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Just Buffalo Poets Reflect

June 22, 2023

Installation view of the Robert and Elisabeth Wilmers Building of the Buffalo AKG Art Museum. Photo: Jeff Mace for Buffalo AKG Art Museum

Long before the Buffalo AKG Art Museum opened to the public, some of the first people we wanted to see it were poets. Specifically, we wanted the amazingly talented wordsmiths at Just Buffalo Literary Center to tell us what they imagined for the new museum. Just Buffalo Writing Center Coordinator Robin Jordan and a small crew of young writers toured the campus while the museum was under construction looking for inspiration. Here are a few of the poems that came out of it.

The Gallery Echoes

By Isabella Lamberty

We are naturally made of art
And made to make art.
Us, humans, you and me
Writers and painters
Us, pieces of it all

The priceless things we can create here
The kind of things that soothe storming water
And the glances of others, the steps on the stairs
Things that help create
The greatest gallery of all

We are naturally born to create and recreate
Sometimes the artist only knows so much
The meaning is undecided, left up to fate
No maker has to suffer or feel pain
In this echoing gallery

Art is the best thing you could ever do
It'll still shriek loudly even long after you
Because we naturally are
pieces of masters
Coming together
But even far apart
We imprint on each other
And draw on our hearts

In the echoes of the gallery walls
We're just pieces of a master
And a master of a piece
We can create disaster
And we can spark peace.

Behind us are our muses
But beyond us are our fuses
To create and recreate
We could sit here and just make
We could sit and rewrite our fate
This could echo in the walls
Of the gallery.

People sitting on a green lawn
Visitors enjoying the Great Lawn. Photo: Jeff Mace

Under Common Sky

By Zelda Abramovich

you see yourself reflected in the ceiling

in front of an oak tree
surrounded by fields of sweet grass

a child once more.
high in its branches
until you tumble;

you sit on a bench
enveloped in a courtyard of stone

the rolling hills
replaced by graceful archways and intricate marble
that call out
unanswerable questions

the  leaves from the tree above you
brush past your palm

and for a moment
the great protector

you watch as the tree tumbles
the branches that once held up the world snap like the bones in your hand
leaves hit the ground like raindrops

blurred through your tears                                                           you see one last reflection


intertwined with snakelike wires and blocks of cement

a new tree, planted in steel and glass
            mess of limbs and sky
you lie under it


everything is quiet



I am sitting under the tree in the future
It is raining
But I am warm
I don't dare describe it
For I can not tell you why the birds sing;
The seasons change;
The leaves fall.

And when I look up once more:
I don't see a reflection

But an expanse of blue
Deep as the ocean
Stretched over every single tree

Living together
Under Common Sky

A mirrored, kaleidoscopic dome-like canopy over a courtyard full of people
Installation view of Common Sky, 2022, by Studio Other Spaces (German, established 2014), Olafur Eliasson (Icelandic, born Denmark, 1967), and Sebastian Behmann (German, born 1969). Painted structural steel, stainless steel, glass, and mirror foil. Collection Buffalo AKG Art Museum. Acquired with support from the New Carlsberg Foundation and General Purchase Funds, 2021. Photo: Jeff Mace


By Abuk Aleu

Common meaning occurring, found or done often
         Pastel hurling fist at worn-out beings
    —lead tips cleaving at edges; teeth chipping at wood
    I am trying to make sure the folds in my throat vibrate long enough for you to hear sound and
not just the siren
Common meaning shared by, coming from or done by multiple
   God’s hand uncovering mouth: an echo
       and the rippled waves caught in between teeth:what we used to peel away at palpability
          Which is to say: here is where we make half whole
Here is where we find ourselves curated in every image but our own
Common meaning of the most familiar type
Let the record reflect—distance can be computed by how much we say without twisting our
tongues and fishing for words that will never come
The reverberations being solid ground and the noun we
And the streaks of pigment: loose bondage—
     Because we exist outside of ourselves
     Because art is a mirror and life its reflection
So on a random Monday, I imagine English honors Latin’s “co”
Translation: this space lies here for you
Translation: “o” is how we’ve measured understanding
Meaning: let me lOOk at you
Let me speak to you in a silence that’s merely conceptual
That is to say: I am trying to reach you

Now that the museum is open, we can't wait for Just Buffalo's poets to return and see the Buffalo AKG Art Museum fully realized. Be sure to check out all of Just Buffalo's events, programs, and fellowships

You may have seen Aleu's poem featured in our bimonthly members' calendars. For events listings, exclusive interviews, photos, and more, considering becoming a member