After the gig in Albany at Valentines, Charlie & I headed over to Connecticut to hook up with our host, Tom Nicotera, then on down to the open mic at Molten Java's down in Bethel on March 5. There were about 11 readers, with the host Robin assisted by Victoria Munoz -- who was a fixture throughout the subsequent events. Victoria is a friend of Tom Nicotera's & we would stay up to ungodly hours talking & gossiping & arguing & etc. until Victoria would drive off & we crashed for what was left of the night (morning). At Molten Java's Charlie & I did a half hour feature & answered questions. Bethel is down by Danbury & the open mic is every Wednesday, with different hosts.
On Thursday, March 6 we had a gig at the Prosser Library in the center of Bloomfield, CT. We had a great audience, encouraged & facilitated by our friend Tom, with logistics by the efficient & attentive Library staff. We did a 45 minute program & again took questions.
Friday night, March 7 was in many ways the best gathering of poets, being a party at Tom's house, not a performance. But Tom, who hosts readings in the area, had a sign-up sheet for open mic poets as well as a short play parodying Hamlet & Madame Butterfly. Among the poets who read were Lori Desrosiers who hosts a reading on Mondays at Jester's Cafe in Westfield, MA; the afore-mentioned Victoria, who is also a member of the poetry & music group Not Just Any Tom, Vic & Terri with Tom Nicotera & Terri Klein (who not only read but also acted in & partially wrote the evening's play). I also need to mention the poetry of Joan, Victoria's flute-playing friend, the haikus of Stan Forrester, & the fine poems of Julia Paul. Of course our host, Tom, was always ready with a poem or to accompany another poet on his trusty bodhran.
Saturday, March 8 Charlie conducted a workshop on "Truth: the Soul of Poetry" at the Buttonwood Tree, a fabulous performance space, community arts center, & bookshop in Middletown. Of course the point of the workshop is that poems are made up, they are Art, & whatever "truth" we give them is the validation of our own experience (if that sounds like bullshit, it probably is, but also the truth of poetry -- & we did have a lot of fun at the workshop). Later there was an open mic & our half-hour performance as the featured poets. Tom Nicotera was the host & read his poem "The Man from the Asylum" that references a scene from Fellini's Amaracord & is famously quoted in Charlie's poem, "What Men Talk About." Some of the poets had been at the workshop earlier read in the open mic, like Christine Beck, who read -- among others -- a poem about an accident while horse-back riding when she was 12 years old; Chandra Hale who included a simply but forcefully stated love poem, "Days Like This;" & the wonderful Julia Paul who read poems about the people eating dirt ("Geophage"), & the mysteries of "Truth Lies & the Hand Bags that Held Them." Also, "Sympetalous" (don't ask I don't know), who was also at the party open mic read poems in the same slam-performance vein as at the party; &, of course, Victoria (who loaned me her lovely alto saxophone when I discovered a series of problems with my ancient instrument).
All in all a great tour setting up important contacts with the CT/MA poets, making new friends & finding new audiences.
Be on the lookout for information about the Connecticut Beat Poetry Festival to be held in the Hartford area June 2 to 8. I'll keep you posted.