This was a reading at the College of St. Rose held in conjunction with a sand mandala being make that week by Lama Karma Chopal. The first flyer I saw about the series of events at the Sanctuary simply said it was a poetry reading, with the theme of the poet as a political voice. A subsequent flyer described it as "a poetry reading open to all." So I wasn't sure if it was an open mic, or what -- but I always have a few poems tucked away in my bag in case a random poetry reading breaks out somewhere.
The evening was hosted by College of St. Rose English professor Barbara Ungar, & most of the participants were students at the college. The half-finished mandala sat in the middle of the simple open space that is the Interfaith Sanctuary. Barbara had brought some poems to get us started & for others to read, but we were free to read our own. She prefaced the reading with comments about growing up in the Nixon era & the relationship of politics & art, then read from Caolyn Forché's masterful anthology, Against Forgetting, poems by Primo Levi, Anna Akhmatova (an excerpt from "Requiem"), and excerpt from Auden's "September 1, 1939," & Gwendolyn Brooks' "To the Boy Who Died in my Alley."
Of course, I had gotten there early, just as the students were arriving, & ended up first on the list (just like the old days of the QE2); I read "Baghdad/Albany," which unfortunately scared one student to a spot further down the list. But Jonathon Drayton rose to the challenge to read his response to a Beyonce song; his poem called "If I were a Man". Samantha Stewart read a poem by someone else (my notes are illegible). This was a first-time reading for Alyson Lyons, reading "The Evolution of the Wind Mill" & her critique on her generation, "Separation."
Dana Cardona read a poem by Rumi & Marisa one by Lucille Clifton. Lauren Ruggerio read one of her own, "Beauty Consumes You." Joan Horgan works at the Sanctuary & read her poem inspired by the experience of a young student who had done political lobbying in Washington, DC. And Dan Henderson reminded us that since "we're all in this together" that Love, "It's All You Need."
A pleasant evening of poetry in a spiritual place, with some fine, young poets. I hope to see them out & about at open mics "downtown." Look for their pictures soon on www.flickr.com/photos/dwlcx.