October 25, 2007

Third Thursday Poetry Night at the Social Justice Center, October 18



[This photo by Edie Abrams shows Dennis Sullivan reading with accompaniement by Alan Casline on bodhran & Tom Corrado on tuba.]

October in the Railroad Earth, the month of the anniversary of the Indians discovering Columbus on their shore & the month of Tom Nattell's birthday so he was the "Muse" & I did a couple of his Columbus Fantasies.

So then the strangest thing happened -- Dennis Sullivan, our night's feature had left a couple of free broadsides up on the counter by the sign-up sheet & our first poet up, Daniel Scott, who was unfamiliar to what we were doing, picked up one of Dennis' broadsides & read it. What a cool introduction to the night's feature -- how perfect. (Perhaps Daniel will return with one of his own poems soon.)

I like to say, "If your friends & relatives don't come to your readings, who will?" & Dennis proved my point by packing the house with cohorts from Voorheesville's Every Other Thursday Night Poets. First up from that group was Alan Casline, whom I've mentioned here before as publisher of Benevolent Bird Press & the Rootdrinker Institiute, both at P.O. Box 522, Delmar, NY 12054 (somebody remind me to write a Blog about these marvelous publications). Alan also published the 2 free broadsides & Dennis' chapbook Harvesting Silence. Anyways, Alan did "Treading Softly" from memory.

You'd never know Mike Burke was out there writing his working class poems if you didn't go to Voorheesville, but here he was in Albany reading a poem of lost love perfect for the season, "Fall Romance." Barbara Vink had been a feature on the Third Thursday way back at Changing Spaces Gallery; her poem, "The Tavern Keeper, in Memory of Frank Smith" is in her chapbook Heat Wave, also from Benevolent Bird Press (catching the subtext here?).

Edie Abrams (who took everybody's photo) broke open the political box with a moving rant & tribute to "Howl" that asked where are our leaders in "Wimp Nation." Obeedude is really Tim [whoops, I mean] Mark O'Brien & he did a Halloween poem, "Knick Knock".

Our feature, Dennis Sullivan, is a modern-day Bodhisattva in a Walt Whitman hat & beard. He's not often out at open mics so it was an even greater pleasure to hear him do a full reading. He was accompanied by Alan Casline on Bodhran & Tom Corrado on tuba & didjeridu -- both deep resonance of the spirits through life, a frequently perfect fit for Dennis' philosophical musings. A couple poems used classical references to ponder life, as in "The Test," using Ovid, & "After Seeing Breughal's The Fall of Icarus." Some ("Poor Passing Facts") just mused. The short parts of "Ten Stops at an Early Morning Oasis" were humorous musings with funny tuba & contained great advice ("listen/question"). "Into the Great Silence" was a response to the meditative film by the same name. The marvelous litany of "Psalm 4" of was a series of blessings for the goodness of life, an anti-Moloch poem. He ended with a tender elegy to a neighbor, Etta Hatch, over rhubarb & other neighbors' pettiness.

I, your bossy host, Dan Wilcox, read a new piece inspired by a conversation with 3 lady poets at Caffe Lena, "Poetry Prompts." 2 weren't here tonight. Then Tom Corrado put down his tuba ("...if you want to play the saxophone...") & did Frank O'Hara inspired short lines on fonts, typography, now I do this now I do that.

Bob Sharkey's new poem was "Perspective." And Sylvia Barnard did 2 stanzas on a real & imagined trip to Vermont. Therese Broderick's new poem was "Upon Hearing the News that A Poet I Love is Dying" & that is Christian Wiman (but then aren't we all, some just faster than others).

Tim Verhaegen read the poem I liked so much last night, "Finally." Has anyone else noticed he is like the counter-Blog with his comments?

Amanda Haney had shown up in August, fresh from Seattle, now was back with a poem (freshly written?) that began "I opened my eyes..." & continued on with her mother's voice & socks & all kinds of things. And Paul Amidon ended the night by taking us "Elsewhere."

Always the third Thursday, always someone new.