July 28, 2014
The second in this year’s series of 3 readings at the Robert Burns statue in Washington Park, Albany, NY featured poets Melody Davis, & Brian Dorn whose reading was complemented with dancers/movement artists, & the entire event complemented by an attentive audience in their lawn chairs.
Juan Soler moved to Brian’s next poem “I Need a Sign.” “Plain to See” was a poem about subtle beauty, while “Standard of Living” was a commentary on the income gap between rich & poor. Fusion was back for “Ghost Town” then Juan performed for the religious “The Love Poem.” “My Queen” used the images of a chess game in the 21st Century, then Fusion returned for the environmental poem, the ironic “A Step Forward.” “Give it a Try” was what he called a “pep-rally poem.” “Monkey Bars” was a comment on evolution, then Mark O'Brien, who hadn’t left yet for Ireland, solved the jumble — the word was “bazinga,” frequently used on the TV show “The Big Bang Theory.” “The Ends of the Earth” was another environmental poem with Fusion, followed by Amy Soler dancing with Juan to the inspirational “This Day.” “Creative Side” pondered how he got here, then he ended with the spiritual poem “Your Footsteps.”
So this was not just Poets in the Park, but Poets & Dancers in the Park on still another fine Saturday evening in Washington Park under the poetic gaze of Robert Burns.
July 25, 2014
Another third Thursday at the Social Justice Center, with our featured poet, Susan Maurer, all the way up from New York City. I invoked the Muse, the late poet-activist Grace Paley, then on to the open mic.
Alan Casline was the first poet up with a few chronological selections from a longer poem “To & From the West,” the results of a recent cross-country drive. Mark W. O’Brien hadn’t left yet for his much-touted trip to Ireland, read “When You Think About Growing Old” from his impending chapbook from Benevolent Bird Press. Joe Krausman didn’t read one of his own poems but a poem by English publisher, poet, & philanthropist Felix Dennis (1947 - 2014), “I Just Stepped Out.” M.C. Hurd read her poem “Taken” without an introduction, a new voice/face here.
After the break I read a new poem “Medicine Buddha.” Sylvia Barnard also had a new poem on Albany history, “The Journey of the Furs.” Bob Sharkey read a descriptive account of fireworks & the blues at a holiday celebration. The final poet for the night was Jessica with a poem based on a prompt describing what she sees “From My Window.”
The third Thursday of each month is Poetry Night at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY, 7:00PM, with a featured poet & an open mic for everyone else, for a modest donation that helps pay the featured poet, supports other poetry programs in the community & supports the Social Justice Center. Join us.
July 17, 2014
This was the 2nd reading in this series, starting just as the World Cup was starting. The reading was at The Low Beat, on a Sunday afternoon, & following the time-honored rule that if you want to have a good crowd for a poetry reading schedule lots of readers — this afternoon there was a 6-pack of writers, what one could say was “an invitation-only open mic.” Pine Hills Review is the literary magazine of The College of St. Rose’s MFA in Creative Writing Program.
Frances Cortez O’Conner read a personal memoir about apartments she had lived in from New York City, to Albany, to having a baby & moving out to the ‘burbs in East Greenbush — a take on the classic American Dream success story.
The final reader, Elisa Albert, read from a personal essay in progress, a memoir that took us from working at the Honest Weight Food Co-op in Albany, to a family history of Jews in Pennsylvania, & ultimately a commentary on the act of writing.
There is another reading scheduled in this series for Sunday August 10, 3PM, again at The Low Beat (335 Central Ave., Albany, NY) & a launch reception & reading on September 5 at The College of St. Rose. Check the St. Rose/Pine Hills Review website for complete information. & send them some stuff, they accept submissions year round (just like an S&M chick I knew in NYC years ago).
Back at the Robert Burns statue in Washington Park, Albany, NY for poetry in July. We’ve been doing this for 24 years, or more, depending how you count earlier summertime poetry series, all inaugurated & originated by Tom Nattell. I’ve been hosting it now since 2005.
Tonight’s reading was well attended, on a breezy, pleasant Summer eve. And during my introduction (that includes the history of the world, or at least that of Poets in the Park), in addition to the usual loud traffic, motorcycles & helicopters, a small motorcade of enthusiastic honkers drove by, led by an open convertible with young woman in a bright gown waving from the back seat — life in the big City!
There was an attentive, appreciative, generous crowd that night, enjoying the poetry & Summer breeze in the Park. Poets in the Park — Saturdays in July, at the Robert Burns statue. Free!
July 13, 2014
Just managed to avoid being caught in the rain to get to Don Levy’s open mic & reading, & other poets kept joining us.
the Pride Center of the Capital Region. He said he was reading “a few smattering of poems from over the years,” most of the poems short, under a page. He included a couple of poems about the train to New York, “Tear” & “No It’s Just Rails,” & read a couple from a series of “O’Heaney poems,” bar pieces channeling Frank O’Hara. Other notable mentions were the relationship poem “This is a 2-Man Tally Sheet” & a longer piece about hanging out with a friend, “Grand Marshall We’re Lost.” An interesting poem about the ocean & surfing was a still hand-written work-in-progress. His final poem was a tribute to friends in “an alternative relationship” “Introducing a New Ever-After.” Steve has recently started coming to open mics although he has been writing poetry for years, it’s good to have his voice added to the scene.
|Don Levy (left), Shannon Shoemaker (center)|
“Live from the Living Room” takes place at the Pride Center of the Capital Region, 332 Hudson Ave., Albany, NY on the 2nd Wednesday of each month, at 7:30 PM, with a featured reader & an open mic — always “straight friendly.”
