Buffalo poets share award-winning work

The Geneseo Poet Society and the Department of English celebrated National Poetry Month with a reading on April 19. The event featured Buffalo area poets Ben Brindise, Justin Karcher, Megan Kemple and Aidan Ryan, who read pieces dealing with diverse topics ranging from grief to social justice. 

Assistant professor of English Lytton Smith opened the reading, praising the performing poets for their excellence with both spoken-word and written poetry. 

“There is a sense of energy, possibility and necessity [in their poetry], and especially now in America there’s a need for that,” Smith said. 

Fiction and poetry writer Brindise was the first performer of the night. A teaching artist at the Buffalo Literacy Center, Brindise was voted Best Poet and Best Local Writer at the Best of Buffalo Artvoice Awards in 2015. He recently published his first spoken word chapbook, Rotten Kid—which is a collection of six poems and two short stories—with Ghost City Press. His writing has been featured in many publications, including Foundlings Poetry Magazine, Ghost City Review and Artvoice.

“Almost everything we write can be brought back to our environments, societies and experiences,” Brindise said. 

His first poem of the night, also featured in Rotten Kid, was a beautiful piece that discussed growing up and making one’s mark on the world. 

“You Became a Flower in the Most Poetic Way” and “To See Them Weightless” are products of new experimentations in Brindise’s writing—but all of his work deal with similar themes, including childhood trauma and imagination. He closed his portion of the reading with his final poem featured in Rotten Kid.

Playwright and poet Karcher followed Brindise’s performance. Karcher is the co-artistic director and playwright in residence at Theater Jugend in Buffalo. His recent works have been published in The Rain Party and Disaster Society and Funk Fiction.

During his performance, Karcher spoke with enthusiastic hand gestures, as he shared five poems with the audience, most of which included hilarious images. Karcher still, however, maintained a visceral and emotive quality throughout the reading.

Next was Kemple, a Just Buffalo Literary Center teaching artist. Her plays have been produced by Buffalo United Artists, American Repertory Theatre of Western New York, Road Less Traveled Productions and Niagara University. Additionally, Kemple’s poetry has appeared in Foundlings Poetry Magazine and Feminspire. She is also the author of two chapbooks, American Blasphemies and Accidental Intimacies

Kemple shared four poems with the audience, including “The Birthday Card” and “America, My What Big Teeth You Have.” Her final poem discussed the Brock Turner sexual assault case. Kemple’s poems kept to a socially conscious motif, which was received with much approval.

The final poet of the night was writer and educator Aidan Ryan. Ryan, too, is a teaching artist at the Just Buffalo Writing Center and a co-editor of Foundlings Poetry Magazine. Ryan has had pieces published in various journals and magazines, including Octavius, The Sigma Tau Delta Rectangle and The Public.

Ryan shared eight poems at the reading, covering a wide range of topics, from office life to grief. He included poems from his book, Organizing Isolation, which will be released on Friday April 28. The entire work has no type, but is made of individually cut letters, showing that each poem has a different “voice.”

The reading was an inspiring success, which was evident in the silence that could be heard during the poets’ pauses between stanzas. The audience was captivated by their words and images—left unable to stop thinking about the power of poetry.