February 21, 2008

Poetry At the Hudson, February 16

[Poetry on the Hudson Host Bob Wright at the Social Justice Center some time ago.]

I hadn't been there since I read last year at its inaugural reading & I kept looking for the Parthenon until I remembered, "Athens New York, not Greece." But the grand Hudson River is just down the street.

Bob Wright began with 2 poems ("2 poems or 4 pages, whichever comes first" was the limit), "Together" & "Waiting". I read a recently completed (with the able editing of another poet) poem about my son "Jack Sketching, " then the William Carlos Williams pastiche "So Much Depends Upon..." (which is somewhere on this Blog).

In a characteristically humorous & puzzling Ron Rybecki performance, Pierre discussed books he'd brought from his library & a recent newspaper article until her ran out of time for his "poem."

The always-fetching Cheryl A. Rice read a new piece, "Camouflage" that knitted together a scarf, a visit to MySpace, children and going to war, then, for the anniversary of Plath's baking, she read "Syliva at Least." (We do miss the annual Bake-Off.)

Mimi Moriarty read 2 family dinner memoir poems, "After Dinner Prayer" & "Silent Sabbath." Marion Menna made a rare appearance with 2 flying-creature poems, one a childhood memory of seeing Monarch butterflies in a tree, the other about drawing kill-deer.

Leslie Gerber, in his best radio voice, was the open mic hit of the day with the funny, quirky litany of "Dreams." Reading later that night in Kingston Matthew J. Spireng had time for one "Fire."

Barbara Adams was the first of the featured poets & began with a bunch of recent poems, some monologues (by Eve, a man from Wales & an aging former Miss America who shoots out the tires of the car of a thief), some poems on food ("Organic Medicine" & "At the Genghis Khan Buffet"), other ponderings, including one written 3 days ago, "Carbon Footprint" on the cars waiting in line. She concluded with some older poems from her publications, "Burying an New England Husband," one about a Russian street vendor in Manhattan, & "Cambrian Clay."

The former actor Guy Reed's poem all seemed to come out of notes about something seen, like the paintings of his father-in-law or a pretty girl ("A Poem about Light Bulbs, Potatoes, & Collar Bone Tattoos"), or "A Patch of Walt's Grass." Or about crows: "Crows of Time" & "Natural Order at 60 Miles Per Hour." Or about the Big Ideas, of Love, or Death: the "Observation" that all songs are about Love, or all songs are about Death, depending upon what you just experienced; "Air Travel Take-Off"; the humorously titled "A Crises in Existential Linear Thinking on the Road of Life"; & 3rd grade Melancholy, in "October Grey." He ended with the common poetic experience of a dream-poem lost, "Still Life with Acorn."

A pleasant afternoon, with some piano musings by Don Yacullo. On the third Saturday of the even-numbered months (try & program your calendar for that one), at the Athens Cultural Center on Second St. in Athens, NY, with your host Bob Wright.

February 13, 2008

Woodstock Poetry Society, February 9

[Jay Wenk (right) presenting a certificate of appreciation to Bob Lusk for his work with the Kingston Mall counter-recruitment effort. All photos by Alison Koffler.]

The featured readers at this monthly open mic at the Woodstock Town Hall (hosted by Phillip Levine) on this snowy day were poets/veterans who are in Post Traumatic Press 2007: poems by veterans, edited by Dayl Wise & Alison Koffler. I am included in the anthology & am friends with the other readers, just so you know.

The day began with open mic poets, coincidentally (or not, who knows what forces are out there) in the first half all veterans, but not included in this anthology. Bob Silverberg is a World War II vet who lives on Cape Cod & was given extra time for his effort of coming this way. "Okinawa 1945" describes the bodies of a family outside the doorway of their home, "collateral damage," as the press likes to say today. "Numbers" describes the dilemma of how many flags to buy for a memorial in an ongoing war, & the impossible question, "Which War Were You In?" He ended with a message to the President, "Don't Look Don't See."

W.D. Clarke has been a regular at Caffe Lena, & made the trip down to share his experiences of visiting "Normandy," then a tribute to "The Nurses," & his visits from his buddies as "The Night-time Army."

We needed the humorous -- nay, hysterical -- break of Ron Whiteurs' "Lumber Jack Love," with sawdust in his underwear, & his vaudeville-like title card on the music stand. He also mentioned that he was veteran.

Dayl Wise started off the feature section with a poem from the anthology by Jose Vasquez, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, "Among the Machines."

Bob Lusk followed with banjo, with "White Crosses" (remember the 1960's "ticky-tacky houses song"?), then with guitar on Johnny Cash's talking blues about going to play music in Viet Nam, then ended with a song about being tired & weary working for peace -- but keeping on. Jay Wenk & Dayl called him back & presented him with a certificate from Veterans For Peace for his work with the Kingston Mall counter-recruiters.

