May 8, 2007

WordFest 2007 -- The Open Mic, April 20

Finally getting to this, & I'll do it in segments (we all know the short attention spans folks have now) to keep it in managable chunks -- a weekend of poetry events to put NatPoMo in its coffin, for this year.

Billed as "Upstate New York's largest open mic for poetry and the spokenword" (over 80 people had signed up), the Friday night event came off as something less -- & more. It was a fabulous time, with over 45 poets reading, moved along by Mary Panza's sharp whip/wit & threats of death by dismemberment (usually one particular member). The first to experience Mary's sharp cut was Jason Dlaba & few tested her after that (as the Chinese say, "kill the chicken to scare the monkeys").

I won't try to list/comment on everyone; pictures, podcasts, etc. will be available soon on www.albanypoets.com, so they tell me.

As it says in the old song, "the usual crowd was there", & then some. New (i.e., unfamiliar) poets wandered in & Mary put them in the gaps of the no-shows. This worked very well & kept the readings on time. Folks from Woodstock & Voorheesville were among those didn't show; too bad because we like them, & it would be good for those in the audience who don't get anywhere else to hear their poetry. But Dennis Sullivan came down off the hill to do his Siena library poem.

Some of those that stand out in memory (& notes) for various reasons: Shaun Baxter's new Lottery poems series (a winner); Courtney Earnhart did a long poem in crescendoing images, "The City In Which I Love You" (where did she come from?); the soon-disappearing Pat Dyjak; Karen James on being a Catholic school girl; Alex Emerson's small & pointed attacks on Bush (I managed to get a copy of his chapbook before he left -- Another Victory, by George!, Bear Paw Print Press; always glad to hear Carol Graser's Sharon Olds poem; Alan Catlin on recent events at NightSky Cafe; Alifair Skebe's "American Pastoral"; Basam's moving "On the River from Which my Blood Flows" should be dropped as leaftets over the White House; Richard Morrell brought the house down with his hand-jive poem where "Flipper Meets Gentle Ben".

Not to say everyone else was chopped liver (as we used to say in New York). But even I had to take a break outside briefly with the smokers & jokers (& got interviewed by Harith).

Like I said, there were many new voices, some returning like Ford McLane who used to show up at Rob's old "School of Night" at the old Lionheart, where Bomber's is today, & Joe Hollander, former host of an open mic at Hollywood. Speaking of R.M. Engelhardt, he did his "33", one of the few poems I've heard for the victims & the killer at Virginia Tech. Jamey Steveson did his ode to pretty nuns, Sahli Cavallaro on horses, on love, Philomena Moriarty in poetic fuck-me-pumps, & Margot Lynch's Bermuda triangle.

Oh yeah, the new voices, sorry, got carried away there -- Lilliana Hernandez mentioned the toilet paper, Mike Noble the Hail Mary; Erin somebody or other from in the back with her friends; Andrew Hough who had been at the Black Door was caught doing something he shouldn't, but he was the one who mentioned the cops; Indigo with hip-hop rhymes; Sabrina the writer in her; McMonkus did the other Virginia Tech poem; Mitchell; Marilyn from her book, Poetic Climb; & Fiona untitled.

& John Weiler started on his role as Johnny WordFest -- you'll see why in the next installments. Stay tuned -- or not.