October 17, 2008

Albany Poets Presents!, October 7

At Valentines' with our host, el presidente Thom Francis.

At the start of the open mic I took advantage of the short sign-up list to read 3 (albeit short) poems, "Vowels" (poetry & gas), "Zombie Gourd" (a la Alan Catlin's Bar Poems) & the American haiku, "Yom Kippur 2004." Moses Kash III followed me with a long introductory rant on Hillary Rodham Clinton then a shorter poem on black men & Abraham & Moses (either him or the Biblical one). Then a brief musical interlude by Nick DiPirro on guitar.

At this point Matthew Klane took over, first as featured poet, then to introduce the second featured reader, Vanessa Place. Matthew read from a new series he has been writing, "Sons & Followers," about John Brown, and in which he only uses words, phrases from Russell Bank's novel Cloudsplitter. A powerful piece in Klane's characteristic fractured manner.

Vanessa Place has been traveling around from Los Angeles "performing this book," her novel La Medusa (the University of Alabama Press). At 488 pages (an inch & a quarter thick), pound for pound word for word, the best buy of the night at $20. Her performance included tearing out random pages called out by number from the audience then have those folks read their pages. Thom Francis got page 22 & Douglas Rothchild read page 52 -- backwards. The author read the copyright page then read a section (which I haven't found yet in my copy) that was a list of classic & freshly made-up names for a woman's pudenda (which was not one of the terms included, to my recollection).

Back to the open mic, new voice Tessa Nguyen read a poem about a relationship, then "an American haiku" (didn't I say that too?), "Identity." Thom introduced RM Engelhardt as "the man of a 1000 jackets"; Rob read "If You Ponder It" from a collection of Sikh poems, then his own "After Myth," (which I think was chemistry when I was in high school). Another new voice, Adam Hoyt, read a series of "I-focused" short poems, like notebook ponderings. Finally, el presidente his-self read an untitled piece he does with his group "The House Band of the Apocalypse", what we know as "the trucker poem."

First Tuesdays, Valentines' near where New Scotland Ave. begins at Madison (in Albany, NY), 8:00 PM, some sort of donation, sometimes a feature, always beer.