LEWISTON – Poetry verses and musical notes will fill the air during the new “Lewiston Arts Café” sessions kicking off Feb. 11 – a nod to the traditions of 1960s coffeehouses.

The café, which is a partnership between the Lewiston Council on the Arts and Just Buffalo Literary Center, will be held at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday every other month (except August) through November. The events will be held in the Lewiston Opera Hall, 732 Center St.

Kicking off the new program will be local poet and author E.R. Baxter III at 7 p.m. Feb. 11, along with musician Alison Pipitone.

Baxter believes there’s more poetry in a broken-down factory than in a bouquet of roses.

“Everybody writes poetry,” he said. “I just kept at it longer than some, and wrote more slowly, too. If you divide the number of words by my age, I’d be lucky to average a word a week.”

Baxter said when he chooses poems for readings, “I try to choose poems that do that magic thing, make pictures in the listeners’ minds, and result in a feeling. Once I wrote that, I’ve often been to poetry readings where the best poem read all evening was eight words: ‘And for the last poem I’ll read tonight.’  I try to make it so people can’t say that about my poetry.”

According to Irene Rykaszewski, executive director of the Arts Council, “Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky once said, ‘Reading a poem silently instead of saying a poem is like the difference between staring at sheet music and actually humming or playing the music on an instrument.’

“We agree and are very pleased to partner with Just Buffalo Literary Center to present this new program of spoken word and original music in Lewiston,” she added. “Our goal is to provide access to high-quality cultural experiences in Niagara County and to expand opportunities for artists to present their original work. This series represents a new direction for the Arts Council, and we are so excited to complement poetry readings with the performance of original music.”

Pipitone is also well known on the Western New York music scene.

She has toured extensively, and her band has opened for artists including Joan Jett and The Blackhearts, the Bacon Brothers, Martha Wainwright, Barenaked Ladies and the Billy Bob Thornton Band.

According to an album review in “Rockzillaworld,” an online alternative music magazine, “Alison Pipitone writes poetry that rocks. She’s one part cover girl, two parts Springsteen, one part Liz Phair, and a bucket-full of Kurt Cobain. Blended together with a whiskey-laced voice, she’s a powerful concoction of lyric-driven, folky alternative rock with sharp, 100-proof melodies and scorching full-on performances.”

Pipitone has won more than a dozen area music awards after touring the country and earning a national fan base, which recently fully funded her next CD through an online campaign.

Barbara Cole, artistic director of the Just Buffalo Literary Center, said, “Collaborations are at the heart of everything Just Buffalo does. Our mission is to create and strengthen communities through the literary arts. When the Lewiston Council on the Arts reached out to us about this, we found it would be a perfect fit with our mission.” Future presentations for the Lewiston Arts Café include: poet Perry Nicholas and musicians Maria Sebastian and John Brady on April 8; poet Jennifer Campbell and musician Tom Stahl on June 10; and poet Ken Feltges and musician Dee Adams on Sept. 9. The series will wrap up Nov. 11 with two circles of award-winning poets and musicians presenting their original works, one poem and one song at a time.

These events are partially funded by the Arts Niagara Decentralization Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts, administered by the Arts Services Initiative.

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