February 11, 2008

Jawbone/AlbanyPoets, February 8

[Matthew Klane when he was the featured reader at the Third Thursday Open Mic at the Lark St. Bookshop.]

This is the ultimate in "town & gown" weddings, a stroke of genius on somebody's part, to wed the Jawbone series from SUNY Albany's English Department with the ongoing calendar of AlbanyPoets community activities -- & to do it at the U.A.G. Gallery on Lark St. Jawbone has been doing a reading series for years, first on the campus & more recently in bars & other locations "downtown." In fact, my first featured reading anywhere was at Jawbone in the SUNY Humanities Building about 20 years ago. Now the series combines student & experimental writers with community poets familiar to those who frequent the open mic scene. Tonight's reading was a book release party for the Flim Forum Press anthology "A Sing Economy" edited by Matthew Klane & Adam Golaski. Matthew was the host for the evening, with Adam down & out with the flu.

It was a night of experimental poems, the kind that leave you scratching your head & wondering where you are, with the occasional smile or "ah-ha" as you get a literary (or pop-culture, or science, or theological, or mechanical, or whatever) reference. Often the point isn't context or commentary, but, like music, just the play of words, ideas, images, against each other.

Deborah Poe, who is at SUNY Binghamton, read from "Elements," most of which are in the anthology, & some that aren't. I found it amusing that the poem "Potassium," a somewhat longer piece with literary references, has been published "in the current issue of Copper Nickel" & that Titanium is her "current favorite element." Hey, what's your favorite element?

Michael Ives, who isn't in the anthology, but is included in Oh One Arrow, Flim Forum's 2007 collection, read from his series "External Combustion Engine," and from a new manuscript, "Nines Fuses Floaters," none with titles, sounding like Zen koan variations.

Matthew Klane read some poems from poets who couldn't be there such as Mathew Timmons & Kaethe Schwehn, read in Matthew's halting, carefully articulated diction that made the poems sound like his, not a bad thing at all.

The last was also the best "performance," with poet Jennifer Karmin (from Chicago) reading with Matthew & with Deborah Poe, each reading together from separate pages of the first five Canto's of Jennifer's "Alice Cantos" (in the book), travels through Asia & Wonderland. The play of the voices like a trio sonata.

An enjoyable sampling of experimental poetics & well-attended as well. The schedule is irregular, so check out www.albanypoets.com (the Jawbone page on the SUNY Albany website has not been updated since Red Square), or check the UAG Gallery site, http://upstateartistsguild.org/poetryattheUAG.