June 11, 2008

Caffé Lena Open Mic, June 4

Our pleasant, relaxed host, Carol Graser, read Pablo Neruda's "Dog" to get us worded up.

I was in my "QE2 spot" on the sign-up list (the #1 that nobody wants) & read my new poem "Shaken, Stirred" (title given to me by Don Levy & lots of guidance by a tender poetry friend). I hadn't seen Sandra King before; she did "a little rant" & "I'm Sick of Silly Love Songs."

Mary Kathryn Jablonski made a welcome appearance & read "Mare Serenitatis" & Letter 3, both from her forthcoming To the Husband I Have Not Yet Met (from A.P.D.). Another rare sighting was Jan Tramontano who read 2 family poems, "The Tattooed Bride" & a sonnet about her grandson.

I was not familiar with the work of the featured poet, Christine Gelineau, but enjoyed her pleasant, chatty, constructed reading. Her poems were short (although she has written a chapbook-length poem, North American Song Line, from FootHills Publishing). There were plenty of flowers: peonies, lilacs, even peaches; cliffs in Ireland; a couple of stunners about a brain hemorrhage ("Island" & "Brain Storn"); & a couple about horses ("Open Range" & "A Short Poem About the Long Poem," not just about genres, something parents would understand). One of things I like (& there are many) about this series are surprises such as this, hearing good poets I had never heard before.

After the break, Carol Graser read "Skateland" about watching a kid roller skating. Another Mary-3-name, Mary Sanders Shartle, read 2 poems about losing intimate objects, one a wedding ring, the other "Double Amputee Below the Knee." Mimi Moriarty read a poem about separation & surfers, then "Quilting." "The Poet Who After All these Years is Still Broke," Richard Cowles, did his spanking take on the "priceless" MasterCard ad, then spun himself into "Dizziness."

Oneonta Slam Team anchor, Dan Stalter, performed an old piece about being in love with a junkie (for those of us who have been there). Romantic favorite, James Schlett, was once again at a pond, this time with a honey & "Cottonwood" musings on love, snow, then a short meditative piece from New Paltz & the Wallkill.

Lena-volunteer Liam did a word stew piece about love & India, "Old Blues," with an addendum. In a complete change of pace that characterizes the chance meetings on the sign-up list of open mics, Patrick recited the ole chestnut, "Casey at the Bat" (predictably in an Irish-American accent -- I think someone needs to do this poem in some other accent than Irish or Brooklyn someday, say Indian or Yiddish -- it would be a hoot). The night ended with a piece of "flash fiction" by Jonathan Siegel (without the "Livingston"), a Russian intrigue, "To Odessa & Back."

Tonight's reading was sponsored by Frank Robinson & Thérèse Broderick (& by the sonnet & the villanelle). Carol is always looking for money to run this series, so check out the Caffè Lena website for information or, better yet, come to the open mic & pickup a donation form. Maybe we can get Mary Lou Whitney to sponsor a whole year of poetry readings.

1st Wednesdays at historic Caffe Lena in toney Saratoga Springs.