July 8, 2008

Caffè Lena Open Mic, July 2

The things you find out at an open mic: our host, Carol Graser wants to do the Monster-Truck-Rally voice! Fortunately, she just read (in her own, very pleasing voice) a poem by Joy Harjo, "Song for the Deer & Myself to Return On."

The first open mic poet hadn't read here before, but I had seen Anne Stocker read at Moon & River Cafe in Schenectady, which city her poem, "Hamilton Hill," was about. Local poet Margot Malia Lynch performed a litany/tribute, "Grinding," to women's bodies, history, their pain into story -- good piece.

Alan Catlin pointed out it was Franz Kafka's birthday & read "Kafka Goes to the Movies," then a poem about artist Stan Rice. My poem was "When you Finally Arrive Home..." (tribute to the CT Beat Poetry Festival) -- I like to take new poems around to the different open mics, revising as I go based on my experience reading them. Erin Moburg, no stranger to Caffe Lena, read "After South Africa," welcoming a lover home.

The first featured poet, Teresa Marta Costa,
has been involved with the poetry scene in the mid-Hudson area for many years, hosting a reading series at the former Cross St. Atelier in Saugerties & currently at the Book Bin in King's Plaza in Kingston (2nd Thursdays). She read new & older poems tonight, with lots of garden poems ("Chervil," "Thyme," etc.) & lots of kitchen poems, like "My Kitchen Floor," "Animated Food," & the hilarious "Refrigerator Fairies." Among others, a poem about sending poems out, & the touching "Either Or" for Enid Dame.

The second feature, also from the mid-Hudson area, Mike Jurkovic, has run the annual reading at the Widow Jane Mine in Rosendale (but not this year), among others. His short poems explore pop culture & observations when he is out & about, trying to tolerate (not always successfully) the bullshit around him. Everything from celebrity mug shots to trying to publish poems to traffic to "10048" (the ZIP code for the Church St. Station in NYC) to dead pens to legs on 7th Ave to the Grand Concourse in the Bronx -- essentially anything that enters his experience. How wonderful that these poets, so busy with poesy in the mid-Hudson, took their time to come up this way.

A young poet who has read here a few times before, Jennine Ouderkirk, played on modern clichés & phrases, then a love poem to a boy in Seattle. W.D. Clarke read in rhyme about 2 battles, Greasy Creek ("Their Last Stand") & "Gettysburg." Then Tim Verhaegan expressed his rage at drunk drivers.

Sometimes James Schlett's poems tend to parody himself, or at least the idea of himself, as a "Romantic" poet. Actually he is closer to the self-inflated Transcendentalists with their big, dreamy concepts of "Nature" when he mixes his poems with his journal musings. A phrase like "... beauty becomes illusory ..." is meaningless next to his more immediate images of 2 lovers up to their waist in a Vermont creek with cottonwood blowing around them like snow.

The poet who signs up as "Mona Lisa" adds a bit of color to this pale town, with a "Spiritual Glow" & the randy homage to a new man who wants her "Barefoot & Pregnant." More to the point, Diane Parisi read an homage to "The Women Before Me".

Another mid-Hudson poet, Donald Lev, editor of Home Planet News, hadn't been in Saratoga Springs since he was a child. He read "Mud," all the possibilities of connotations, then, as always, one by Enid Dame, "Lilith I Don't Cut My Grass." Like magic, "like a spell," Kathleen McCoy mused upon the myth of the woman poet. Alan Casline, of Benevolent Bird Press (Delmar, NY), let us know "I Am Not Filled," & saw the "Orbs of Dew Hang from Grass Tips."

Andy I., back again, says she doesn't like titles, so I wasn't sure (as perhaps it should be) if her poem was about a teapot or mist on a field (or perhaps both). Having no trouble with titles Terry Bat-Sonja read "The Fat Woman" about an Aubrey Beardsley picture, then "Wind Chimes" on unrequited love in California, that sounded like unrequited love anywhere else in the world.

The last poet of the night, local artist Barbara Garro, read 2 poems from workshops at the recent IWWG annual conference in Saratoga Springs -- so many workshops, so many poems.

Hystoryc Caffé Lena on Phila St. in Saratoga Springs, every first Wednesday for poetry (folk music, etc. the rest of the month, higher prices).