November 10, 2008

Caffè Lena Open Mic, November 5

Our host, Carol Graser, began with a short statement from a young woman at a detention center that defined poetry & open mics, "When people get together & say how they feel..."

Nancy Muldoon is a free-lance writer, read short poems "Freedom" & "American Culture" that were done before we knew it, a good way to start. I followed with an old post-election piece, "The Elect Shun Mourning & Celebrate," whose grim mood did not, this year, match my own post-election hope, & a new, in-progress piece, "Dancing on the Mandala."

I haven't seen D. Alexander Holiday around at readings in a while, but I recently picked up his latest book of poetry, All the Killers Gathered: Poems for my Daughter (Xlibris). He read the chilling description of Family Court in the Bronx, "If I Were An Artist," then read a related poem "If...," by Emma Cottrell from the Arabesques Review.

Richard Cowles appeared as "the poet writing his own introduction..." with 2 mercifully short & humorous performance pieces, "Foolish Accident" & "Not a Bit Curious," which included him running out of the room. Ryan Crothy went over the limit with 3 poems, all memorized, in rhyme & all by long-gone poets (I wonder if he writes his own stuff?).

Nancy Defoio read "The Sick Boy at the Table," & the childhood narrative "Mama's Pills." W.D. Clarke did the funny rhyming "Grandma," & the veterans' favorite "The Company Shit-Burner."

I think if I go to enough readings by Jay Rogoff, tonight's featured poet, I would eventually hear all the poems in his new book, The Long Fault (Louisiana State University Press). Tonight, only 4 out of the 10 poems from the book that he read he had read at his Skidmore reading (see my Blog for September 11), & they were ones I was glad to hear again ("Poets Park Mexico DF" is a perfect poem to end his readings as it is to end his book). I particularly liked "Aspirations," begun during Oil War I, & the poems about a teenage photo of his wife, "Looking Out" & "Shadow." He also included some poems from a forthcoming new book of poems on dance themes, The Code of Terpsichore, on dancing, of course; a couple of sonnets, "Latin Class," which I so much want to read, & the funny, sexy puns of "In the King's Arms." & here is one professor who hangs around for the open mic & to sign books at the end of the night. You'll get another chance to hear him read in February at the Social Justice Center Third Thursday Poetry Night.

I'd met Faye Bell elsewhere in Saratoga Springs, but this was the first time I heard her read her poetry, a wonderful poem of memory, clocks, & Time, "Regrets." Barbara Garro read "The Welcoming Kitchen" & an actual "Nightmare" (always interesting material for a poem). Thérèse Broderick's interesting Blog (linked at the bottom of the page) deals with ekphrastic poetry & one poem she read, "The Washer Woman," was based on a landscape painting. Her other poem, "I Single Saw a Woman Sitting," appropriated text from a book on old riddles.

Josh McIntyre's "Heaven on Earth" was a love poem, & then he read a short survey of the seasons, "Weather Whipped." Danielle Pierotti was new to me, read a grim poem, "The Wedding" then one about headaches. Pat Finnegan, a Viet Nam vet, read the rhyming "Prodigal Sons" which combined memories of going to Viet Nam with the corporate lies behind that conflict (& all wars), "Miami Beach 1972" which recounted the protests there by veterans against Nixon, & a third (for which he had permission from Carol), a more hopeful poem, "Morning."

Yvette Brown read a tender just-written poem on the anniversary of her husband's death. Bob Sharkey said he tried to compress his life into the one poem, "Perspective #3." A Skidmore student at the Caffe for the first time, Madeline Hennessey, read a response to Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart then a great flow of words in "Noun;" very impressive work from this young student.

Then other impressive work from another Skidmore student, Bob Langford, in a sermon on living life to the fullest. I think the last poet of the night, Gary Yeager, wasn't here earlier when Carol laid down the 2-poems rule so he recited 3 poems (almost) from memory, one by Yeats, one by Kipling & his own ballad "The Pumpkin My Sister First Saw" (I'd rather hear his work).

The first Wednesday of each month at Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs.