Over 100 writers, readers, and activists gathered at WNY Book Arts Center on Wednesday night for the Buffalo installment of Writers for Migrant Justice, a nationwide series of protest readings to benefit Immigrant Families Together (IFT). The night saw Buffalo's literary community raise a total of $1,090—more than double the organizers' goal of $500—toward IFT's efforts in paying bonds, legal fees, and relocation costs to release and protect detained migrants; providing medical needs, food, transportation, clothing, blankets, car seats, diapers, and more for families who have been released; offering temporary housing stipends to refugees who have been released but have no family in the U.S.; and much, much more.
Writers and national organizers Anni Liu, Christopher Soto, Jan-Henry Gray, and Javier Zamora called on literary communities in nearly 50 cities to organize readings in response to the current administration's increasingly cruel and unjust immigration and family separation policies. Peach Mag worked alongside the editors of fellow local literary journals Coffin Bell Journal and Ghost City Review to present Buffalo's contributing event, which featured an open mic marathon, micro book fair, and basket raffle.
Photo: Local poet Julio Montalvo Valentín reads a poem at the open mic. Credit: Natalie Brown.
The night saw more than 40 Buffalo-based poets, writers, and performers volunteer to read their work at the three-hour open mic, as well as local representatives from nearly 20 publishers, bookstores, and literary organizations—including Black Ocean, BlazeVOX [Books], Burning Books, El Buen Amigo, Foundlings Press, Green Buffalo Productions, Hostile Books, Just Buffalo Literary Center, Linoleum Press, POPPress, Pretty Cool Poetry Thing, Pure Ink Poetry, Rise Collaborative, Rust Belt Books, Second Reader, Sunnyoutside Press, Talking Leaves ... Books, and White Pine Press—vend at the micro book fair or donate to the basket raffle.
Video: Local actress Melinda Capeles and poet Matthew Bosque perform at the open mic.
We left Wednesday night full of positive energy and gratitude to have had this opportunity to bring together so many disparate members and groups within Buffalo's literary community in support of a cause we believe in. It's important, however, to iterate that real change goes beyond one night and can happen right now in our own city. Justice for Migrant Families WNY and Close the Camps Buffalo are two new volunteer-run collectives that are working to defend the dignity and rights of undocumented families in Western New York. They are currently seeking volunteers and funds to support their efforts in aiding, advocating, and organizing on behalf of undocumented families that have been affected by ICE and Customs and Border Authorities.
Get involved locally!
Justice for Migrant Families WNY:
Close the Camps Buffalo:
Canisius Borders & Migrations Initiative: