September 28, 2007

Poets Speak Loud!, September 24

[Our host, Mary Panza, at the Lark Tavern in January -- John Weiler on guitar.]

Twice in one week the featured poet doesn't make it to his/her reading -- global warming or the war in Iraq -- or just the Full Moon? Robert Milby had car trouble last Wednesday & Barbara Vink had pneumonia tonight. I'm guessing that both will be rescheduled eventually. So the host, Mary Panza read Barb's poem "The tavern keeper" from her new chapbook Heat Wave (Benevolent Bird Press, PO Box 522, Delmar, NY 12054 -- handsewn, individual wood block print covers, edition of 100 copies, from Alan Casline).

First poet up was new to the Lark Tavern (but I've heard him at Caffe Lena), Paul Amidon, with "Side Show" memories as a kid of a circus & a snake. I read a Calvin Trillin ditty about Republicans & sex (they like it a lot, just like the rest of us -- but lie about it) from my favorite magazine, The Nation, then "Eight Hermit Thrushes" written at Mary Jane Leach's Brick Elephant a few months back.

Cheryl Rice was up from Kingston and said "I Hear America..." whining (sorry, Walt), then told us the tale of one of those sad characters whose main social contacts in life is calling up The Phone Company, triggered by her drive through the south end of Albany.

Lacy Jean hardly ever reads but she's writing more poetry with all the big, happy changes in her life, & she liked the beef barley soup too. We can guess who was the king in the perfect world she dreamed.

I think this was the first time Alan Casline was here too. He read a couple segments from "an epic poem" he's writing, but I have this funny reaction of zoning out whenever anyone reads poems about dragons; it might've been good.

Zack did some rhymes on a lost love & changes in his life, & another piece on people as pawns -- sometimes we is & sometimes we ain't.

Now if NicoleK had been my 8th grade teacher rather than Sister Ann Eleanor maybe I would've liked school more. She had the guts to read from her journal when she was in 10th grade -- "wake up, there is a world out there" (sound familiar?), then every single girl's experience, "Liam Named Ted," meeting that fake Irishman at a bar (at least she didn't meet him in church).

Speaking of Irish, Bob Sharkey read "Suburban Tragedy," the all-too-common DWI, then an "obligatory war poem" on "Hearing Masters of War at Lark Fest."

Another new poet to the Lark Tavern, Lilliana Hernandez read a political poem explaining "Why the Poor Don't Exercise." And Dain Brammage explained in rhyme "Why I Write." Maybe the next time we could put these two together & we could find out Why the Poor Write & Why Dain Doesn't Exercise.

James Schlett brought us to one of those reflective moments, as he so often does, with "September," still another Grafton pond poem, this one with crows.

Another fun poetry night at the Lark Tavern (counter-intuitively on Madison Ave.), where my favorite waitress, Nicole, beat me black & blue with her dragonfly, & my steak was perfect. Every last Monday.

September 27, 2007

Third Thursday Poetry Night, September 20

Another third Thursday at the Social Justice Center, with your fantastic (objectively speaking) host, Dan Wilcox -- hey, that's me. And the muse was the late Grace Paley -- "It is the responsibility of society to let the poet be a poet..." ("Responsibility").

Alan Catlin started us off with "Marat/Sade, Mineola Playhouse 1967" -- ah, yes.

Joe Krausman read a poem by his friend Robert Couteau from Collected Couteau (Open Virgin Press, 2006), "The Existentialists," for his father, Tom Couteau, once my boss (it's a long story, but I'll tell it if you ask nicely).

Dayl Wise drove up from Woodstock & read about school memories, "Room 304," that he dedicated to Dave Cline, peace activist, former leader of Vietnam Veterans Against War & Veterans for Peace (see the earlier Blog on the Colony Cafe reading).

Sally Rhoades read a poem written on the train home today, "A Trip Home." She dances too.

I met tonight's featured poet, Miriam Herrera at John Montague's poetry Workshop at SUNY a number of years ago, have always been enamoured of her work & she included one she had workshopped, "Kiva at Chaco Canyon" (you can read it on her Blog -- see the link at the bottom of the page). But around it she hung a couple of longer poems that, in their quiet intensity, implicitly questioned the in-your-face slam performances that young poets think are tickets to success. She started with a glorious love poem to her husband, "The Poet and the Mathematician Hiking at Burnt Mesa." She brought us to New Mexico near the on-going detonations of Los Alamos, & Einstein & watermelons & Oppenheimer & the words of math & the problems of the soul. I got lost in her reading of her other New Mexico poem, "Kaddish for Columbus: Prayer for 500 Years" (also on her Blog), thinking Tom would have liked to hear it -- but then I suspect he did. And she ended with a dividend, a poem about her mother from Beyond, "The New Outfit," remembering "first sweetheart, first loss, first beer, first reminder you once were a girl..." I tape the features & this is one tape I will cherish.

After the break I read "Starting the Wine" (look for it here on this Blog) -- & wished she were here.

Mimi Moriarty told us "My Mother Never Wrote Poetry." Then Don Levy revisited recent scandals in Congress with "Tap Dancing in the Bathroom Stall."

NicoleK was back with the perennial relationship poem, this one titled "To Kenneth." Therese L. Broderick pondered harassing birds & Achilles' shield in "What Shines."

Kevin Lee Gilbert gets out of work late from the paper & was able to squeeze in with a series of linked haiku about the end of the world, "What Compensation."

That was the end of the list, but then I noticed Matt Galleta sitting there without having signed up so I shamed him into reading "The Class Photo" -- I'm glad he did.

Third Thursdays, the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., the money I steal from you supports the poet, the work of the Poetry Motel Foundation & the Social Justice Center. Please come.

September 26, 2007


[This poem is from The Poet Essence, performance poet extrodinaire, & the picture is from her performance in April at Point 5 in Albany. She has a couple CDs out; if you want copies, email me a comment & I'll pass it on to her.]

No Justice! No Peace!
No Justice! No Peace!

Doesn’t that sound familiar? Decades later the fight persists.
The Little town in Louisiana has started something
Fanned the flames Control the fire, condone racist behavior
I’m Appalled... That we are still hanging nooses on trees…and Marking territory as if the milestone of segregation was diverted to justify the means.
(Fact): Brown V. board of Education of Topeka 1954, 1955:
Outlawed as unconstitutional the segregation of Negro students in the public schools- Equal Protection
We are confusing our children and leaving bridges between cultures once protected by King’s “I Have a Dream” speech

No Justice, No Peace, No Justice, No Peace

With-in the last few years-topics of real nature takes back stage precedence over everyone’s concern about “Whitewash, the Federal Reserve and its greedy antics, the bush-bombers and the Clinton speeches of scrappy ends.
It’s in the middle of the states and….Now a real problem exist


Equal justice and protection
6 teenagers charged with attempted murder… Calculate the comparisons
Listen an 18 year-old college student, killed her baby
No charges were filed She confess to it
So to me for the majority: equal justice only matters on paper with presidents, and the typical look of the average citizen succeeds the minority,
Article#8 States: Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted... (The first ten amendments passed by congress Sept 25, 1798)
I don’t just mean The African American, Pakistani, or Latinos, Gays and lesbians.
I’m talking about anyone not resembling blond hair, blue eye, conservatives and their last name is not of a person of interest.
Please don’t look surprise and misconstrue my message
I’m thinking you’re feeling the same!!

No Justice, No Peace, No Justice, No Peace

Through media; does anyone ever notice how our character is defamed and the justice system play games?
It’s a felony, a life sentence to exchange street pharmaceutical services and…
A misdemeanor to sexually engaged w/a minor & Cross state lines exploiting children…
Those rallies were moving and supportive to the family, but what about the mortality of the other 1,300 living by commuter doors
Who’s going to tell them these six boys were provoked by 400 plus years of haunting interrogations
It doesn’t have to be a daily encounter, a college-bound test of the patience
I walk on the street and others clutch their pocketbooks…its 2007 What???
What is that really telling us; we still need to fight and open doors closed by the ignorant; the world needs to impose outrage and protest again
Leaving behind the “Sharptons” and the “J. Jackson’s”
….Because racism has no face and no place marching with leaders…


No Justice, No Peace, No Justice, No Peace

September 24, 2007

Zounds!, September 19

at the NightSky Cafe in Schenectady, with our host, Shaun Baxter (substituting for the substitute host, Liz King, who had been scheduled to host for Shaun Baxter -- or something to that effect). And the scheduled featured poet, the whirling dervish of mid-Hudson Valley (& beyond) poetry, Robert Milby was stuck somewhere else with car trouble.

Shaun shared William Carlos Williams' "El Hombre" & later did his much-parodied "This is just to say..."

Pierre, who had been here before, returned with more rhymes, "The Bus" & "The Witness" (about UFOs), & he squeezed another in at the very end of the night.

Dan Wilcox -- hey, that's me! -- read "Starting the Wine" (it's here on the Blog site) & "Taschlich."

Alan Catlin has been bouncing off the work of the Rices, Anne & Stan. She's the vampire novel writer & he's a poet & painter: "Anne's Doll" & "Self-Portrait with Two Hell's Angels Taking Christ Down with a Mule" (based on one of Stan's paintings).

Carol Graser read only one poem, "Speech Development" from her book that I keep telling you to buy The Wild Twist of Their Stems ( Would have liked to hear another, as always.

I don't know if he invented this term, but it's a good one: "prosti-tots", a species found especially prevalent in mall food courts, as described in Matt Galleta's "Look He Says."

Josh McIntyre's work is short & pithy: "No Hurry" (snow) and the back-to-childhood poem I like, "A Musing."

Tom slipped in & out like a ghost in a hoody, did a hip-hop piece on war & one on his dreams from a journal, "Madness & Dreams."

Our host, Shaun Baxter, read one of my favorites by him, now "slightly revised," "A Bookstore in Colony," and one about Autumn, "Last Call."

It's the third Wednesday of each month, NightSky Cafe on Union St. in Schenectady, 7:30 PM, usually a featured poet, always an open mic.

Colony Cafe, September 17

(This is Dayl Wise at another time at the Colony Cafe, Woodstock, NY)

[Somepeople have referred to my Blog as "reviews," but I like to call it a "commentary," more like a public journal, where I express my personal opinions about the readings/events I attend. The issue is that I am often a participant in the open mics & readings that I write about. Thus I can't (& don't) claim any "objectivity" on the subject (& I won't here now get into a discussion of this sham about "objectivity"). I've always been upfront about my involvement, my opinions, my presence at these events. As my Grandmother often said, "Opinions are like assholes: everyone has one, & they all stink, except your own."

That said, I was proud to be a participant in this reading bringing together writer-veterans who are included in
Post Traumatic Press 2007: poems by veterans. I have a great deal of affection for Dayl Wise, the editor, & his co-conspirator/copy-editor/wife Alison Koffler (both read at Poets in the Park this year), & for the other veterans/activists/writers included in the anthology. They are friends & colleagues.

I am not a literary critic, I am a literary activist (& erstwhile literary archivist).]

This weekly open mic in Woodstock, NY, tonight featuring poets from Post Traumatic Press 2007: poems by veterans, was hosted by Phillip Levine, as usual. Phillip began with a recording of the late Parker Holden performing with a band his poem "Living Under the Threat of the A-Bomb."

Stephen Dodge started off the open mic with 3 poems, then Phillip Levine with a poem referencing his custody battle. Victoria Sullivan did a Mad-Lib type thing that was an improvisation on the words supplied by the audience. Max Schwartz (photographer too) did a rambling "Viet Nam Hypocrisy."

