Small Buffalo reading a uniquely Tulsan experience

Local Tulsans Laura and Nate Knapp have opened their home up to provide a platform for poets.

There’s always anxiety when entering a strange individual’s home. Walking up to the grey house, red door, six-pack in hand, there was no certainty that this would be a comfortable experience. Stepping in, though, and greeted by the loveliest people, the night quickly seemed to lighten.

A welcoming home, just west of Yale, hosts the newly conceived poetry reading series known as Small Buffalo, with a small, plush toy being the official mascot of the occasion. The progenitors, Laura and Nate Knapp, graciously invited anyone and everyone into their humble abode to partake in an evening of literary entertainment and discourse. Originally, they hosted a reading series in Stillwater and wished to further this event and community while living in Tulsa. It was surely an intimate environment made comfortable by the luster of those attending the reading.

While the attendees trickled in, the party, as mentioned on their flyer would precede and follow, began on the back porch as all clustered in mutual dialogue. Everyone was asked to bring items to share as an “entry fee” so there were drinks and dainties in copious amounts.

And it seemed that the social exchanges were so intoxicating that the poetry simply slipped our minds. In the unassuming group of people gathered in discourse, all were essentially published authors, anthologized, editors of national and community literary publications. Amongst this crowd were a few of the Tulsa Artist Fellows, expressing increasing gratitude for their place in our city. Through the humility and amiability of all of the collected individuals, the genius became only more apparent.

As the congregation made its way around the living room window, the conversation continuously flowed finally coalescing in directed attention at Clare Paniccia, a poet attending Oklahoma State as a graduate student, her works ached of bygone sores reading boldly: “this is an ethnography of tearing down.” She prefaced her works saying, “we’re starting on a light note,” drawing a great chuckle from all of the guests. Every syllable performed a character of tedious desperation. Yet her finale was a brilliant piece entitled by a riddle and using this element masterfully as a cloak for greater feeling, weaving humor throughout darker sentiments.

Following Panicciawas the Tulsa Artist Fellow Mark De Silva, a delightful person who expressed great joy at the opportunity to simply write and produce during his fellowship. A PhD in philosophy, his fiction reading painted a psychological portrait of two young women found in life’s mire. The detailed minutiae provided ocean-trench depth and a vessel for philosophical inquiry that expressed a longing for answers. Yet, it all centered around a brief trip to the deli for groceries and high-end cigarettes, which dashingly displayed the skill of his craft.
A brief interlude followed Mark De Silva, with Nate Knapp, as emcee, expressing that if the reading became too tedious it would be similar to the church experiences of distant childhoods.

Post-break, Lewis Freedman began reading his poem, “I Want Something Other Than Time.” Freedman lives in Stillwater, publishing several collections of poems which equate simply to modern day linguistic wizardry. His genuine intellect is a delight to not only converse with, but participating with his auditory text allows the listener an experience that could not be facilitated otherwise. He wove metalingual abstractions with the concrete moments of life’s tedium to present a portrait of human consciousness that is both beautiful and wrenching.
A very brief intermission of group singing to break up any impending doldrums followed, leaving all of the participants smiling.

The finale was Liz Blood, the editor of the Tulsa Voice. Her poetry portrayed a witty discourse of her childhood experiences, abstracting much of the simplicity of those things taken for granted, such as birth. A crowd favorite was the poem entitled “Michael Jordan,” after her pet turtle of the same name. One day, the turtle simply disappeared, leaving Blood to speculate that the turtle was as magical as MJ himself.

An endearing evening, in a cozy, hospitable home, with elite artists presenting the work’s of their minds and souls; it was an experience worth repeating many times over. Keep your eyes out for flyers and word of the next reading of the series to come in the next couple of months.

Post Author: Thomas von Borstel