This was the night for the "airing of grievances" & "feats of strength." Let's just dispense with the "feats of strength" & say that no one attempted to pick up Shaun Baxter over their head. Perhaps it was because Shaun had filled his pockets from work with Proust or Gibbons or Henry James & was just too heavy to lift; perhaps not.
Most of the hosting duties were done by the "birthday boy," el presidente Thom Francis, with others jumping in as needed or inspired, as you will note as you read on.
I had to carefully think back to recent shopping experiences as Shaun Baxter started us off with a timely grievance poem, "An Open Letter to Holiday Shoppers from a Retail Worker" about those folks whose purchases don't scan correctly at the cashier & who cleverly say, "I guess it must be free." I swear, Shaun, I will never, ever say that again.
I had the dumb luck to follow him & promptly brought everyone's hilarity back down with "Richard Nixon Must Die." This is my grandest ever poetic grievance, printed by A.P.D. (accept proletarian dictatorship) as a broadside, published on Talkworks, a poetry cassette journal, read on WRPI, printed in The Greenhell Gazette & other gone zines, first read at the QE2, & the title poem from my aborted novel about the turmoil of the 1970's. It's been awhile.
Julie Lomoe (who was in the Lower East Side in the '70s too) "said the F word at the Y" -- a great line if there ever was one -- & told us about it in "Anger Management."
Rob Engelhardt disguised as Matrix: Misfired slipped on stage to introduce NicoleK. It would have been enough for her to read "Only the Girls Will Get This," a great litany to her period, but then had to kill us with "Fuck the Dutch," her hilarious epic search for Dutch cocoa. Gotta hear it again, soon.
Mary Panza introduced the cake, a lovely sheet cake some of us had to wipe from our hair & moustaches later -- everyone got 2 pieces -- then introduced the afore-described R.M. Engelhardt who, in his best radio-school-trained voice proposed "Let's Burn Down Albany," a poem he's been writing for years & years.
Chris Brabham's grievance was with "Reincarnation" -- he doesn't want to come back as a human & made it sound reasonable.
There were a few young perplexed citizens at the bar, & some old timers who didn't read, & one bicyclist (on an icy, cold night?) who kept getting texted, & who knows the undercover cop, who all hung out with "the elitists" eating cake, the Decemberists doing shots, & out-dated Octoberfests. Thom said it was his "best night ever." Hey, who would argue?
First Tuesdays at Valentines -- so probably not in January, which is New Years Day, but check www.albanypoets.com -- "one never knows, do one?"