An all-time favorite, Donald Lev, read a couple of his movie poems on the theme of "back to school" -- "Chalk" & "Switch Blade Sisters". Then, of course, one of beloved Enid Dame's poems, "Lillith's New Career."

Someone new to Woodstock this year, by her own admission, & someone I hadn't seen read before, Kate McKnighter (I didn't check Phillip's list so the spelling may not be correct), had trouble with her own words in one of her poems, & her poem about her first summer here, "This Morning" had some moments of poetry & vision in an otherwise long, meandering piece.

Alison Koffler, who has been in Woodstock for a while, honored me with her "Baghdad/Woodstock" -- thanks again, Alison. Ralph Childers read a poem by April Fitzsimmons, "The Things I Forgot," which has been published in the Veterans for Peace Newsletter (he told me later that he has written 2 versions of "Baghdad/Albany," one about Saugerties, the other about a town in Australia).

Dayl Wise, the editor of Post Traumatic Press began the feature part of the night with his poem "Walking My Dog While at War" which he dedicated to Dave Cline, the anti-war activist & former president of Veterans for Peace who had died earlier this week. Dave was mentioned throughout the night, his footprint large & deep on those of us who had met & marched with him. I remember him shouting himself hoarse calling cadence at the first big march in NYC against Oil War II in February 2003. Thanks, Dave, for leading us.

Thomas Brinson began reading a speech from the movie "Platoon," then a poem about the B1 bomber at Jones Beach, another called "Fallen Angels" and "Memorial," for Dave Cline.

Jim Murphy's poem explained that he was a "Fucking New Poet," another was about a Latino vet & one about looking in the directory of the Wall in Washington D.C.

The brevity of Richard Boes' novel The Last Dead Soldier Left Alive, which he read a few pages from, is overwhelmed by its intensity. I've been hearing excerpts for years & it is finally available from iUniverse,

World War II vet Jay Wenk read "Crossing the Rhine," his first poem. He is one of the group of activists battling the Kingston Mall over the right to do counter-recruitment leafletting outside the government recruiting station there.

Bob Lusk got us all to join in on his poem "Om," then took out his banjo to do "White Crosses," to the "ticky-tacky houses" song from the '60s, & finished with "Lot 16."

Marc Levy came over from Gloucester & began with a surrealistic prose piece displaying thousands of medals because "anyone can say they were in Viet Nam..." He then read the two poems from the collection, "He Would Tell You" with it's dark images from war, and the unsettling "An Open Dream to Residents of the United States."

Larry Winters does a lot of good work with people with PTSD & is the author of The Making and Unmaking of a Marine. He read 2 poems from the collection, "Confession" with its contradictions, and "America" ("I killed for you..."). Try for his book.

I guess I (Dan Wilcox) was the rear guard, reading last in the group, doing poems not in the book: "for Hugh Thompson, Jr." (for Dave Cline), "Patriotism," & "Baghdad/Albany."

Just before the break, Phillip Levine shared his anti-war piece "Rivers & Gardens" as a fitting end to the segment.

I hold it to be bad form for featured poets to leave after they read, as many often do particularly here in Woodstock. This night there had been about 8 open mic poets, then about 9 poets in the feature, so by the time the break came around my companion & I had to take the long ride back to Albany. So I apologize to any of the open mic poets who where left after the feature. I'll catch you again next time, someplace else.

Anyone interested in getting a copy of Post Traumatic Press 2007 may contact Dayl Wise at, or me through this Blog.

September 22, 2007


This wine, a surprise
to our lips, after reading
about melons and berries
the tongue is surprised, too
as is the heart (some say
the nose is where we taste)
--did I say Heart yet?
where we are surprised
at the mystery on our lips
confusing the wine
with a kiss when
the bottle is empty.

September 19, 2007

Poetry and Performance, September 15

This was a reading/performance, organized by Denie Whalen of New York Expressive Arts & co-sponsored by the Hudson Valley Writers Guild. The performers were Elizabeth Gordon McKim & Steve Clorfeine. They had conducted a workshop for New York Expressive Arts earlier in the day & their performance was in the Nia-Yoga space on the main floor of 4 Central Ave. It was perfect venue for these performers, an open space with the city through floor-length windows on one side, mirrors on the other, & a bank of plants & ceramics behind them.

