The place filled up quickly with our featured poet(s) & a good-sized crowd of regulars until there was standing-room-only all around the room. To begin I invoked the Muse of Franklin Rosemont, who had died recently at the age of 65, with a reading of his poem "Postscript to Mysterioso."
If Alan Catlin was going to be a rock group, he said, he would be the "Electric Prunes", then read from his Greatest Hits "The Working Late Man in a Grey Suit Suit." Don Levy was signed up early, got up off the floor where he was sitting & read "Can I Now Finally Dance on the Taxi?" about the movie "Fame." Kristen Day read her brief poem "Flawed Fantasy". Jan Tramontano read her "Cruel April", an older poet's poem.
Joe Krausman looked for his carpe diem poem in the wrong pocket, then found it, "Only One to a Customer."
Richard (The Master of Poetic Hysteria) Cowles made the trip down for the WordFest (tonight was the official unofficial start of WordFest) & did "An Old Scratched Blemished Poem" like an old warped vinyl record (in the picture to the right). W. D. Clarke read a true tale about an area man, "Gary Evans."
For the second year in a row my April (National Poetry Month?) feature were the students from Daniel Nester's class on "The Oral Presentation of Literature" at the College of St. Rose. Collectively they went by the name "The Solid Gold McCrakens" & performed in 5 groups, with 3 solo performers. Many, if not most, were folks who don't usually go to poetry open mics but you'd never know it from the stellar performances they gave tonight. The first group, The Footlongs (Leora Flax, Britney Heins, Stephanie Toniolo, & John Urbanski) performed "Riding the Subway," deconstructing & debating the Subway ads -- & lucky John got the sandwich. Bangin' Brunettes (Andrea DeWitt, Maria Furforo, Lauren Ravesz & Carolyn Walsh) did a found poem, "Undefined Love," composed of responses to the question "what does love mean to you?" posed to elementary age children, teenage girls, older women & young men -- & now we know, or do we?
Jungle Fever (Shaughnessy Brocker, Caitlin Mandy, Chelsea Roullier, & Jessica Yakel) helped us finally find out "What is a Poem Anyway?" (or, as they said, "... is there a point to the fucking thing?"); they left their crumpled copies of the piece behind so it has now been added to "the archives". The first of the solo performers, Leora Flax, read a short, ironic piece, "The Salad Dressing of my Days." Emily Perez's "Where the Wild Things Are" begins with the story book, ends with crying. "Never Delmar" was Maria Walsh's take on today's suburbia (hey, I grew up there), & how that viewpoint can change.
Hate Club for Hypocrites (Elizabeth Knapp, Justin McCormack, Emily Perez) did "Involuntary Narcissistic Rage" so well you would think they had it. The duo of Adrianna Gaeta & Ann M. Leghorn-McCracken as Arc Flash & Shock Hazard sent "A Letter to Our Fans," a funny ad for Lesbians & an appeal to "fix those homophobic ways." After that we all needed a break.
When we came back, I read my Chicago/May Day/Haymarket Massacre poem, "Crane Alley." Dan Nester was not the only "professor" who brought students tonight; Sue Oringel turned up with 2 of her students from HVCC. Elaundress Ballard responded to Leroi Jones' poem "Air." Deneque Williams' "I Remember" was about a best friend dying in a hospital. Sue Oringel's blue poem included food, referenced Garcia Lorca, from a line she woke with one morning.
The Storm was back again this month with her piece "I Am a Woman" ("... takes a sip from these beautiful brown lips..."). Daniel (the Mad Professor) Nester (to wild cheers from his class) read from his book How to Be Inappropriate from his own inappropriate acts from the '90s. Bob Sharkey's descriptive words were about the characters around the City Arms Hotel. Alan Casline's work are short, imagistic & get lost in his book, until he found it, "Viewing Tranquility." The "goddess" of WomanWords, Marilyn Day, read her real sestina, "Paint Boxes & Whores" on a painting by 17th Century painter Artemisia Gentileschi.
Bless had no idea what he was about to do, then read what he wrote "about nothing," when he sat down to write for the wrong reasons, a performance everyone loved. Moses Kash III gave me a copy of his piece, "Fear It Self," written at 4 o'clock in the morning recently. Bringing us back to his early days as a poet in the 1980s, R.M. Engelhardt, read "What's Left of My Degeneration" (you can find it on his Face Book site). Sally Rhoades was at the latest Presidential inauguration & wrote a poem beginning "America woke up last night..."
Check out my Flickr site for pictures of each of tonight's featured poets, "The Solid Gold McCrakens". & find us here at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY on the third Thursday of each month.