m., with topics ranging from “Introduction to Spoken Word” to “Make Your Own Chapbook.”

“The space has created an unbelievably amazing community of young writers, and has accelerated their introduction into a larger literary world,” said Hannah Nathanson, a sophomore at City Honors School who has been involved with JBWC for nearly a year.

Cayli (Sage) Enderton, a City Honors freshman who has been with JBWC for almost two years, explains that the center is more than just a place to push your writing to the next level.

“There’s always a group of people there to help me, a group of people that are my second family,” she said.

Robin Jordan, the coordinator of JBWC, said that getting her job felt like winning a prize.

“Each week, I get to help show young people how the reading and writing of literature can alter the way they see and interact with the world.”

Jordan and Noah Falck, Just Buffalo’s education director, were so inspired by the caliber of the center’s young writers that they decided to start a reading series to “highlight the work of Buffalo’s next generation of literary voices.”

The first reading in the Showcase Series will be held from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday at the center, 468 Washington St.

“It’s rare to find an event that focuses on the work of just one or two young people,” said Jordan. “I think it’s enormously important to highlight and celebrate the work being produced by young writers in Buffalo.”

For Hannah and Sage, the two young writers chosen to be featured in the first Showcase, the opportunity is both exciting and intimidating.

“Reading for the Showcase has a lot more pressure surrounding it,” said Sage. But she certainly doesn’t shy away from the pressure. Her love of writing shines clearly through the nerves.

“I want to create things, whether it’s novels or songs or poetry, or all of them,” she said. “It has too much of a purpose in my life to turn it into just a hobby.”

For Hannah, the Showcase is a chance for her to perfect her work.

“I really want to master my pieces,” she said, explaining that she records herself reading them and then listens to them in order to improve her performance. It’s also a way to really submerge herself in her work.

“When I recall what’s exciting about a poem … and where my inspiration is rooted to, the piece becomes reenergized,” she said.

But Jordan has faith in them, regardless of their nerves.

“Young artists are just as worthy of that kind of platform and attention,” she said about the Showcase.

In addition to the Showcase and the biweekly workshops, JBWC organizes events that celebrate Buffalo’s rising generation of young writers. The open mic series, Spotlight on Youth (SOY), is a way for writers aged 12-21 to test out some pieces on an audience “to try to figure out its vibes,” as Hannah put it. The next SOY open mic is on July 20 at Planned Parenthood on Main Street and is open to the public.

For more information, visit justbuffalo.org or the center itself.

While the poem on the window says, “Love comes quietly,” love certainly doesn’t come invisibly at the Just Buffalo Writing Center.

As Sage described it, “We’re all connected at JBWC. You never have to feel like you’re alone.”

Abigail Hopkins is a senior at Buffalo Seminary.