Back when I was using a film camera, I would sometimes miss shots at a reading if I forgot to bring an extra roll of film, or if there was a malfunction loading the film in a dark bar. It can happen with a digital camera too, if you forget, as I did this night, to put the memory card back in the camera before you head out for a reading. Fortunately the person with "the second largest collection of photos of unknown poets," Kristen Day, was in the house & graciously shared here her shot of Dan Nester, the night's featured poet. Thank you, Kristen.
Dan Nester fit in perfectly with the venue, many of his poems with pop culture references & based on memories of growing up. His pop culture pieces included "Poem About 'Happy Days' Ending with a Line from Catullus" (& the poet as Fonzi), "Chicago 37" (like the band's albums), "Two Lies & a Truth" beginning with quotes from Paul Harvey, "Mick Jagger is Not Afraid & Neither Should You Be" (a title suggested by a friend), & "Vision: Jane Wyman in 'The Lost Weekend'" which was an anxiety dream poem of losing his wife. There was also the hilarious "Notes Towards the Definition of the Inappropriate" which was based on news stories of people doing, well, the "inappropriate." He also mines his experience growing up in South Jersey in many of his poems; tonight, he shared one about the Latin Casino in Cherry Hill, & ended with another about his South Jersey Russian neighbors, "Lines About My Neighbors Ending with a Proverb." His poems were touching, profound, silly, &, above all, amusing -- after all, if art does not amuse & give pleasure, why bother? We're glad to have Nester here.
Our host, Don Levy, passed the hat, gossiped, then continued on with an open mic. Marilyn Day remembered to bring poems this time & shared 2, "My Hometown" about Albany (from a workshop held at the conference of the International Women's Writing Guild), & the wonderful list of "Remembered Kisses." I have been revisiting my 1995 chapbook Ireland & read from that a revised "The Fairy Circle," then a short Irish-inspired piece not in the chapbook, "Sheila-na-gig."
Bob Sharkey, not surprisingly, stayed on the Irish theme with a NYC poem by an Irish poet Andrew Elliot, "Robot Revisiting", then read "To Get His Breakfast" based on a character from James Joyce's Ulysses. Kristen Day read a new poem about the common problem of the last thin mint, "No One Will Eat the Last Cookie," then the wonderful poem about her grandmother, "Becoming Emma Jane."
Shannon Shoemaker had a brand-new "Poem for the Open Mic," an energetic rant, in slam style, only shorter. Then described the hounds chasing her in "Artemis, or Spying on My Muse." R.M. Engelhardt was back with a piece done up like an ad for Rent-a-Beatnik (the 1959 project of Fred McDarrah) in his deep radio voice. Then leaping ahead to the 1990s he read his tribute to the QE2 poetry scene, "In this Place of Sound & Light."
Finally, our host, Don Levy, outed queer cartoon characters with "I Want to Be Your Bikini Bottom" (which I think I once said to Goldie Hawn). It was a warm & friendly night, despite the outside temperature & the cold, hard moon.
Every 2nd Wednesday, Gay & Lesbian Community Center, in Albany NY.