Fred Nagel video-taped the event & read 2 of his poems from the anthology, "The Pilot's Song" & "War of the Ants."

Marc Levy, Dayl's one-time Brooklyn roommate, came over from Gloucester & read 2 graphic pieces with vivid, violent incidents in Viet Nam made all the more dramatic by his quiet, undemonstrative reading style.

Thomas Brinson was recently elected to the Veterans For Peace board; he read one piece from the book, "Valentines Day 1968" & and a new piece, "The Bone," about the B-1 bomber being the star attraction at an airshow at Jones Beach.

At some point Jim Murphy won't be able to assert "I'm an FNP (Fuckin' New Poet)" if keeps reading his fine work out. Also did "Scapular" going from altar boy to Viet Nam, then a poem responding as a REMF. Ending with a prose memoir, "Arnie's Song," a pet duck in Viet Nam.

Perennial trouble-maker Jay Wenk, another WWII vet, read a from The Nation about the suicide of a young Iraq War veteran, some pieces about poppies, a memoir of his service in Germany that he wrote last night, & his piece "Over There" from the book.

Larry Winters is the author of The Making and Un-Making of a Marine (Millrock Writers' Collective, 2007). He read poems not in the book, "The Soldier Inside Me," "Iraqi Blues," and "American" on our addictive consumerism.

My first poem I didn't have to read at all; instead, 6 members of the audience were coerced into reading "Why Are We Here?", I only had to do the intro & the last line (a collaborative poem based on interviews with vigiling peacemakers). Then I read from the book, my poem "A Pain in the Neck."

Dayl Wise concluded the feature part of the reading with his moving "Room 304" which is in the book, and "Stop Round Eyes or I Will Bite."

Phillip continued the open mic, bringing up Bruce Weber who read from "The Curious Journey of Belinda & Mark", and followed by Bruce's wife, Joanne Pagano Webe who continued the saga, reading in her finest "BBC accent."

Alison Koffler, who had been taking photos all afternoon, read her poem "Late August".

Our host Phillip Levine ended the afternoon with his marvelous short piece, "Thread."

It was quite an afternoon of poetry, memories, activism & comrade-ship. Copies of Post Traumatic Press 2007: poems by veterans are available by mail by sending a check for $15 (made out to "VFP Catskill Mountain Chapter 058") to Post Traumatic Press, Dayl Wise, Editor, 104 Orchard Lane North, Woodstock, NY 12498. Copies are available at the Borders on Wolf Rd. in Albany. I also have copies for anyone local for $12; email me to arrange it.

Woodstock Poetry Society (http://www.woodstockpoetry.com), 2nd Saturdays, 2PM, Woodstock Town Hall, features & an open mic.

February 11, 2008

Jawbone/AlbanyPoets, February 8

[Matthew Klane when he was the featured reader at the Third Thursday Open Mic at the Lark St. Bookshop.]

This is the ultimate in "town & gown" weddings, a stroke of genius on somebody's part, to wed the Jawbone series from SUNY Albany's English Department with the ongoing calendar of AlbanyPoets community activities -- & to do it at the U.A.G. Gallery on Lark St. Jawbone has been doing a reading series for years, first on the campus & more recently in bars & other locations "downtown." In fact, my first featured reading anywhere was at Jawbone in the SUNY Humanities Building about 20 years ago. Now the series combines student & experimental writers with community poets familiar to those who frequent the open mic scene. Tonight's reading was a book release party for the Flim Forum Press anthology "A Sing Economy" edited by Matthew Klane & Adam Golaski. Matthew was the host for the evening, with Adam down & out with the flu.

It was a night of experimental poems, the kind that leave you scratching your head & wondering where you are, with the occasional smile or "ah-ha" as you get a literary (or pop-culture, or science, or theological, or mechanical, or whatever) reference. Often the point isn't context or commentary, but, like music, just the play of words, ideas, images, against each other.

Deborah Poe, who is at SUNY Binghamton, read from "Elements," most of which are in the anthology, & some that aren't. I found it amusing that the poem "Potassium," a somewhat longer piece with literary references, has been published "in the current issue of Copper Nickel" & that Titanium is her "current favorite element." Hey, what's your favorite element?

Michael Ives, who isn't in the anthology, but is included in Oh One Arrow, Flim Forum's 2007 collection, read from his series "External Combustion Engine," and from a new manuscript, "Nines Fuses Floaters," none with titles, sounding like Zen koan variations.

