I have been trying to get down to this event for months, even planning to drive with Alifair Skebe when she had her reading there, but something here or somewhere have interferred. It's at the Kings Mall on 9W in Kingston on the 2nd Thursday of each month. But of course, when I'm featured, I had to be there. From the road & the parking lot it just says "Used Books" so you just have to have faith you're in the right spot. And you are: a fabulous used book shop, very neatly set up & arranged. The reading is squeezed into the entrance way, with refreshments served (!) in the mall hallway.
Teresa Marta Costa has been the host of a number of poetry venues in the mid-Hudson Valley, mostly notably at the Cross Street Atelier (which she could never pronounce) in Saugerties. She's fun, if a little ditzy, which I guess makes it fun, & this event is.
The first featured poet was Iris Litt whose most recent book is What I Wanted to Say (Shivastan Publishing, Woodstock, NY, 2006). She read a number of poems from this book as well as earlier, & some more recent, work. Her poems are short, about a page or less, & are responses to the world & its images around her, in the best way. Not just notebook jottings, but crafted poems nutured from the raw material of her life. We exchanged books & I'm very glad to have her work around the house now.
I was featured next & I want to record my playlist, since it is one that has served me well lately, once before at the Social Justice Center when I read for The Actual Theater Company salon -- check them out at www.actualny.com. I started with "for Hugh Thompson, Jr." as much as an invocation as anything else, then "Secrecy Guards Oldest Pine...", "On Reading the Tibetan Book of the Dead" with chime & rainstick, "The Wall" & "Baghdad/Albany" (partially as "Albany" poems & partially because the Kings Mall where we were is the site of the weekly counter-recruitment effort by Jay Wenk & Mary Keefe & others against the Army Recruiting station at the Mall -- they are being sued by the mall management for their activities), and ended with a bit of humor, "A Pain in the Neck."
The open mic was the usual mixed bag. I don't think I've ever heard C.J. Krieger before, & I liked his work, especially "Breakfast Breasts" -- yes, yes. Curtis Butler read "Urge & Urge & Urge" responding to Walt Whitman (Walt's birthday is May 31; Albany folk will be gathering at the Robert Burns statue in Washington Park at 6PM to read "Song of Myself").
Speaking of birthdays, we celebrated Donald Lev's birthday (close enough) with cake. He read, as is his wont, a poem by Enid Dame, then a couple of his movie poems. Donald is one of the mid-Hudson's (& the world's) poetry treasures; look for his zine Home Planet News wherever -- & get Enid's poems too while you are at it.
Teresa Costa read her Spring poem, "Unlucky 13" about chickens & bears. Then Ted Gill with a bouquet of his short, rhymed ditties, which you need to hear -- who would've thought someone would be writing like this in this day & age, & have you still smiling.
When I saw Phillip Guarneri walk in I groaned -- he invariably reads too long, too sententiously, & so he did. If he had stopped at his first 2 poems I would have been proved wrong, but he continued on to a piece longer than his 2 poems with a letter to the editor that would have filled the editorial page & run on to the obituaries. Memo to open mic hosts: start timing when Phillip takes the stage & cut him off at 5 minutes, please.
Now, Robert Milby has been known to go too long too, but not tonight, although he did spend a good part of his time with the current literary/historical birthdays & a poem by Robert Browning, but then 2 interesting poems of his own, one on the Virginia Tech murders & the other "No Guru." Robert is to be forgiven for all the good he does promoting poets through his multiple open mic venues.
Marty Mulenex drove down as far as I did, maybe further, to remind us that May is National Bicycling Month -- keep pedaling, Marty, & writing (but not at the same time).
The last reader, Lisa A. Rings just does not read out enough, but that's what the job does to you. I love how she read 2 poems by her husband, Don Yacullo, & got choked up -- he was right there in the room, luck guy. Then her own "To Everyone Everywhere on Planet Earth." Thank you, Lisa.
Enjoyable night overall -- thank you Teresa!