November 22, 2008

Third Thursday Poetry Night, November 20

This was a night when the proverbial poetry Tour Bus arrived & arrived early -- Naton Leslie brought a group of students from his poetry class at Siena College into the big bad city to read poetry at the open mic. I actually started at 7:31. Our muse was Hayden Carruth, who left us recently; I read the last 2 sections from his long poem "Contra Mortem." He was one poet whose use of form did not overwhelm his lines.

Alan Catlin started us off, as he likes to do, with "Empties." Then Kristen Day added to my "one poem" rule with "5 Things That Irritate Me at a Poetry Reading." The first student of the night, Philip Anthony Hartshorn II, continued the number theme with "The 7 Sonatas of the Night," (a love poem).

Then 3 more students, Joseph A. Mastrogiovanni with the social commentary of "Handicapped;" Christian Jacobs "Sea of Flowers" sounded like a portrait, as was Ashley Anderson's chilling "Monkey Lady."

W.D. Clarke was back, with advice to guys in rhyme, "The Pipe Smoker." And Bob Sharkey paid tribute to singer-activist Harry Chapin.

The featured poet was Matt Galletta whose work I have enjoyed at open mics in the area. He read a variety of short pieces, some found poems, & did about 2 1/2 of the things that irritated Kristen at poetry readings. His Zen take "On Workshops" actually offered some good, if satirical, advice, & his flash fiction "Detective Story" took advice from Raymond Chandler to the extreme. Coupling this with another poem about lover's robbing a bank, I wonder if he has a secret life of crime. HIs poems are simply & directly stated, often wistful & humorously ironic. His last poem, "Snakes on a Poet" based on the movie by a similar name, ended with the statement that the audience "politely applauded," & we did.

After the break, I read my new work, still being picked at, "Dancing on the Mandala." Back to the open mic, Alan Casline is only 2 letters off from our first reader tonight, & read a series of short stanzas on gardening. Ed Rinaldi hit us hard with "Molestation as Dark Bread." Joe Krausman was just as grim with a meditation on parents' fear sending children out into the world. Moses Kash III commented on "Election Night" world-wide.

Another student poet, Bob McHugh, read a tale of an argument in a diner with a girl-friend (these students seem to have learned the important lesson of late 20th century poetry of finding subject matter in anything). Anthony Bernini read a tight piece, "Buck Road" (in Worthington, MA). Brooke brought us back to "October".

And the last student reader of the night Catherine Semel-DeFeo read clever, intricate "Nonsense." Our last poet, Roberta Adams, had been at the reading at East Line Books on November 8 & came to check out the scene, read about "Morphing into Mom."

In an old poem I once wondered, "Where were the Professors?" Naton Leslie proved tonight he was not one of those about whom the poem was written. The students who read were inventive, witty, engaged with the world & a lot of fun. I hope some them brave the big city on their own & come to more of the open mics. It's our (poetic) future.

Every third Thursday at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY, 7:30PM.