August 23, 2008

Caffé Lena Open Mic, August 6

A big night in a crowded Saratoga Springs that ran the proverbial gamut from the sublime to the ridiculous, or something like that -- 23 readers & a wonderful feature by Steven Huff. Our host, Carol Graser, began with "Gloves" by under-read poet & activist, Margaret Randall.

There were a dream poems, poems about writing & art, a flock of "regulars" & quasi-regulars, a clutch of first-timers & new readers, even two poets with the same first-initial last-name. I didn't get a chance to verify names from Carol's list so apologies go out where needed -- & corrections will be made when I get them.

The featured poet, Steven Huff, read after about 6 open mic poets, including George Drew who read "To Steven Huff" a poem about his father & a dead cat (another cat-egory tonight?), in addition to 2 new poems. Steven's poems, many from his books, were characteristically narrative, often memoirs, with a couple of dark, dark elegies thrown in -- accessible, listener-friendly. He ended singing a song by the blues legend Son House who spent his last years in Rochester, NY where Huff lives & teaches. It's a tribute to the regular patrons of the Caffè Lena poetry night that Carol is able to bring in such poets.

Among the new poets were Nicole Whitechar who impressed folks with her memorized performance with acting gestures; Michael Rush; Melissa McCloskey with a piece just written today about the progress of the generations; Brooke Millington who was followed by her poised young son, Zephyr reading Shel Silverstein (where was Mary Panza when we needed her?); Diane Maiwald; & Robert Espada. Also among the new readers were Sandra K. & Patricia K. (no relation it seems -- & I'm assuming it was just a initial). Another new(er) poet (she has read at Caffé Lena previously) was Effie Redmen, "Minutes in a Moment."

The dream poets included Mimi Moriaty, whose dreams included Neptune &, separately, Bush & Cheney; & Mary Kathryn Jablonski whose "Heart Nebula Running Dog" had half a dog running in a white room.

Sue Jefts' "Before Coffee" seemed to be as much about writing as about the morning; Mary Cuffe Perez read "5 Minutes of Poetry"; & one of Jan Tramontano's poems, "The Troll," invoked the dreaded anti-muse.

The other readers were George Fisher with a couple poems in rhyme; Josh McIntyre; me, noting the 63rd anniversary of the dropping of the Bomb on Hiroshima; W.D. Clarke with "Cigars & Women"; Bob Sharkey at "Shell Beach Station"; "A Few Things About Nancy" Muldoon; & 2 short summer poems from Thérèse Broderick, including "Summer Olympics" on her deck.

First Wednesdays -- www.caffelena.org.