April 25, 2007

Potluck Poetry at the Voorheesville Public Library, April 14

The Every Other Thursday Night Poets up there on the hills always have a big poetry event in April. This one started with brunch at 11:00 AM & continued on with an open mic. By my count (my frequently fallible notes) 16 poets read. Most were the usual locals, but Carol Graser came down from Galway. The food was great & I snacked throughout the readings.

The open mic was hosted by the hill queen, Barbara Vink, & you can read her take on the event at http://thursdaypoets.blogspot.com/ I find it interesting that she talks as much about who wasn't there as she does about who was. But go read her when you are finished with me. My comments aren't inclusive, I don't mention every poem the poets read, I'm just trying to give the flavor of the event.

Some of the poets read way longer than their alloted 5 minutes; for many I think it's that they don't get out enough to open mics. If you've been inflicted with a poet going too long, you learn to limit your own time. Always leave them wanting more, I say, not wishing you'd finished 2 poems back.

I read first, mainly because the sign-up sheet was sitting there empty. Then once my name was on it (& first place was safely taken) everyone else signed up. I read "Vowels" which I've added to my Blog (scroll down) & kept the politics light with "A Pain in the Neck".

I like Mike Burke's simply stated poems & he started off with "Beach Day" by his kindergartner granddaughter, then a poem he wrote for her, among others.

Dennis Sullivan read a whole bunch of poems & ended with a long one that Barb said was nearly his whole 5 minutes on its own. But he's Irish, & mixing politics & poetry & pretty girls in the airport come naturally to him. But, Dennis, read the long poem first & end with the shorters ones.

The VPL is Tim Verhaegen's stomping grounds, where he is among friends. You'll see his name popping up a lot on the pages ("pages"?) of this Blog. He read one of his poems & the lyrics to Joni Mitchell's "Down to You."

Alan Casline also did other people's work, poet friends from their chapbooks & just one of his own poems. Then I discovered that where I'd seen him before was not at poetry events (he really should get to some them), but at the place where we're both doing some temp work. He has a recently published chapbook, with a hand-made cover, Some Thursday Night Poems (Benevolent Bird Press, Delmar, NY).

Tom Corrado, saxman & poet, read a whole string of poems, most short, often amusing word play or quirky takes on things, but when he said he'd do "a couple more" I thought he meant 2, though glad it included the last one "You Are No Longer Here" for John Rankin.

Spring & the war in Iraq & the suffering in Dafur were in Barb Vink's poems, like she was in black & red pajamas. I hope I don't have to wait for next year's event in Voorheesville to hear her poems again.

Joyce Schreiber read brief poems of the simple world around her, like flowers weeping in the desert.

Mark O'Brien talked of history -- American & that of his family -- & his beard.

"Oxygen" & "Nuclear Medicine" explained Cathy Anderson's tank, but not the Rite of Spring garland on her head -- another burst of flowers, like poems.

The Voorheesville Blog talks about Carol Graser unravelling the stripes of the flag; & I think her "Poetry Open Mic" was perfectly chosen for this event, enough to make everyone want to go to one, soon, somewhere.

Mimi Moriarty (more about her soon) remembered Spaulding Grey in "Swimming", then 2 poems with sleep/beds.

Marion Menna is a new voice, transplanted here from Florida, nature poems that she only thought worthy to read because they had each been published somewhere. Why does someone, usually someone we don't even know, have to bless our poems? Why can't we read one version at an open mic on the first Wednesday & another, equally tentative, version at an open mic on the third Thursday? Again, more reasons why these poets need to get to one of the many open mics in this great community of poets we live in.

And interestingly enough, Catherine Norr's first poem was called "Community", about reading at Arthur's Market in Schenectady.

What would an open mic be without a virgin? A whorehouse of poets? Whatever, Phyllis Hillinger saved us from that fate by being our virgin, though she confessed to being a prose writer as well, this was her first poetry reading. Wha-hoo!

And finally, like a daffodil waiting for the snow to melt, Edie Abrams was the last poet. She read Wordsworth & her own, lighter, more humorous response, then more poems that brought smiles, including senseless, delightful word-play. She seems to have fun with her poems.

A great brunch of poets (that's not a typo), some of whom are in the anthology, Poetry Don't Pump Gas. Check out their Blog for information.