Buffalo Small Press Book Fair

Buffalo Small Press Book Fair

Yesterday I went to the sixth annual Buffalo Small Press Book Fair at the beautiful Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum. Held inside a beautiful, restored church complete with stained glass windows, the fair brought together small publishers, authors, poets, artists, zinesters, and enthusiasts of all of sorts! Hundreds of people filled the large space, milling through rows of tables set up for the vendors selling a plethora of book-related wares.

I wandered through the fair, trying to take in as much as I could and admiring all of the beautiful things for sale. Vendors turned out with everything imaginable — used books, letterpress prints, post and notecards, jewelry, bookmarks, screen-printed t-shirts (my favorite bore the slogan “Buffalo Hates You Too”), leather journals, hand-bound notebooks, zines, and books of poetry, art, and fiction.

Oh gosh, the books! They were so beautiful! So many of the small-press publications were simply stunning — artfully designed covers that in many cases were hand-printed or bound. I was crazy impressed with these pieces of book art.

In addition to hundreds of fascinating vendors, the Small Press Book Fair also featured readings by authors and poets, presentations, and workshops. I only had an hour to spend at the fair (silly job, taking me away from books), so I chose to use my limited time exploring the vendor tables. However, the workshops seemed really cool; participants could attend a presentation about the platen letterpress and make their own prints, make a thaumotrope, and learn about the art and process of screen printing. How cool is that? I wish I had had more time to spend there!

Although I didn’t get to do any of the special activities the fair had to offer, I had a wonderful time browsing the fantastic wares people had for sale. And of course, I couldn’t leave empty-handed! See the photo below for my purchases. I happily left the fair with a BSPBF program (free, printed by the WNY Book Arts Collective); a great “think make think” letter-pressed bookmark (does anyone know who the picture of the guy is?); In-Between, a 36-page zine by Aijung Kim; The Really Funny Thing About Apathy, a collection of short stories by Chelsea Martin; Circulation, a novella by Tim Horvath; and Modern Love, a piece of short fiction by Andrew Scott. The last three books are published by an independent press called Sunnyoutside, one of the publishers of which I had a nice chat with. I’m so excited to read all of these!

Buffalo Small Press Book Fair

I had an amazing time during my all-too-short hour of exploring the Buffalo Small Press Book Fair. There were amazing things to see, and many of the vendors were eager to chat. One, a poetry publisher, even managed to shed a new light on poetry for me! I confessed that I find poetry intimidating and that I’ll sometimes read a poem and panic because I have no idea what the poet is taking about. He told me that it doesn’t always matter what the poem is about; rather, what matters is how the poem feels to me. He said I don’t have to understand what the author means to like a poem; it’s such a flexible medium that I can like other things about a poem. I’m still a little bit confused, but I’m looking forward to trying to apply this philosophy next time I read poetry!

Next week, April 1, the WNYBAC is holding its fourth annual Edible Book Festival April 1! The international event brings together bibliophiles, book artists, and food lovers to “celebrate the ingestion of culture and its fulfilling nourishment. So if you want to devour books in a more literal way than usual, head to your nearest Edible Book Festival!

Has anyone else been to a small press book fair or have similar events in their cities?

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4 thoughts on “Buffalo Small Press Book Fair

  1. Oooh, this sounds like so much fun. I have been to kind of similar book fairs, but not as often as I would like.
    And that poetry publisher is absolutely right – sadly they teach it in schools as if there is just one way to understand poetry, and that it is all about what the poet was trying to say, but as somebody who writes poetry, I will openly admit sometimes the poet themself has no idea what they are trying to say! 😛 It really is a lot more about how you think and feel, and your personal reaction to it, much like it is with music. I have always felt poetry really sits in that odd space between language and music, it takes elements from both without fully submitting to either. Or maybe I’m just overthinking it.
    Anyway, I’m rambling. Great post! 🙂

    • I think you are exactly right about schools emphasizing too much the “meaning” of poetry. High school English was only four years ago for me, and I remember having so much trouble “interpreting” poems. It’s kind of a relief to find out I don’t have to do that!

      That’s a really beautiful idea about poetry taking elements of both music and language! I can totally see that — the rhythms, the visceral rather than logical flow/wording… Great thought!

      • Yep, I was the same in high school. I was the same as an undergrad in uni, too. It was only when I did some postgrad writing courses, and I did one on poetry with a fantastic lecturer and poet, who showed me how to write poetry, and once I understood writing poetry I suddenly realised how to read poetry, and realised how wrong the way I had been previously taught had been.
        Glad to know my idea about music and language made sense, I was worried I was just coming across like a loony 😛 But you certainly explained exactly what I mean! I think you can lose yourself in a truly good poem in much the way you can in a truly good song. 🙂

  2. I wish I’d know about this Fair! I only live about 2 hours from Buffalo.

    I agree with the previous comments. I disliked poetry in high school because of the clinical way it was taught- picking it apart until it was just a confusing mess. It wasn’t until I stopped trying to read and write poetry the way they said I was “supposed” to that I finally found I loved to both read and write it.

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