July 20, 2007

Poets in the Park, July 14

Both of this night's poets, Chris Brabham & Caitlin Meissner work in the "helping" field & both read poems about what that means for them as people & poets, this on another clear Saturday night in Albany at the Robert Burns statue in Washington Park.

I've been listening to Chris Brabham at open mics for a number of months so hearing him as a feature was like listening to a "greatest hits" album. He confronts social/personal issues in direct statements, with images & phrases from daily life. The poems "No Justice, Just Us," "Will the Real Nurses Stand Up" summarize themselves in their titles & then bring the message into our faces as their lines pile up. And his deep, rich voice is perfect for "The Angel of Death Un-Plugged." It is always Chris talking to you, it is important, & you better listen.

I first ran into Caitlin Meissner over a year ago at the slam event at the Bayou Cafe. We both got quoted, on opposite sides of the slam issue, in the Post-Star from Glens Falls. But I haven't seen much of her performances. I have her chapbook, "Brick/byBrick," & her work is out there on the Net. She cut her teeth on Slam, still has the rhythm & accent of a slam poet, but discovered real poetry along the way. As a performer she can add spark to poems such as "Sister Song" but doesn't overwhelm it in spit & attitude. Of course, poems like "To the Woman Who Wants My Lover and Believes He is Only With Me Because I Am White" rose up out of the slam scene, are real slam poems but show how "slam" can be poetry too.

"Who Wants to Talk About Oppression" is one of those pieces that we don't care whether it is poetry or prose; it is in her chapbook, but Caitlin said she had never read it out before, & we are glad we were in that audience to hear it. Check her out at myspace.com/caitlinmeissnerpoetry. She has a CD too.

These are two young poets whom we need to pay attention to, & hope that they keep on writing.

Poets in the Park continues July 21, 7PM, with Barbara Louise Ungar & Erik Sweet.