The opening piece was a collaboration that evoked (& invoked) the moon, mountains, water, part of which Elizabeth delivered "in tongues" that sounded like some American Indian language. The poets played off lines & movements against each other & it wasn't until the end of the night, in conversation, that I found out it was improvised. It flowed as smoothly as a well-rehearsed set piece. Like great jazz, good performers being sensitive to other's work & responding, transforming, riffing.

The rest of the evening they read from their poems, back & forth. Elizabeth at one point read from her memoir of her time with the great American poet Etheridge Knight.

A good, expressive, poetry evening. It would be good to use this space more.

September 16, 2007

Lark Fest 2007, Saturday, September 15

(Here's a shot of Uncle Don at Lark Fest 2005 back when the poets were behind the port-a-potties, which made it easy to remember where they were & find them, even if you only had to piss.)

I'm not a big fan of these festivals, especially for poetry -- over-priced vendors, the same hot dogs & pizza & lemonade everywhere (I did find some decent clam chowder, overpriced, of course), crowds, wobbly port-a-johns, sanitized bands, cute honeys (oh, wait, that's a good thing). But Albany Poets did the best it could under the circumstances, & I think having poets do short, zingy sets between bands was a good idea. I especially liked Jim Gaudet's new band, &, of course, the Jug Stompers.

I did catch most of the poets in between walking around looking at coin-slots, although I had gotten there "late" (according to Don -- I didn't know he was taking attendance), & missed some of the first poets. Fortunately, I was just in time for Carol Graser, whom I always enjoy, reading from her new book, The Wild Twist of Their Stems ( I've told you already to buy this book, so why haven't you?

John Raymond is also great to hear anywhere, even if the band was tuning up & the bag-piper at the John Jameson tent was keening up the short plaid skirts of the colleens. Shaun Baxter also read & read Shaun Baxter poems, & one by Dan Wilcox (thanks, Shaun, I was honored).

Poor Deb Bump was wandering lost on Lark St., so Don Levy & Dain Brammage filled in at the end -- perhaps Deb surfaced after I left, so I never got to hear John Weiler's silenced guitar.

Of course, like the bands, you don't get to hear some of the poets' real stuff, having to censor themselves for this "family oriented" event. As my Grandmother used to say, "You can't say shit even if you've got a mouthful." I got in trouble a few years back when I read for doing a poem about what I couldn't (& didn't) say & haven't been asked back. But if I am asked back, it will rain.

The best part of these events, 'though, is the people you meet & hang out with, like Cheryl & Michael pondering Albany, like the "long-lost" Zitomers & their recently married daughter, like Lacy putting on a shirt -- you can't buy tickets for shows like that.

Live from the Living Room, September 12

Another pleasant evening of poetry & conversation at the Capital District Gay & Lesbian Community Center, with host Don Levy.

The featured poet was Albany's favorite world-renowned poet, Pierre Joris. Reading from 2 slim, black loose-leaf binders, he first shared some poems about writing and a sequence of short pieces written at & inspired by Justin's in Albany: loud patrons, the music, whiskey, George Muscatello's guitar, you've been there. Then sections 22, 23 & 24 from the ongoing "Meditations on the Stations of Mansour Al-Hallaj," word-plays on the shape & meaning & associations of words in English & Arabic (Mansour Al-Hallaj was a Sufi mystic & itinerant saint). Anchorite Press has published an artful chapbook of sections 1-21; email for information on how to get a copy.

After a break, the open mic began with A.C. Everson reading a poem by Scots poet Leon Conrad, "A Trip to the Body Arts Palace," a wonderful pastiche of the A.A. Milne poem, but in this updated version Christopher Robin (& Alice) visit a tattoo parlor -- a poem close to Annine's heart (or at least her arms, legs, back, etc.).

