For the past seven and a half years since I first moved here, Buffalo, NY has been a City with a lot of passion and rust belt underdog mentality. Yes, like any city it has its issues, but over the past couple of years it has been going through a massive revival, and the Buffalo arts scenes are no exception. The poetry scene over this time has been nothing but a shining example of the artistic re-emergence of the Queen City.

Spoken Word: Buffalo Style

The poetry scene here in the city of Buffalo, slowly but surely, has been gaining its own national recognition.

The efforts of Slam Poetry collectives like Living Poets Society (LIPS) and Pure Ink Poetry have produced a variety of names such as Irving “Team” Finks, Solomon Dixon, Brandon Williamson, Skylar Jaye, Megan Specksgoor, Tom Dreitlin, all who’ve competed in the National Poetry Slam over the past few years. The majority of them were coached by Marquis Burton A.K.A. Ten Thousand, a local influence in the community, who has been a mentor to so many and has taken his words to the stage nationally for several years.

They have also brought in representing poets in the Women of the World Poetry Slam (WOWPS), such as Bianca L. McGraw, and poets such as Lazyrus, who has represented Buffalo in the Individual World Poetry Slam (IWPS), and NyJohn Washington who will be taking the stage this October as well. Also, there is Eve Williams whose personal and sociopolitical realms of poetry cross the fine line between the poet and the storyteller and has been published under her Facebook Page Unfiltered with nationally recognized sources such as AFROPUNK and Kinfolk Collective.

Written Word: Buffalo Style

Regarding written publication, writers who also were part of National poetry slam teams past and present include names such as Ben Brindise and Megan Kemple, are also featured currently in the Poet’s House Exhibition in NYC, along with well-established poet and writer Justin Karcher, whose existential style is one of a kind. Cringe-Worthy Press, run by an eclectic group of talented writers - Nathaniel William Stolte, Julio Montalvo Valentin, Jennifer Skelton, Mistral Celeste Khan-Becerra - scour the country on frequent poetic road trips, throughout a variety of cities from Kansas City to San Francisco, have made Buffalo‘s Independent Press scene something to talk about.

The countless poetry reading series run by local legends like Dr. Scott Williams, Fred Whitehead, and many more, have shaped the landscape of poetic connections on a national scale as well, inviting readers from Pennsylvania and all over the Mid-Atlantic, and further on.

Whether it is tearing it up on stages all over the country, or bringing Buffalo’s great works across it, much like its city, the poetry scene is on a high rise and it doesn’t seem like this train of influence is going to be derailed anytime soon.

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