June 24, 2016
This is a bi-monthly continuing series held since last December at Restaurant Navrona in Albany (NY). Tonight’s presentee was Albany poet, vice-(emphasis on vice) president of Albany Poets, bar-tender, masseuse, mother & bitch-on-wheels Mary Panza. El presidente Thom Francis began by talking about the first open mic he ever attended at Borders with Mary as host, & how terrified he was. He then turned the mic over to Mary for a reading of her poems, including recent ones, & a couple of her “Housewife Tuesday” Blogs from AlbanyPoets.com.
Mary began with a poem about her daughter, “The Little Blond,” then on to a funny (as she often is) Housewife Tuesday about family & grocery shopping. A poem for poet Chris Rizzo was based on Charles Olson’s famous statement from his essay Projective Verse, “Form is never more than an extension of content.” She wrote about hope in “Prisoners of a Cardboard Story,” & about herself & self-realization in a piece set in a club “I Want You To Know.” She ended with a Housewife Tuesday piece from a recent trip to Hawaii that brought her back to forgiveness & her roots as a Catholic through a Buddhist monk’s chanting.
I have seen Mary Panza grow & mature from her (& my own) tentative early days at the QE2 open mics, to become the confident, hard-working writer & Mom who is one of the Elders of the Albany poetry scene. & it is a credit to Thom Francis for presenting this series every-other month about & for the poets who keep active in the area writing & spoken-word scene.
June 21, 2016
A new pattern to my 2nd Wednesday of the month — to Schenectady’s Stockade Section for poetry. Our host, Catherine Norr, began the night with an original song that asked (& answered) the question, “Why would you take an artist?”
Shayla C. began with “Chill” playing on words, then a piece prompted by going through her mother’s things “Not Welcome.” Alan Catlin also read about memories, but this from his student days at the time of the Kent State killings in 1970, then from his latest book of poems American Odyssey (FutureCycle Press, 2016) “Our Lady of the Appliances.” B-K Tuon read a poem about his daughter at 9-months dancing to music & into her imagined future “Bieber Fever.”
Donna Dakota (aka Donna Wojcik) as an enthusiastic member of the local poetry community, an avid workshop member & leader. She began with a poem for her daughter, another titled “Come Hell or Hygiene,” others written while driving (she says she writes on her windshield with a washable marker, but that’s a stretch too), a poem titled “Zen Doodle,” & another from a series of love poems to a person she has not met. But her form of choice, suited to her short, pithy style, is what she calls “bargain basement Haiku,” improvised poems written on postcards to other poets, some philosophical, some just plain silly, & she read a representative cluster, with often amusing titles, such as "God Sets the Bar."
After a short break, Catherine Norr read a couple of her own poems, one styled after ancient Chinese poetry “To a Friend,” then the descriptive “Deck Overlooking the Fish Pond.” Sydney Lussier read a poem about hugging her younger brother “Jacob,” then an untitled piece on insomnia.
But this open mic, with a featured poet, takes place each 2nd Wednesday at 7:30PM in Arthur’s Market, 35 North Ferry St., Schenectady — check it out.
June 10, 2016
I finally made it over to Troy for this weekly series at Troy Kitchen, which in itself is worth the trip. A large, open space, set up like a food court. There were 3 stalls open this night, not counting the ever-tempting bakery & candy counter, & a beer & wine bar. The seating is communal/mixed at black, stylish tables with fixed benches, like up-scale picnic tables, but, sadly, no bar-stools at the bar. The series’ host is poet D. Colin (Danielle), who began the night with a couple of her own poems, a free write hanging on the phrase “do you see me?” & a poem from her book Dreaming in Kreyol for her grandmother whom she never met.
The sign-up sheet for the open mic was a mix of some of the area’s experienced readers & first-timers. And #1 on the list was the night’s first virgin (pretty bold to sign up first), Michelle, with a piece about how she used to hate being black.
Then, as a closing statement, Danielle read the collective poem, the exquisite corpse created by the audience & poets — wished I had a copy to share with you. Anyway, Poetic Vibe takes place each Monday in Troy, NY at Troy Kitchen, 77 Congress St., 7PM — poetry, food, beer, wine, chocolates, beautiful people, all the good things in life.
May 24, 2016
A Sunday afternoon for poetry up in Voorheesville, with a cluster of open mic poets & a featured poet, Judith Saunders. But first the open mic, with me as the first reader; I read an old poem of break-up angst “This Feels So Bad It’s Got to Be the Blues,” then a new piece about old books “Decomposition.” Bob Sharkey shared a couple of scary poems, the first about reading with his granddaughter “Scary People,” then “Things” about what lurked in the back of Woolworth’s & library stacks. Dennis Sullivan was our singular host for the afternoon (his often co-hosts MIA) & read a trio of poems philosophizing on dreams & life & death, “A Lesson of Life, for Jennifer” (a student from years ago), “Desert Face,” & the aphoristic “What I’m Doing Monday.”
Sunday Four Poetry happens at 3PM at the Old Songs Community Center in Voorheesville, NY on most 4th Sundays of the month (the series takes the months of July & August off).
May 21, 2016
I like to start each of these events with an invocation of the Muse, some gone poet who could not be here with us, & this year the newly dead poets are piling up way too fast. Tonight our Muse was Upstate New York’s own Maurice Kenny (1929 - 2016). I read “Molly” from his 1992 history-in-poetry, Tekonwatonti/Molly Brant (1735 - 1795): Poems of War.
On to the open mic, Alan Catlin was first with the last thing he wrote, a grim cocktail poem, “Blue Bottles for a Blue Lady” (a "Phillip’s Screwdriver)". Philomena Moriarty was next with a poem now titled “Flip-Flopping Joe” so she could enter it in a contest on poems about “Joe.” Bob Sharkey also read the last thing he wrote, “800 Meters,” appropriately enough for tonight’s Corporate Run, about runners.
The first of the night’s new voices was Prinze Divine Allah, “a divine rapper,” who did his piece “Divine Inspiration” accompanied by a neat, little wireless speaker. Don Levy’s poetic social commentary tonight was about intolerance within the gay community “No Fats No Fems.”
After the break, I took us back to the open mic with a recent poem, “Another Holy Thursday.”
The Third Thursday Poetry Night happens each month on (duh!) the third Thursday, at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY, 7:30PM — a featured poet & an open mic for a modest (or extravagant) donation that supports the featured poet, the SJC & poetry events in the community.
May 18, 2016
The following is a complete list of the Finalists & their poems:
First Place, bonus for community poet, bonus for local poet, $700: Beyond the Naupaka Hedge---Dawn Marar of Delmar NY
Second Place, $250: The Resolution of Neglect Syndrome---Jen Karetnick of Miami Shores FL
Third Place, $125: Plantation’s Corn---Paul Weidknecht of Phillipsburg NJ
Fourth Place, $100: On the Rising Prices of Corn at Festivals---Michelle Chen of Whitestone NY
Special Founder’s Award, $90: Now, morning…---Karen Fabiane of Troy NY
Honorable Mentions (9), $65:
- Stopping By The Columbarium---Jackie Craven of Schenectady NY
- Siobhan In Washington Park (age 46)---Sylvia Barnard of Albany NY
- Argiope Aurantia---Pat Tompkins of San Mateo CA
- American Woman---Lucia Cherciu of Poughkeepsie NY
- Don’t Read This One Out Loud---Merisa Dion of Derry NH
- A Brief History of Fun---Howard Kogan of Stephentown NY
- Shipwreck---Joe Krausman of Menands NY
- Earthquakes in Oklahoma---Lauren Elizabeth Delucchi of Washington DC
- Nondescript---Ashley Hyun of Tenafly NJ
- I loved you long before I even met you---Kirsten Textor of Lyngby, Denmark
- To a Child at Enlightenment---J.C. Elkin of Annapolis MD
- Winter Walk---Francis DiClemente of Syracuse NY
- Let Me View Life-The Way the Heart Feels…---Jennifer Circosta of Campbell Hall NY
- “all told”---Joel Best of Niskayuna NY
- Inside the Picture Frame-For Aiyana Stanley-Jones---Keli Osborn of Eugene OR
- Missing you---Carol Kloskowski of Christmas MI
- Sad Nymph---Betsy Butcher of Iowa City IA
- Richard Nixon Must Die (for all the victims of the War)---Dan Wilcox of Albany NY
- Salt Is The Spice Of Life---Philip Good of East Nassau NY
- modie badanov---Canon Pau of Los Angeles CA
- On a Night With a Poet---Sally Rhoades of Albany NY
- Meaning of Man---Erin Gillett of Los Angeles CA
May 17, 2016
This was my first time at this monthly series in Schenectady because on the 2nd Wednesday of each month I was at the open mic at the Pride Center of the Capital Region, run by Albany poet Don Levy. But in March he had called it quits (check out my Blog on his last open mic here). But tonight I gave Don a ride to Arthur’s Market for the open mic, not the least because we could, but also because the featured poet was Carolee Bennett. The usual host is Catherine Norr, but tonight Ginny Folger filled in for Catherine, & began by reading “Hyacinth” by poet Barbara Hill.
Don had gone in while I parked the car & signed me up first; I did an old poem, an imagining of who was on “The Noon Train,” then my new driving directions “How to Find Clit Court” (a real street in Colonie, NY). Margaret Bryant read a poem titled “To Know” set it 1971 on the death of her father, then “Pearl” from her 2010 book Aligning Stems (The Troy Book Makers). Paul Bryant announced he was “not a poet” but one does not have to be a “poet” to appreciate Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s great poem “Constantly Risking Absurdity” which he did by reading it for us.
This poetry open mic is held on the 2nd Wednesday of each month at Arthur’s Market in Schenectady’s Stockade Section, at 7:30PM — a featured poet & an open mic.