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Memories of Cornershop


I Remember when Cornershop was just a corner storefront with no one occupying the space. Anya drove me by the site on our way to Friday fish fry. It was way over on Lafayette Street, and it seemed so far from "The Elmwood Strip." I wondered about Anya's safety but then cursed myself for being so bourgeoisie.

I Remember feeling very bad that I didn't help to paint Cornershop or to get it ready for its first exhibit. I thought to myself, you just missed your opportunity to be a part of history.

I Remember before Cornershop that people sat around, drinking in bars (Guinness and whisky mostly) and talking at length about how desperately Buffalo needed a space, and specifically, how desperately The Poetics Program needed a space downtown. (The University of Buffalo is located about 15 minutes by car from downtown Buffalo. Downtown Buffalo, apart from quite a few bars and The Elmwood Strip where there are quite a few restaurants, is basically a ghost town. The idea was to create some kind of a context for the community that would link the poetic activities of the university with the artistic and poetic activities of Buffalo. We didn't want to be poetically pontificating into the void; we wanted context, a place where our work could be heard by others aside from ourselves.)

I remember that Anya was able to distribute her energy equally among her video and visual art friends, and her poet friends. It was her ability to synthesize all these interests that made Cornershop such a success.

I remember how people marveled at the success of Cornershop, specifically, the way that Anya could so seamlessly blend together visual art, film, poetry, performance. The way she brought all the disparate communities together.

I remember setting up chairs at Cornershop and drinking several glasses of wine poured from a jug-o-wine.
I remember a feeling not unlike Astral Projection that I experienced while watching a Peggy Awesh film at Cornershop.

I remember some rather boisterous poetry boys who wanted to take over Cornershop and make it all poetry, all the time. Luckily this didn't happen.

I remember the creaky floor and how the walls were always getting cleaned. I remember setting up chairs at Cornershop, but not really doing much else.

I remember standing outside in the freezing freezing cold Buffalo winter, smoking a cigarette outside of Cornershop, talking about Karen Finlay and how the NEA was cutting funding to the arts.

I remember midnight on a beautiful summer evening, after a poetry reading, talking about Olson.

I remember driving to Cornershop in the rain, hoping that I would find a parking spot not too far away.

I remember walking home from Cornershop at 6am on a Sunday morning.

I remember when Vincent Gallo came to Buffalo to do auditions for Buffalo 66. He probably stopped by Cornershop.

The cities I have lived in are now maps within my memory. I can draw you a map of Buffalo starting from Cornershop and ending at Niagara Falls. The still point is Cornershop and the wheel that moves around it is Niagara Falls. This is all you need to remember about the laws of motion.

Kristin Prevallet