August 23, 2016
Matthew & James are known for organizing the Yes! reading series at the Albany Center Galleries & for their innovative pairing of readings with music, visual art, even dance. They are both writers of works that stretch & twist the boundaries of what we consider “texts”. Matthew is one of the publishers of flim forum press & both he & James have a number of chapbooks under their belts from various small, experimental presses.
Canyons is a beautifully produced book (by Patrick Kiley at Publication Studio, Troy, NY) of text, images & text&images inspired/engendered by the explorations of the Grand Canyon by “Wes” Powell in 1869 (& later in 1871/2). I can’t tell how much of the text is sourced in Powell’s writing or the photos (taken for stereoscopes of the time), but Canyons is more of an independent work of art rather than a document of American history. I’m still enjoying my copy.
You can find images from Canyons & more information about the book at James Belflower’s website. He also indicated that the recording of the sound-scape of the performance would eventually be posted there as well.
August 21, 2016
A hot night at the Social Justice Center, but some very cool poetry, with great support from members of the activist community for the featured poet, Schenectady poet & activist Martin Manley. Each month I invoke the Muse by reading a poem by some gone poet who is no longer here & this year the gone poets have been lining up faster than I can invoke them. Tonight’s Muse was the poet & activist Daniel Berrigan who died earlier this year; I read his poem “My Name” from the great anthology of Twentieth-Century Poetry of Witness Against Forgetting, edited by Carolyn Forché.
Richard Jerin had been waiting for me when I arrived to set up so he ended up as the 1st poet on the open mic list; he read a piece titled “It’s Not Made Up” inspired by last month’s reading here by Amani O+. Philomena Moriarty, who will be the featured poet here in December, said she hasn’t written many poems about her day job as a psycho-therapist, but read one tonight on that theme titled “Restoration.” Sylvia Barnard read a poem about antiquity (& talked about her first job at LeMoyne College where she barely crossed paths with Daniel Berrigan); the poem, “Doggerland,” was about the ancient land bridge connecting Great Britain to mainland Europe. Malcolm Willison came over from Schenectady with a 2-part poem inspired by a piece in the New York Times “Please Don’t Thank Me For My Service” & writings about PTSD, “No Thanks/That Other Place.” Karen Fabiane read a poem titled “I’m Insane” complete with a pork pie hat & foot massages & etc. I followed with a new, seasonal piece, “When Donald Trump Farts.”
Mojavi showed up too late to sign up for the open mic but I tacked him on at the end, & was glad he made it, to read a sad, bitter poem “Grieving from Paper.”
Join us at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY each third Thursday for an open mic with a featured reader from the local & regional poetry scene, 7:30PM a modest (or extravagant) donation supports poetry events & the work of the SJC.
|photo provided by Mark O'Brien|
We were in the Carriage Museum, with its historical facades, at The (Poetry) Hotel Altamont, with Alan Casline as MC.
Mike Jurkovic made the drive up from the mid-Hudson region & read poems from his last 2 books, including the marvelously metaphysical “Half-Shitty Days.” Albany poet Alifair Skebe read poems from a forthcoming collection from FootHills Publishing, Thin Matter, full of nature & light, birds & the Hudson River. Alan introduced Bob Sharkey as “upstate New York’s most experimental poet.” Bob included his poem about reading the book Scary People to his granddaughter & the equally scary “Things” that were in the back of W.T. Grants. Mark O’Brien read some memoir poems & a chicken version of a famous Poe poem, “Edgar Allen Wyandotte.”
Anne Rokeach, although she never met WRF, connected to him through the open mic at the Colonie Town Library that he founded & that is still going on. She read a poem from one of that group’s “word” assignments, as well as a poem for her dead dog, & one for “You.” I included in my reading my “Altamont Fair Poem” that might have been written for that reading back in 1992. Diane Sefcik’s poems were on themes from native people, including a pine grove, the desert, red ochre & the tradition of the “Give-away.” Alan Casline read a brief segment from his series “The Exile Poems” about the central figure of the poem at the end of his life.
All things considered I’d rather read at the Altamont Fair than be read at the Altamont Fair.
August 20, 2016
This series continues at Narvrona Restaurant with our host Thom Francis presenting Albany poet, performer & poetry entrepreneur Mojavi. I have known Mojavi since the earliest days of open mics in Albany & he was one of a handful of the artists who worked to link the black & white communities to share out work.
