December 21, 2008

Third Thursday Poetry Night, December 18

At the Social Justice Center, with our host tonight "Sanity Clause" (as in "everybody knows there's no sanity clause..."). And each of the readers got to sit on Sanity Clause's lap to admit to being bad boys & girls all year, then get a gift of a poetry book or journal.

The first to do so was Alan Catlin who read "The Black Hole Martini" from a new anthology from Little Eagle Press, Bar Code. Then Dennis Sullivan followed with a poem about a blind pelican. TimV referenced the news item that President-Elect Obama will have homo-phobe evangelist Rick Warren give the invocation at the inauguration & read "California's Burning, Election Day 2008." In the photo, by Georgia Gray, he looks like he's having a good time sitting on Sanity Clause's lap. Don Levy read his poem about learning to be gay, "Everything is Coming Up Show Tunes for Me & for You." W.D. Clarke included a bit of show-&-tell with a faux-scrotum change purse for his "Ballad of Maggie Magee."

Tonight's featured poet was the director of Rootdrinker Institute & publisher of Benevolent Bird Press, Alan Casline. He began invoking the spirit of Coyote, then with 2 poems about local poets, "Benevolent Obsession" & "The Well." His "Preponderance of the Small," a winter poem, owed much to Gary Snyder, as do many of Alan's nature poems. He played upon "A Theory of Numbers," then read a long historical narrative about a spy during the Revolutionary War. His "refrigerator poem" "Feeding Charlie Cheerios" was about a dog, while "There Is a Source to Each River" was one of his Grandfather-carp poems. "3 Lines for Charlie" played upon various meanings of the word "lines" & was about a real person, what Alan described as "a social justice poem." He ended with one of the sagas of the character Perious Frink, "Perious Frink & the 2 Loud Poets." I've written previously on this Blog about Benevolent Bird Press, its series of hand-made chapbooks & broadsides, so it was a treat to hear Alan read a variety of poems in an extended set. Even he got to sit on Sanity's lap.

After the break I read my holiday love poem to my mother, "Christmas Eve, 1945."  New-comer Adam read "Dualism" composed of many small parts. Shirley Brewer was up from Baltimore visiting Rezsin & Ted Adams & read a "fantasy poem" based on a picture of Jennifer Lopez & her bodyguards, "Seven." Tom Corrado took off from the Dylan Thomas poem with "An Adult Christmas in Nantucket," much more fun that way. Mark O'Brien, also known as "Obeedude," debuted "Pushing for a Northern Route," which he described as a "Henry Hudson poem, or not." Gene Damm leered at Salome (from the Bible story) in "The Elders."

The women poets were in the minority tonight (to the chagrin of Sanity Clause), & they seemed to cluster toward the end of the night. Sally Rhoades read a poem about a cousin in Cyprus, "The Day Ali Left the Island." A.C. Everson also enjoyed Sanity's lap (as can be seen here in another of Georgia Gray's fine photos) & did her holiday favorite, often done with a pinata, "Santa Scorned" -- but this Santa (Sanity) did not. Moses Kash III read of the good wife & a love lost in "The God I Found." Typically ekphrastic, Therese Broderick read a poem based upon a "Holiday Card Post-Marked from Holland." Some of the short pieces (definitions?) that Matthew Klane read were as brief as 2 words so it was not a problem that he strung a bunch together, like string candy, for the "one poem" limit. He has a new book out of his experimental poems, B____Meditations from Stockport Flats. The last poet for the night (& for 2008, as he pointed out) was Bob Sharkey whose poem "61" combined the age 61 with recollections of the year 1961.

The photographer, Georgia Gray documented all the pleasures & pain endured by Sanity Clause throughout the night & I will be putting up soon on my Flicker site more of her pictures, so please check them out at

& join us every third Thursday at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY for an open mic & a featured poet drawn from the many fine local & regional poets we are blessed with here.