April 28, 2007

NightSky Cafe, April 18

Back to Schenectady on the third Wednesday, & what a night, lots of poetry & lots of lots of (that's not a typo either). Shaun Baxter, the almost-shortest host began with Shel Silverstein's "The Smoke Off", for the National Smoke-Off Day (April 20), then read a few of his postcards throughout the night -- I liked the doorknobs one. If you don't know about the postcards, then you haven't been there.

The open mic poets, surrounding the features, were me, John Raymond reading from Samuel Beckett's Text for Nothing, Alan Catlin doing one of his own & one of Bukowski's (I'd prefer 2 Catlins to 1 Buk), Don Levy wondered why he would write 2 West Side Story poems ("You're gay," I reminded him), Therese Broderick responded to the killings at Virginia Tech with verbs, a neat trick, then Marty Mulenex with a new one from his notebook.

OK, now the features. George Martin is not the former manager of the Beatles. The best part of his readings was the stack of composition books next to him on a stool, a great visual. George has been around the poetry scene, popping up now & then, but has had few features. So he over did it, read on & on, & was obviously unprepared, stumbling over his own words, as if he hadn't read over his notebooks before his readings to annotate any he found unclear. He said that poetry was just writing in a notebook; well, sometimes yes, sometimes no. But then "experienced" poets who have just not progressed from their QE2 debuts make the same kind of profound unfounded remarks, speaking in cliches. Such is fine in small doses, but he went way too long. He needs to go to more open mics, to listen to (& learn from) other poets.

Shaun introduced Bob Wright with a new work in progress, "Even Dwarfs Started Small", a poem on famous people who were under 5'4" in height (Bob is known for his tall guy poems). Well, to be fair, I think Bob went too long too. Most of his poems are no more than a page & he tends not to give any introduction to set a context. This can be dulling in a long reading, the same rhythm, the same tone. Individually Bob's poems are interesting, amusing, even profound or funny. Perhaps I was dulled by the first feature.

Then the rest of the open mic: Jason Berkowitz is really a stand-up comic with political material, that's OK, but Tom Waits tunes aren't as much fun as his own stuff. Chris Brobham with the Angel of Death. Finnegan, ahem, "Fuck Me Gently with a Chainsaw" (do I need to say more?), & finally, a late entry, Lynn Miglino with one of the best lines of the night: "...the Chernobyl of the heart & mind..." without all the pretention.

Now, we won't recount the ugly scene up front as someone's girl friend has too much of something & has to leave, noisily, but some poet will tell the tale. Stay tuned.