August 22, 2017
For the last Monday (& the last day) in July we were at McGeary’s for the monthly open mic hosted by Mary Panza. The featured poet, Dawn Marar, helped to pack the house for her reading, but first part of the open mic sign up list.
Sylvia Barnard was first up with a “rabbit poem” with Roman references, then another animal poem “2 Blind Mice.”
Dawn’s husband Hani made his debut at a poetry open mic reading a poem someone else had written, “Efflorescence” a tribute to Dawn’s forthcoming chapbook of poetry. I read an older poem, “Obliteration,” a meditation on forms of burial, & the somewhat newer “Traveling America.”
Bob Sharkey has been collecting fortunes from Chinese fortune cookies & writing poems from them, & he read the latest, “It’s Fortune or Fame…” Karen Fabiane read a new poem written today, “Karen’s Steaks & Chops.” Julie Lomoe was celebrating a birthday (somewhere between 25 & 100), a country song & her garden “Sunny & 75.”
It’s always dark & wordy, with the smell of booze, here at Poets Speak Loud! at McGeary’s on Sheridan Square in Albany, NY on the last Monday of most months, 7:30PM — an open mic surrounding a featured poet, spurred on by Mary Panza.
It looked more fake than the real thing.
— Andy Warhol
The eclipse is on TV
the Great American Eclipse
they say. I listen to Sun Ra
“Space is the Place” of course
where else is there?
I like the New Moon best
because I have to believe
it is there each month
just as the clouds challenge
my belief that it is the Moon
blocking the Sun, not
just storm clouds rolling in.
On TV the 8-year old says,
“I’ve never seen anything like it!”
she has yet to see Prom night
the back seat of that Honda
a missed period, throwing up
in the last pew of church.
TV repeats the eclipse in places
no one goes to, instant reruns
the Sun & I have a Corona.
Watching the Great American Eclipse
on my computer is internet porn:
much better than the real thing.
In Carhenge Nebraska
200 miles from Nothing
239,000 miles from the Moon
who smiles to be so far away
93 million miles from the Sun
Someone says, “It’s like
watching Day turn into Night”
which I do each & every Day.
In my backyard, even the birds
think it’s just another cloudy day.
August 19, 2017
Carrying on the series started by Albany poet & activist Tom Nattell back in 1989, the poetry readings at the Robert Burns statue in Albany’s Washington Park were held this year on July 15, July 22 & July 29. While there were a few sprinkles of rain on July 22, that ended before the poets read, the evenings were mostly clear, the weather pleasant, the poets inspiring.
In her second set Karen read some poems from her military experience, many looking at the origin of words used in the military, such the poem “Enlist” on recruitment, “Kevlar” (invented by a woman) built on her memories of basic training, & “Discharge” on getting out. The short poem “The Army Smart Book: Inspirational Quotes” has a drill sergeant pondering the “breaking” of female recruits. She also included poems about war in other eras — an ekphrastic poem based on a woodcut “The Great Sacrifice of the Romans on Undertaking a War,” & the related poems “Civil War Reenactment” with her kids at a playground, a meditation on war, & “Sailor’s Creek Battlefield,” hummingbirds at a civil war battlefield.
Jay returned with “Pluck that Pregnant Dandelion” a philosophical piece about scattering seeds to the wind, the unfinished & untitled poem on the myth of Cassandra & Apollo as told in the Iliad combined with images from the Gettysburg museum, the timely & moving “Thank You For Your Service” on military suicides, & concluded with “The Clowns” considering comedy from ancient Greeks to modern times, enough to make you pee in your pants (or toga).
* * *
The second of the three events, on July 22, featured 2 local poets Ian Macks & Liv McKee.
* * *
The final Poets in the Park reading on July 29 once again featured 2 US military veterans, Suzanne Rancourt & Richard Levine. I had had the pleasure of reading with both Suzanne & Richard last Fall at the Bright Hills Literary Center in Treadwell, NY for a program of readings by veterans, “Writing War & Peace.”
More photos from Poets in the Park can be found at my Flickr! site.
Poets in the Park was sponsored by the Hudson Valley Writers Guild & the Poetry Motel Foundation, both ultimately supported by the generosity of local writers & readers — “Give us your tired dollars, your millions crying for poetry.”
August 3, 2017
Third Thursday at the Social Justice Center in the Summer — had to crank up the sound system a bit because the door was open letting in the sounds of The Street. Our Muse tonight was, sadly, the recently-gone local poet, Cathy Anderson; I read her poem “Hornswoggled” from the 2006 collection of poems from The Every Other Thursday Night Poets of Voorheesville, NY Poetry Don’t Pump Gas. A couple other poets from that group & in that anthology were in the audience.
