Ted Pelton, the chair of humanities at Medaille College and publisher of Startcherone Books, teamed up with a colleague, Ethan Paquin, the director of the creative writing program at Medaille for the event. He met Paquin while attending a similar literary gathering several years ago.

“We met at the Big Small Press Fest in Amherst, Mass.,” Pelton said. “We ended up hiring him at Medaille, and we knew Buffalo would be a great place for doing (this kind of festival). There are many people doing small presses, writing poetry, and who are frustrated with commercial networks who cater to the New York City crowd. We knew we’d have a groundswell of people.”

And the festival did attract many from in and around the region. Pelton said that around 300 came to the various events. Participants came from Syracuse, Rochester, and southern Ontario, including Toronto. Others came from as far as Montreal, Massachusetts, and Illinois. Participating presses and organizations included BOA Editions, CLMP (Council of Literary Magazines and Presses), Cuneiform Press, Kiosk, Oneiros Press, Blaze VOX, Slope Editions, Startcherone Books, Verse Press, White Pine Press, and the WNY Author’s Alliance. The varying publishers and writers gelled together well, appreciating and experiencing one another's knowledge of the industry and their work. “We wanted to get together a lot of small magazines and self publishers and get them talking, not just an academic crowd, but also a guy who publishes books about memories of times as a boy in Adirondacks and self-published mystery writers,” Pelton said.

On Friday, Oct. 10, a variety of panels were hosted at the Medaille campus. Panels on self-publishing, undergraduate literary magazines, and how to find your audience ran through the early morning and afternoon.

The afternoon featured the Small Press Mega Reading. Palm trees and Hawaiian leis welcomed a small crowd in the Medaille lecture hall. Readers showcased a delightful show of emotion through their written words. Poetic themes ranged from children’s perspective to Christian duties to the blurring of boundaries between celebrities and politicians and the market economy.

On Friday evening, poets Tomaz Salamun and Thom Ward read at the Just Buffalo Literary Center. Salamun, a native of Croatia and Slovenia, has emerged as a leading poet of Central Europe. He has published more than thirty collections of poetry.

Saturday, Oct. 11, featured a continuation of the educational panels, including a discussion with the CLMP and a history of women in small presses.

Saturday afternoon, the city experienced a new avenue in literary reading. Word lovers could participate in a reading crawl, with readings at Rust Belt Books, Talking Leaves, and Just Buffalo Literary Center.

Pelton acknowledged the importance of keeping the features of the event in the city. “(We wanted) an urban event,” Pelton said. “So many literary events are at UB. They’re great events but (they) cut off Buffalo.”

A Brown University professor of English and comparative literature and an established poet, Forrest Gander, gave the keynote reading of the festival at Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center on Saturday night. Gander also is the director of the graduate program in literary arts. He edits Lost Roads Publishers with poet C.D. Wright.

Gander began with a poem from our local literary laureate Robert Creeley, “Rain.” Gander said that he thought that beginning with the poem was appropriate for Buffalo. He also read several new works, including “The Mission,” a tale of how fragile intimacy can be, and “Ligatures,” a realistic poem inspired by the poet’s sometimes difficult job of raising his 17-year-old son.

Gander also presented the audience with a translation of a Spanish poem. Pelton said that he hoped the festival would continue. “I think we will continue it,” Pelton said. “There is too much momentum here for it to disappear.”

By Nicole Schuman

For two days, Buffalo opened a door for local writers wishing to share their works and, they hope, to learn to profit from their musings. B.I.L.L., the Buffalo Indie Lit Luau showcased a slew of literary happenings, from publishing workshops, a small press bookfair, and mega-open mics to reading crawls through the city and dramatic showcases of modern day poetic superstars.