May 5, 2008

Amrose + Sable Gallery, April 19

[Bernadette Mayer reading in my living room in the relocated Poets in the Park series, August, 2006.]

Just what I needed during WordFest: another poetry reading to go to. But this one I couldn't resist when I saw the line-up. The host was Erik Sweet who is contemplating making this venue a regular event. Actually, it once was -- when the storefront was Changing Spaces Gallery it was the site of my Third Thursday Poetry Night from April 2001 until January 2004.

The first reader was Bernadette Mayer. I've been following Bernadette's work since when I lived in the East Village in the mid to late 1970s (I even have a cancelled check endorsed by her from 1982 when I ordered a copy of United Artists #16; the check is pasted inside my copy of her "Golden Book of Words"). She is the former director of the St. Mark's Poetry Project & a legendary workshop leader. Check out A Bernadette Mayer Reader (she read "Failures in Infinitives" from it today) & Scarlet Tanager, both from New Directions. She reads with great enjoyment in her work, & laughs at her own jokes (& we do too!). Most of the poems she read were from new poems she is writing to cheer up a sick friend: "Flooding Scrabble Freezing Sonnet," "Wild Turkey Sonnet," "Power Outage Sonnet," others -- always great fun to see her read.

Sam Truitt is a young writer who has now finished up his degree program at SUNY & hoping to stick around. He started off reading new poems written here, in Albany, then from his book Vertical Elegies #5. He was a bit thrown when some random folks with young kids wandered into the gallery & had to find a poem that wasn't as "tawdry" or "violent" as he had planned to read. He ended with some parts from "The Song of Rasputin."

The work of Chris Martin (American Music from the wonderful Copper Canyon Press) was new to me & a very pleasant surprise. He read mostly from manuscripts, serial poems incorporating urban images, the leftovers & samples from pop culture; I particularly liked "How to Write a Mistake-ist Poem." He ended with a rap piece, "Programming Flowers," culled from lines from his book, sort of like all those white boys playing the Blues.

Philip Good's work needs to be out there more, so it was a great thrill to hear him read. He read characteristically short poems from various manuscripts. "Not the Great Horned Owl" repeats the lines for a humorous effect. In fact, the charm of most of his poems came from his quiet humor. One of the manuscripts he read from was a series of coffee poems: short, musing observations. Then, of course there had to be tea poems; they seemed to be longer, use more rhyme; he ended with one of them, "Out of Work Poet Dreams."

The tone, manner, ambiance, style & attitude was different from the WordFest swirling around me, & a pleasant break on an unusually warm, lovely April Saturday. I wonder if this is the start of a new series -- One never knows, do one?