In fact, one of them was the first up to read, Alan Casline, with a love poem about walking in the woods. Mark W. O’Brien was the other poet from that same collection, tonight he read a poem from a prompt in Bernadette Mayer’ workshop, a haibun memoir of catching a baseball hit by Yadier Molina. Samuel Weinstein was back with a long poem he said was written in the style of Allen Ginsberg. Our resident Andre Breton, John Thomas Allen, joined us with a poem titled “Behind the Green Door.”
After the break & the passing of the poet’s hat, we continued on with the open mic, & I read my entry to the New York State Fair Poetry Contest, “At the Silarian Cafe: Summer’s Best in Show.” Richard Jerin followed with his intro & then the poem. Jay Gaunt was a new name, read an untitled love poem. Rhymer Betty Zerbst was next with a poem about becoming a poet “Spreading My Wings.”
Every third Thursday there is a poetry open mic with a featured reader at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY. We start at 7:30PM & your donations support the SJC, the Poetry Motel Foundation & helps pay the featured poet.
July 23, 2017
Back among the trees, with our host Alan Casline to warm up the space with a little open mic before the featured poet, the Venerable Dennis Sullivan.
Joe Krausman got the #1 spot on the sign-up sheet & began with a poem about playing the silence “Cello Lesson,” then recited a short rhyme on Love. Paul Amidon read a descriptive memoir “Spring at Lake Abenaki” then a poem on aging & death “Double Down.” John Abuhl read his most recent poem “Repetition” (in Nature), then one on death written in May “Salvation,” & a short philosophical essay “We Seek the Everlasting.” Howard Kogan’s 2 poem were on related themes, “Reading as Writing” & “Poets at the Open Mic.”
After a convivial break, Tom Bonville brought us back to poetry with 2 memoirs of Troy & his Grandfather, “The Pull of the Water,” & “Fire on the River, Troy 1959.” Tim Verhaegen also read a memoir piece, this from 1994 dating black guys.
This series continues into November on either the 1st or 2nd Friday of the month, at 6:30 PM in the guest house/visitor center of the Pine Hollow Arboretum, 16 Maple Ave., Slingerlands — come early for the pot luck.
July 20, 2017
Back to Schenectady again & this welcoming reading series with our host, chanteuse Catherine Norr. First, some of the open mic before the scheduled featured poet, with Alan Catlin reading 2 poems with the same title “Last Night I Dreamed This Would Happen” both posted on the Blog 36 View of Ononta’kahrhon. Richard Jerin read 2 poems, like letters written to others, the first titled “Rebel Heart” with its images of Winter, the 2nd addressed to his daughter.
After a break, Catherine Norr returned with a couple poems of her own, one the story of her partner Dave’s Dad in Montana going off to war, the other a praise litany that she said was a “gratitude poem.” Susan Jewell read “The Myth of the Wild Oyster,” inspired by Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus. Jackie Craven read a persona poem in which a wife complained of her ill husband. Betty Zerbst read 2 poems inspired by the suicide of a young person, “Why, Michael?” & a sort of answer to that question “Deep Despair.”
This is the place to be on the 2nd Wednesday of each month in Schenectady: Arthur’s Market by the monument in the Stockade Section, 7:30PM — featured poet & an open mic for the rest of us.
July 18, 2017
It’s been months since I’ve been able to get to this weekly word scene at the Troy Kitchen, Monday’s are a busy night for me. But I always have good intentions to go & tonight I put the action with the intention. I was pleased to see that Ian Macks was the featured poet, who will be reading at Poets in the Park July 22 with Liv McKee. But first the open mic.
Our lovely poetic host D. (for Danielle) Colin got the words flowing with her poems, the first celebrating the color of her skin, black & beautiful, another on her quiet pen & listening to the other sounds around. I ended up first on the list (which gradually filled as the night wore on) & did my jazz “Saturday Hawk” & “What Makes America Great #20” from my series of True Stories of the Trump Era. Mz Tu performed her outrageous “Balls & Bitches” then a piece on anger “Poison & Venom” (one does not want to piss off this lady). Dawn Howard was visiting the area from the South & read 2 poems, both like religious or self-help preaching, “Flawless” & “Love Is.”
One feature of this venue is the “group poem” created during the reading, an exquisite corpse, that Danielle read at the end — & against the call from one of the food vendors “69, number 69!” as if it were a part of the poem, or at least an invitation. It’s a wonderful venue, but Danielle has the annoying pattern of asking us to applause as she reads the name of the next reader, which often overwhelms the announcement making the name inaudible.
Poetic Vibe is every Monday at the Troy Kitchen on Congress St., 7:30PM, for a donation that helps pay the featured poet.