Alan Catlin has discovered the paintings of Stan Rice (the husband of Anne, the vampire writer) & gave us a grim "The Crime Scene," then a meditation about being a literate person who earned his living as a bartender, "A Strange Comfort Afforded by Profession" (& thus the source of so many of Alan's poems).

"The Peach" is a short erotic poem Gene Damm wrote for the now-defunct "Soul Kitchen" series, then read "Pruning it Back," to create a brief, connected series (or not).

Jim Masters has done a poem previously on the beginning of the Hebrew bible, tonight he did one based on the "Magnificat" from Luke, fascinating play on the language & ideas from the text.

Nicole Peyrafitte pondered a different type of text, the music & fellow patrons of a recent Tony Bennett concert in NYC -- Nicole went twice!

The theme for the night seems to have become "texts" of one sort or another & I had brought 2 older poems that coincidentally fell into that category: "Those Big APR Poems..." & (since it was Rosh Hashana ) "Taschlich."

Bob Sharkey's very interesting piece, "The Trail," used a found restaurant receipt & the song "Say it's Possible" to imagine what was possible, which, after all, is the role of artists, isn't it?

Shaun Baxter didn't read any of his own work, but instead from the out-of-print novel Seeds of Grass by Jonathan McFarr, about the descendants of Walt Whitman & a prostitute.

Our host, Don Levy, read from Jacque Prevert (to Pierre's delight) & his true story account of a "Sermon in the Bus Shelter" -- such fun on CDTA.

& such fun at this reading each 2nd Wednesday, 332 Hudson Ave., Albany -- NY, but then you never know.

September 10, 2007


The ever-evolving Other: ___ -- the editors say they are moving from Quarterly (& even less-frequently than that at one time early on) to monthly, soon, like next month -- out wherever you can find it, from AlbanyPoets (add the .com if you look for them online). I got my copy at the open mic at Valentines recently & recommend that if you want a copy, come to LarkFest this Saturday & look for the poetry readings behind the port-a-potties, or to Poets Speak Loud on September 24 at the Lark Tavern; if you can't get there, try emailing them at

This issue has 21 local writers/poets & like a printed open mic everything from the sublime to the ridiculous, or almost ridiculous. Many of the open mic poets are included, like The Poet Essence, Shaun Baxter, A.C. Everson & Alan Catlin. But we all know that there are plenty of poets out there who for one reason or another can't or don't get to open mics & stay home scribbling. So the great service & dis-service this zine does is bring some of them to us.

Some in this issue are obviously just starting out, like when we see the "virgins" at open mics; some have been around awhile & really need to read some poetry that has been written since the middle of the last century; & of course there are the con artists (I didn't know you could get a degree from the NYS Writers Institute) & mis-guided. So I've avoided embarrassing anyone by not mentioning names. Hopefully some of those published for the first time in these pages will read poems other than their own, & keep writing.

There really is no one else any longer printing local poetry on a regular basis. This is the great service this fine little zine does for the writing community, as well as promoting the open mics in this area.

But there is one more little issue I must deal with (you figured there had to be something, right?). In Ford McLain's bio he states he was born in 1968, "one of the worst years in American history." Now that takes self-deprecation to a new nadir. I mean, most of us who lived through that time know what fun it was; there are whole books written about that one year, for example Ed Sanders' 1968. Maybe 1969 was better. But then little Ford was only one & wouldn't remember that either.

September 9, 2007

School of Night, September 6

It's back -- or is it? Most new open mics get off to a slow start with only a few poets showing up the first time. But this may have set a record with only 3 of us there, counting the host R.M. Engelhardt. The other readers were Rob's co-conspirator in "Dead Man's Ink", Jason Dalaba, & that pesky compulsive open mic habitue, me.