During the questions & answers with Thom Francis, Mojavi talked more about his childhood problems with speech, how he began at age 7 to write in notebooks so that he didn’t have to talk. He also talked in more detail about Soul Kitchen, even recalling a performance there by “those 3 white guys” Three Guys from Albany. He said Urban Guerrilla Theater was a chance to do his own thing, follow his vision & link up with some really good people. He was also part of the earliest Nitty Gritty Slam Team giving him a chance to take his art to other parts of the country.
Albany Poets Presents! is an on-going series every-other month at Navrona Restaurant, 289 New Scotland Ave., Albany, NY during which a poet/performer who has had an impact upon the local community is showcased with a reading, then an interview & questions & answers from the audience. For more details check out AlbanyPoets.com.
August 14, 2016
There’s always a good turnout here & especially so with the friends & family of the featured poet, Judith Prest (“if your friends & family don’t come to your readings, who will?”). Our host Catherine Norr keeping order.
There’s an exciting collection of young poets here at Arthur’s Market to talk, workshop & just plain hang out before the open mic & many sign up to read. First up was Sydney Lussier with a couple of journal type entries on “Mislaid Lessons” & on her anxiety of hanging out with friends. This was Megan Sherry’s first time here & she read a piece titled “Exoskeleton” remembering a friend who died last year. Sam Maurice explained that he attempted to write a female Hemingway hero, the result titled “For Everything Lost.” Samuel DeSantis read a complex piece, “That Dragon Cancer,” about a woman, roaring rain, & the disease like an invasive plant.
Spirit Wind Books) is her latest collection & contains not only her poems but her photos as well, nature poems with herons, the Adirondacks, the ocean in a beautifully produced book. From the 2011 Late Day Light (also Spirit Wind Books) she read poems as memory — of her youth during the Viet Nam War, a poem for her son, one in the voice of her great Aunt speaking from an asylum — & her memories as her entourage. It was a great way for her to celebrate her birthday, reading her poems to a rapt, appreciative audience.
Our host Catherine Norr returned us to the open mic after a break with a new poem, “August.”
Susan Jewell’s poem “On Giving Carl Dennis a Ride to the Hilton” was based on a recent, true incident in Saratoga & filled with not only literary allusions but also warnings from her mother. Malcolm Willison read from his intriguing series of descriptive poems about a house in Key West, FL once owned by Elizabeth Bishop, “Afterword” (#13). Karen Fabiane ended the night with one of her classics, “Seeing You Again,” then a new, in-progress piece about intimacies after a party.
This regular monthly reading & open mic takes place at Arthur’s Market in the Schenectady Stockade Section on the 2nd Wednesday, sign-up at 7:00PM, start at 7:30PM, with your host Catherine Norr.
August 11, 2016
During the restoration of Caffè Lena on Phila St. the open mic is being held at Northshire Bookstore on Broadway, & tonight the guest host, filling in for Carol Graser, was — me! I was glad to be able to help out Carol, but doubly pleased because the featured poet was my friend from Ada, OK, the poet Ken Hada, who is also the Director of the annual Scissortail Creative Writing Festival at East Central University in Ada. In honor of the great Okie poets I’ve met at Scissortail I began the night by reading the poem “A Moment in Life” by the late Jim Spurr, who ran a monthly open mic on the third Thursday in Shawnee, OK (which has continued).
Local poet & artist Barbara Garro was the first on the sign-up sheet & read a poem titled “Swan Song.” Sally Rhoades has made the trip to Oklahoma a number of times, & read a couple of related poems, “Fireflies in Cicada” & one from a series written on the Sunday morning after each Scissortail Festival.
After a short break, I returned to the open mic with a new, political piece “When Donald Trump Farts.”
The poetry open mic normally held at the historic Caffè Lena on Phila St. on the first Wednesday of the month has been held at the Northshire Bookstore the last few months. I’m not sure when the expected return to Caffè Lena will be, but stay tuned for the location & keep the first Wednesday open on your calendar for poetry in Saratoga Springs.
August 5, 2016
This was the last of the season, again with a fabulous local poet & an equally fabulous national poet — Bunkong Tuon & Sarah Browning. We were in Washington Park in front of the Robert Burns statue — before the rain.
Misfit magazine) told of an adult encounter with bullies while walking with his grandmother. He ended with a poem that he read for audience members with whom he had been discussing language before the reading, “Reciting Alphabets” about learning Khmer from his grandfather.
It was a stellar season of Poets in the Park, & I hope to be back next year to carry on the tradition started oh so many years ago by Tom Nattell (who I think must’ve helped to save me a couple of primo parking spots this year). Thanks to the Hudson Valley Writers Guild for financial support & to all the folks in our literate, literary community for their support.