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Art Making Art

April 19, 2022

Poets from Just Buffalo Literary Center crafting made-to-order poems at the Albright-Knox. Photo: Brendan Bannon

Poetry has always been an inspiration to us here at the Albright-Knox, a partner that has gone hand in hand with our exhibitions, our programs, and our education classes. April is National Poetry Month, and to celebrate we wanted to highlight one of our partners in the community that helps light up the museum with poetry: Just Buffalo Literary Center.

Just Buffalo has long brought notable writers to Buffalo, hosting poetry readings and events, and supporting the development of writers here in Buffalo, too. Just Buffalo’s Writing Center Coordinator Robin Lee Jordan has brought the organization’s young poets to the museum for their ongoing “made-to-order” poems. "JBWC writers have always raved about our made-to-order poem frenzies at the Albright-Knox over the years!” Jordan says. “These young poets remind museum visitors that there are so many ways to engage with the gallery and with art. They demonstrate the tenderness of art born from art, the joy that comes from spontaneous creation, the courage and importance of sharing something you've made with such immediacy, the feeling of interconnectedness we feel when making together and for each other.”

Tyepwritten poem: "A poem for Roscoe" seen over the background of a wall illustrated in black and white cartoon faces
A made-to-order poem by two Just Buffalo poets, Hemingway and Lucy, inspired by the exhibition Shantell Martin: Someday We Can, 2017. Photo: Robin Lee Jordan

If that doesn’t whet your literary appetite, this is what the young poets have to say for it:

"I've loved doing made-to-order poems with the Albright-Knox over the past several years. It's really a wonderful experience to be able to write poetry in the community: writing quick, short poems that share in the artistic experience of others. It's also a very collaborative experience—you're not only collaborating with the people who commission you, but also your fellow poets, as you divide up prompts and decide who'll be out writing poems and who wants to take the typewriter."

"I enjoyed watching people’s reactions to my work in real time. It’s an amazing visual representation of the energy exchange between the poet and the reader."

“Often as a poet, when all other inspiration runs dry, admiring and appreciating other people's art sparks something in a writer unlike anything else. Working with the Albright-Knox always reaffirms my belief in the necessity for separate art forms to collaborate in order to bring the best out of all artists.”
—Liam Rio

"The experience of writing for others will always have a special place in my heart. Even if the poem is three lines long, the personalization and closeness of a poem is something I love to see people receive."
—Danny, JBWC Youth Ambassador

But you don’t have to wait for the next exhibition to see these spontaneous collaborations in action. Watch Just Buffalo's teaser below and then order your own from their website! All proceeds go to Just Buffalo Writing Center to help them continue their great work. 


Not sure what to request? We might have some inspiration for you.