Rob has a reputation of starting very late, yet still I got there (where "there" is will be explained in full soon) before there was even a bartender at the basement bar. "School of Night" is a name that Rob has given to many incarnations of his open mics, dating back to the Lionheart when it was where Bombers is now. Now the "School" is at Ballingers, one of the new, trendy, uppity bars of downtown, at Howard St. & Lodge St., where once was Ogden's. Three floors of bars: a patio upstairs, a living room type setting, & a basement, or "The Cellar" with exposed brick & a slate bar. It's not the kind of place where poets go, the cliental here is mover & shaker wannabes who think paying high prices is a sign of success -- I mean, bottles of Heineken were $6 & I heard someone pay $11 for a Maker's Mark (it's no wonder the owner is a millionaire with those prices). Poets like cheap beer. Personally I think it's just an attempt to pad the audience for the later "Absinthe" event, also run by Rob on Thursday nights, with bands & '80s music (whatever that is) & a cover charge for guys but not for the women (someone please file a court case on this).

Which brings me to another issue -- most poetry events are run by someone in the community feverishly looking for a place to gather with poet friends & read &/or drink/hang out. Rob works for Ballingers. Not that there is anything wrong with that (I think some Borders open mics were run by employees), but it does make you wonder who is promoting what.

Then there were the mini-disasters/macro-annoyances, like the sound check on a mic that wasn't used -- with only 3 of us to read it wasn't bad not to have a mic, but they will need one for future events -- that is if anyone shows up. Then the Disco Ball -- another beer & I would've puked (next time maybe I will). Oh yeah, the loud dance music before & after the reading. Not one of your premier poetry venues. But I was glad to have some time talking to Jason about his poems, & publishing & print-on-demand, & whatever else we talked about. It was enough to make me nostalgic for the Skyline Pub & its undercover cops.

And why did I have to explain that when I said, "It Sucks" after Rob read Rudyard Kipling's poem "The Vampire" I was making a joke about vampires, not the poem? -- but now I wonder, "Rudyard Kipling?!"

September 6, 2007

Albany Poets Present!, September 4

After a couple months of being shut-out by punk bands or the summertime blues/beers, this relaxed, casual open mic was back, still the host, el Presidente, Thom Francis, who at one point read his poem about "Jesus walking on the water flowing down 4th St....", an old favorite. Also, Other: Eight was out, with free copies for everyone -- more on this in another Blog one of these nights.

Despite the first two readers, Dain Brammage ("I wish the big corporations would stop frontin'") & me, Dan Wilcox, the rest of the readers were mostly new & new-ish faces. Like Janice McNeal singing "yea, yo" before a family story of "Learning Grace" from Mama, then "The Ever Evolving Flower."

Michelle Planamento was on & off stage almost before I could get her picture, with 2 short notebook entries, so I hope she comes back so we can hear more.

Sahli Cavallaro has been here before (& at WordFest), but not in a while. Two poems about people obsessed. "Translucent as blood on a flashlight..." was one brilliant phrase from "Sadness & Light." The second obsession was a painter with cats & themes & the process stalking her brush. Intense & upsetting, yes.

Matt Galleta has a couple poems in Other: Eight & read as a tribute to that, "Lemons" on a lit magazine's project to print a collection of the worst, the rejected poems (hmm, but if they're printed are they still "rejected"?).

I immediately thought "Sex" hearing Nicole Karas begin her poem "Thick" which then proceeded to describe fucking like dancing. Then her autobiography told through "Snapshots" with all the changes in her hairstyles & ending with her appearance tonight, on stage, at Valentines, reading her poem.

I wonder if Shaun Baxter thought about combining the activities in his two poems, the first about those inane drinking games (like, who needs a pretext to pour booze down their throats?), and watching "Woody Allen Films", specifically "Hannah & her Sisters". Would it improve the film or ruin the drinking?

We thought it was over then, but Dain Brammage, perhaps commenting in his own grumpy way on the evening's poetry, wanted to read "Inane Echoes," & he did. & then it was over, before you knew it.

First Tuesdays of the Month, at Valentines near the beginning of New Scotland Ave., 7:30/8:00 -- but watch out for punk bands.