July 6, 2014
I arrived at The Low Beat a little late, the open mic already in progress, Elizag on stage with a sermon to young people (god, I hated it years ago when the old folks preached at me). Poor Avery lamented that “she fell asleep on me…” Speaking of aging, Emily Gonzalez read “The Phenomenology of My Body.” Shannon Grant read some exquisite notebook angst about listening to a song, worrying about a lover. Aaron read a piece he said was written at the bar, “Just for Play.”
WordFest in April. Her introductory poem said “I don’t want to moon over you” (& she didn’t). She did a mix of Slam pieces & some real poems, beginning with the list poem “30 Rejections,” then on to a piece about being from Baltimore. A Slam piece about her sister & comparing herself at the same age I recall from her performance in April. From her phone she read an anti-love poem “Hell Hath No Fury Like a Love Scorned.” She had a neat little fold-up broadside for sale, Anatomy of Brick, & read from it “Demands & Dedications” (even when she does a real poem it still sounds like Slam). Then on to a poem to her Mom, & ended with a list of catastrophes, about being told to smile. It was a good mix of poetry & performance & great knees.
It was a 9-contender Slam, most of them new names, but first a familiar one, Kevin, as the sacrificial poet/lamb who did o.p.p. (i.e., other people’s poetry, which is forbidden in Slam competition, but this was only for calibration purposes). The first round seemed front-loaded with Rachel’s entourage, but then AlbanyPoets are hospitable to visitors, & the judges scored, for the most part, “competitively” (as they say). It began with Eric (“hard & sleek”) reading, as did Jimmy his Slam parody silly rhymes, then Joe playing on computer terms, Jamey re-surfacing in the scene & lingering confused on stage, Samson, Trey (spelling?) with a love poem, Steve with another outrageous take on Slam (“Flight Attendant”), Amy with classic Slam (“someone fucked America”) & returning champ Amanda with a love poem.
5 were eliminated, so Round 2 found Amanda (lonesome love), Amy (from “cunt” to “vagina” in 3 minutes), Samson (on words & labels), & Joe (feeling bad about lost love) duking it out.
|il papa Thom Francis, Amy, Amanda & Joe|
The Nitty Gritty Slam, with an open mic & sometimes an outside feature, happens on the 1st & 3rd Tuesdays of each month at The Low Beat on Central Ave. (Valentines re-located, re-incarnated) — check AlbanyPoets.com for details. Good beer, too.
July 4, 2014
It was the last Monday of the month so I headed back down to McGeary’s for happy hour, dinner & the poetry open mic. Tonight: 2! Count ‘em 2! Featured poets: Pat Irish & Samson Dikeman. Sweet Melissa took care of all of our drink & food orders & host Mary Panza took care of the rest of it.
For the open mic I was up first with a new piece that I read for Samson “The Sestina Sestina.” Sylvia Barnard followed with a childhood memoir “House Spot” then a brand-new piece from Willett Street “The Dead Tree.” Brian Dorn read his anti-war poem “Out of Wack” then a love poem “Suspended in Time.” Cheryl A. Rice read 2 poems for Michael (because he wasn’t here), “Aquarium” & “I Was You Were.”
Albany WordFest. While the words & images are compelling, humorous at times, like most song lyrics the are somewhat banal & flat without the music to carry them along. Let’s hope that Pat & Nick can find other venues to perform this work as it should be.
Tess Lecuyer continued the open mic with “Sonnet for a Watercolor” from 2003, then a new poem about a conversation, about a camera & the Moon. It was good to see Jan Tramontano back from Florida; she read 2 poems about the birth of a grandson, “Matrushka Dolls,” & “Anticipation” with its scenes from New York City in the 9th month. Avery read an upbeat sermon (written today he said), “Be Good to Your Family” (I’m waiting for him & P.V. to open the Church of the Feel Good Positively Positive).
Mike Jurkovic was Cheryl’s chauffeur up here from the mid-Hudson area, & apparently is “Pat Irish’s idol;” he read about listening to the voices on his “Ear-buds,” then a favorite poetic topic “Irony.” Emily Gonzalez’s poem “Exile” was about moving from the noise of the ocean to the quiet of the River, then she read about seeing a “Great Blue Heron.” Adam Tedesco began with a grim portrait kind of poem, then read about driving fast “Popular Mechanics, or They’re At it Again.” Steven Minchin read a poem about an encounter outside a GAP, then the family picture “Pulsing Juxtaposed Kin.” Aron (Algorhythm) came in late & ended up last on the list with a philosophical meandering about the meaning of Life, written today.
This is what we do on the last Monday of the month at McGeary’s on Clinton Square in Albany, NY, sponsored by AlbanyPoets.com — it’s not just poetry —