Earlier this summer, Lisa Forrest, coordinator of reference services and library communications, and her colleague Irene Sipos, lecturer in the College Writing Program, sat at a café on Elmwood Avenue discussing the Rooftop Poetry Club at Buffalo State. Throughout the conversation, Forrest caught herself daydreaming about new and different places to hold the poetry club’s events. Forrest shared her thought with Sipos, who in return said a park would be a great venue. What was first a daydream evolved into the club’s new event series, the Olmsted Parks Poetry Project.
"Buffalo State is smack-dab in the middle of an amazing park system," Forrest said. "I thought about how great it would be if we could work outside and enjoy it." As the driving force behind the Rooftop Poetry Club, Forrest and Sipos have designed the Olmsted Parks Poetry Project to celebrate Buffalo State’s Year of the City. The project connects poetry with Buffalo’s parks, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted.
"When Olmsted came to Buffalo in the 1860s, he set out to design a city within a park," Forrest said. "What we have today is a system of interconnected parks, with some close to the Buffalo State campus."
One of the most famous parks Olmsted designed is Central Park in New York City. "Many people don’t realize we’re in the middle of a park system designed by the same person who created Central Park," Forrest said. "Exploring new things about Buffalo makes the city a broader canvas to learn from."
The Olmsted Parks Poetry Project is a series of events. Students, faculty, staff, and community members are invited to join the Rooftop Poetry Club for guest speakers and workshops. Each speaker has strong ties to Buffalo and a depth of knowledge about the parks. After hearing the guest speakers, participants are invited to join in workshop activities led by Forrest and Sipos.
This free community-based poetry series begins September 7 and will continue through November 16. At each of the seven workshops scheduled, an author, poet, or musician will be featured, setting the mood for that day’s location and activities.
"A lot of times, poets get a bad rap for only writing about their own lives," Forrest said. "This is a chance to see poets reaching out to the community. We want to use the gift of poetry to show Buffalo in a brighter light."
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