Matthew Klane read some poems from poets who couldn't be there such as Mathew Timmons & Kaethe Schwehn, read in Matthew's halting, carefully articulated diction that made the poems sound like his, not a bad thing at all.

The last was also the best "performance," with poet Jennifer Karmin (from Chicago) reading with Matthew & with Deborah Poe, each reading together from separate pages of the first five Canto's of Jennifer's "Alice Cantos" (in the book), travels through Asia & Wonderland. The play of the voices like a trio sonata.

An enjoyable sampling of experimental poetics & well-attended as well. The schedule is irregular, so check out www.albanypoets.com (the Jawbone page on the SUNY Albany website has not been updated since Red Square), or check the UAG Gallery site, http://upstateartistsguild.org/poetryattheUAG.

February 10, 2008

Stand Up!

Everyonceinawhile I like to get back to some of the basic concepts here in this little corner of cyberspace to remind us all about what we're doing here.

Everyone knows who writes this Blog -- it's me, Dan Wilcox. You can respond with a comment, or send an email directly to me from the Blog by using the email link, (you can even use my email to sign me up for lists I wouldn't want to be on, if that is your own sick sense of humor); hell, some of you even know where I live, my phone number, can visit me, call me up. But I don't know who you are in the comments on my Blog unless you acknowledge your comments in some way.

When you place a comment on this Blog, unless you have your own Blog on Blogspot.com, then your email address is not displayed & you are designated "Anonymous." Most of you who comment sign your name or your initials or a tag or some such identifying mark so I know who your are. But there are some others who don't, & who hide behind the mask of "Anonymous." There is nothing to stop someone from doing that, but I tend to ignore unattributed messages, like crank phone calls or calls from telemarketers.

To leave an unsigned comment, like an anonymous letter in real-mail, is cowardice. If you believe in what you say, sign it. I do, that's why you respond to my Blog, you know who I am. I expect the same courtesy.

February 6, 2008

Albany Poets Present! February 5

[Our host, Thom Francis, on another night, on the stage downstairs, where we will be next month with 3 Guys from Albany)

at Valentine's, but we got kicked upstairs, the vacant, poorly lit, sticky-floored, cavernous, drippy-ceiling, no-bartender upstairs because of some bands playing downstairs that had less of an audience (of course we paid nothing) than our modestly attended poetry open mic -- go figure.

In the absence of an sign up sheet (we went counterclockwise, around el presidente) I read first with a "Pick Up Line" for the woman at the bar doing shots, & "Put Down the Government Rag" for the former-first-lady in a pants suit with her mouth around the Corporate Dick.

R.M. Engelhardt hasn't been here since he precipitously moved "School of Night" to the Fuzz Box a few years back. You can find "Guilt" on his MySpace-wannabe project, http://thehonesttransmission.ning.com, to judge it for yourself. Also a poem in the Romantic tradition where the Poet, even an idiot poet, is the transmitter of truth & justice for all.

Chris Brabham gave us a sequel to his praise of his profession with "What Ever Happened to Nursing?", then a litany of hope for Valentines' Day, "Give Me a Love."

Reading from a her high school marbled composition book NicoleK read some of her classroom poems, "Red Bow Tie" in her AT English class (we all knew she was smart!) & the "Ode to a Barbizon Representative" (she didn't sign up).

Chris Robbins' accent betrayed his Boston origin, read a tribute, "Womanist Poetry Day," then a poem to hippies, "Flower Power," of course.

Shaun Baxter built the "Great Wall" with croutons in his salad in his kitchen -- I could see it, then I ate it.

First Tuesday (just like Election Day) of the month at Valentines, near the beginning of New Scotland Ave., Albany, 8:00PM.

February 5, 2008

--a White man's appreciation--
(dedicated to Charles Mingus)

"the keystone of the wandering continents"

Africa that great Black mother of us All that we have bleached from our souls & now bring back to our skins with vats of oil squeezed from rocks, from nuts, from the flesh of fish & cows

Africa the Mother to my White mother's mothers

Africa the Mother we are no longer worthy of

Africa the Mother of those stolen from her & left to toil in the sun

Africa before Mohammed, before Christ, before Abraham & Moses, before even gods crafted in wood or gold or mud

The Africa of David, of Jacob, the sons now further from Her than in the days of Paul

Africa where we shuddered in dread at lightening or gasped in the dust of summer before the blessings & horrors of rain

Africa who feeds and starves her millions while raped by the wanderers

The Africa of great sculptured hair like frosted cake or the drippings inside moist caves

Africa of the blossoming bushes of Afros, of cornrows and braids and beads and smooth pates shining like breadfruit in the sun

Africa, where I've never been, where I will never go, though Africa is nestled in my poems

Africa who sits still & we continue to wander even further from Her