June 9, 2007

Caffe Lena Open Mic, June 6

There were about 26 folks reading in the open mic, in addition to the featured poet Diane Lockward, another big night in Saratoga Springs, with Carol Graser as host. But the evening moved along, with no ego epics, each reader being considerate of those to follow.

There were two "virgins" -- Lisa Temoshok read "Tuesday Night at the Methodist Church," her entry from the recently published Story Quilt collection (introduced earlier by Mary Cuffe-Perez, an oral history of the little town of Galway). The other virgin, Maria D., earned an A+ from her professor for showing up & reading a fine poem about her grandmother, "To Margaret." That professor is Barbara Ungar who (not-so professorially) read a villanelle, "Excuses for Divorce" (Barbara will be one of the Poets in the Park in July).

On the subject of marriage, but from the other end, Mary Kathryn Jablonski read two poems from her series, To the Husband I Have Not Yet Met: Letter 5, in which fishing & lures figure as images; and Letter 6, where she names a dog "Husband." Humor, of course, drives these poems, but with an undercurrent of eroticism & wistful longing, that she emphasizes in her careful, expressive reading. The more I hear the more I like.

Actually, "fishing" was a theme in Marley Halpern-Graser's stand-up comic routine, deconstructing the phrase, "there are plenty of fish in the ocean."

Another inadvertent "theme" of the evening was poetry workshops, which Tim Verhaegen ripped apart in a revised version of "3AM Echos & Recollections of a Poetry Workshop." His characters (the folks that go to poetry workshops but don't go to poetry readings, or buy or read poetry books) don't know a metaphor from a moving van & are skewered by Tim's gay wit. Diane Lockward mentioned Collete Inez's workshop prompt & then Carol read a sestina from Bernadette Mayer's workshop. The other theme of the night was cows, but that was more of a running, or rather walking, gag. My own poems were about animals, "Springtime Maggie" & "Eight Hermit Thrushes."

Mimi Moriarty had driven up with Tim, made us thirsty with "The River of Stout" & her dream of being in jail with the President (as a drag queen).

I don't know Diane Lockward's work at all. I read a couple poetry zines, try to pay attention to who's out there, but there are a gazillion poets, lots of "awards" & plenty of festivals. She's read at the Dodge Festival, but she is from New Jersey so we know how much easier that is. She read a bunch from her new book What Feeds Us, a couple newer poems & some from a previous book. The poems were humorous, clever, "well-written" but she persisted in reading in a stylized sing-song voice, like plain-song, that worked for her curse poem, "Invective Against the Bumblebee", but got very old very fast. I suspect she has been to a lot of workshops. If you want to read a good analysis of her reading check out Karin's comments on http://knitting-and.blogspot.com/.

Speaking of Karin M.T., I'm so glad she was there, with Sally Rhoades. Karin read a poem about a yard sale, & her Autobahn poem again. Sally read 2 never read before, one a letter to dance friends that morphed into a powerful political piece.

There were some "returning" poets. David Mook did some place-centered poems, "Frenchtown Bridge Renovation" & "Lake Galena", while Eric Hauenstein returned with a poem about the Atlantic Ocean & one about the Pacific; I guess that's where he's been.

Of course, the stalwarts of the Saratoga poetry scene were there, including Sue Jefts; Marilyn McCabe; Mary Sanders Shartle announced the demise of the Saratoga Poetry Zone (more on that in a future Blog); Mary Melvin (who did just fine from the floor without a mic), introduced "Mother Always Wore Lipstick" as a "memory poem", a reference to an earlier poet's comment (& made me think, "aren't they all?"); Jeff Jurgens bouncing around the stage; &, of course, Barbara Garro "Lost in Love."

Then there were "the kids", some young, high-school age poets, the future features somewhere, eventual open-mic hosts. Tanya Russell & Marissa LaFleur both read untitled notebook entries, & we were so glad to have them. And returning from last month were Noah Davies-Mason with a metaphysical rant or sorts, & Nikolais Shumer on death & suicide.

I mustn't leave out James Schlett & his little poems from a trip to Pittsfield. The evening ended with Pat Dyjak handling vegetables at the co-op, and on the beach at Lake Michigan.

Thank you, Carol, for bringing out so many good poets -- Every 1st Wednesday, Caffe Lena, 47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs.