June 18, 2007

Poetry on the Hudson, June 16

This is a new series on the 3rd Saturday of even-numbered months (that's a 1st) at the Athens Cultural Center on Second St. in Athens (NY) & I've already missed 2 of these events. But I had to be there, I was one of the featured poets, along with Therese Broderick. The host is the irrepressible Bob Wright, finally settled in his new house just up the road.

The Athens Cultural Center is a large store-front with a series of interconnected rooms, currently filled with photos by the local photography club. While the reading was going on in one room, a water-color class was in another, a hotbed of local artistic activity.

Bob started with a few open mic poets before the features, & since we were in Athens, Albany poet Don Levy began with "Going Greek," playing off references to classical Greek myths & literature -- & being gay. Also a poem based on a photo of 2 movie stars, "Tad & Roddy."

Arnold Shapiro responded to Billy Graham with "What If They Don't Wait" (& I guess now Billy will have to wait to find out if Ruth is waiting for him.

Georganna Millman's family has lived along the Hudson for generations & she read from her poetic memoir a section about a "Wreck of the Steamship Swallow, 1845" then a poem coming out in Margie, "The Service Dog."

Therese Broderick was the first featured poet & she gave a characteristically well-put-together reading, with a variety of moods, styles, subjects. She has really found her own voice & keeps exploring the possibilities. Her Blog is linked below (www.poetry.blog-city.com). "Ars Poetica" is a a good start for a poetry reading, then a soccer game on "Mother's Day," & again about her daughter in "Teenager Reading the Comics." Then to a series on couples & relationships, starting with 2 about her own: a smashed planter "Just Inside" & "Married 18 Years" (with its tender remembrance of teenage love/lust); on to a couple observed "In the Hotel Hallway" & a street prophet of doom "At Prince & Houston St." On a cruise ship with "The Wave Machine" and at Curves with "Target Heart Rate" (I always wondered what those ladies did in there). The dark "Night Storm" & "Butterflies in the Zoo"; a sonnet, "Halo Effect". Therese is recently back from a workshop in Duluth, Minnesota with poet Ted Kooser & shared with us her thoughts on looking into "Ted Kooser's Writing Notebook," taking us back to the beginning -- a wonderful reading. I've heard poets who have been on the open mic scene decades more than Therese & are still scattered when they get their 15 to 20 minutes.

I too try to "construct" my readings (years of rangling over the 3 Guys playlist with Charlie & Tom), finding links, connections between the poems. I started with Tom Nattell's "Hiroshima" with the 62nd anniversary coming in August, "Physics," a lighter take on the theme. "Photo at the QE2, 1991" & "Henry Rollins" took me into the more recent poems. "Secrecy Guards Oldest Pine..." & "Eight Hermit Thrushes". And ended with "Savasana."

Our host, Bob Wright made us laugh with "There Won't Always Be New Jersey" then the more thoughtful "Hmm".

We feared the worst when Frank Robinson introduced his "epic masterpiece," but the poem "We," despite recounting the hopeful history of Mankind (i.e., humans) wasn't that long.

Joe Krauseman said he took a wrong turn from New Jersey & ended up in Athens (I told him he should have turned left at Albania), but he's always prepared for a poetry reading & gave us "Pictures at the Shaker Museum."

The more I hear Mimi Moriarty's work, the more I like it, so I'm glad she has been reading out more lately. A personal/metaphysical meditation on "How A Poet is Sometimes Like a Turtle" & a commentary on the Pope questioning the idea of Limbo (so if any of you feel you are stuck there, you're not).

Cheryl Rice harkens back to the QE2 days mentioned in my poems & keeps on cranking them out, thankfully. She described her (albeit short) walk to work in "I Bring" & "Why I Got Married" was from a prompt in Maria Mazziotti Gillan's workshop (Unsettling America which Maria co-edited with her daughter Jennifer Gillan is one of the best anthologys of contemporary poetry out there).

The next reading will be on August 18, 2PM, with Roberta Gould & Donald Lev, 2 great poets it's worth making an effort to see -- put it on your calendar now. Check www.poetz.com/hudson.