April 17, 2007

Life from the Living Room, April 11

This is one of the coziest poetry venues anywhere, at the Capital District Gay & Lesbian Community Center, Hudson Ave., in Albany. This night, Roberta Gould read from an easy chair, a relaxed, conversational reading from her 2006 chapbook, Pacing the Wind from SHIVASTAN Publishing out of Woodstock (www.shivastan.com), printed in Kathmandu Nepal on fragrant handmade paper that suits the poems well. I won't attempt to summarize her poems, you can check them out at her website, www.robertagould.net, or whenever she reads at the various venues in the Hudson Valley. Suffice it to say it was a most enjoyable evening of poems & jokes & conversations, as you would hope to have in someone's living room.

The host, Don Levy, read a new poem, The Long Bus Ride Home, a touching response to the murder of an elderly homosexual; Don used his knowledge of movies, particularly the favorites of the gay community, effectively to contrast with the brutality of gay bashing (yeah, it still happens).

Speaking of bashing, I did my own poetically against a woman bishop (The Lady Bishop) & the scariness of religion, male or female, which became a minor theme of the night with Pat Dyjak reading These Ten, "a meditation on the sacred". Pat will be the feature at Live from the Living Room next month on May 9. Catch her before she leaves the area for a teaching gig out west.

Chris Brabham (& Finnegan) were here too, two nights in a row. Chris attacked The Mind Witch.

I like Tim Verhaegen's poems & I don't think he needs to worry about whether he is at a "gay" or a "straight" venue. Poems come out of who we are, where we've been, & if they are honest, well-written, from the heart, then people will understand them. That's why I can read Han Shan, for example, an ancient Chinese poet who lived a very different life than I do. But human nature is the same. Tim's poem, Italian Kids, is an evocation of growing up, of being picked on in school, of finding oneself. Something most people can appreciate.

Finnegan (again) included a poem called Ode to A Crafty Faggots Low Self-Esteem; he went a bit too long, losing my interest with his second poem. I guess he's around for a while.

Don likes to say that this monthly event (on the second Monday of each month) is "straight-friendly". Yes, & it's just plain friendly too.