May 14, 2009

Poets Speak Loud!, April 27

AlbanyPoets vice president, Mary Panza, managed to frighten off some dinner guests this typically raucous night, but then that's what she does; the rest of us stayed.

I started off for no particular reason with an old poem, "Sylvia Plath Slept Here," then the story of "Albany, Vermont." Then a virgin poet, Alan Siegel, with a cluster of "spiritual poems," as he called them, actually religious pieces which I'm sure he felt out of place with as the night wore on in its typical, unpredictable fashion.

Sylvia Barnard read her poem "Easter" that she had read as the last poet in this year's Albany WordFest, at 6:30 AM. R.M. Engelhardt's "Nocturne for Mrs. Mueller" was unique in that it was actually about someone other than himself, not about him pining over some honey, or pondering "god," or a philosophical meandering about all the emptiness around him. Then he returned to his favorite themes with "Another Bad Poem ..." (that was the title, not my description).

Slam star Dan Stalter was the night's featured poet, showcasing his new chapbook, Pull the Trigger and Drive, a flip-book with Sean Gallagher's a very neat monster (The Intangible Collective), with "Rebirth," "Face Down," & "White Flag." Also, "Penis," which is more about writing bad poetry, & his version of John McCain's concession speech, "No We Can't." Overall, lots of masturbation & coming down on Religion with both feet (maybe Alan Siegel should've waited before he signed up).

Todd Fabozzi was up with 2 pieces from his book Umbrageous Embers, "The Spirit to Suffer" & "America Is." Liliana Hernandez is a new voice with "Crooked Cops" in Oakland (like everywhere) & the sexy "Kissing a Girl" -- more, more. William Eng shows up at the Lark Tavern fairly regularly, but nowhere else (except his own apartment I guess), read a narrative of the park, "Summer Burn" & something he said he was finishing on stage, "Stop Watch."

Another new face/voice William Purcell did 2 pieces from his notebook, one on consumerism, the other written after 9/11/01, "Red White & Blue." Ah Amanda Rose, also read from a notebook, "Let's Pretend" then the excoriating "3 Minute Man" (it's not about me!).

Adding to tonight's themes Mets fan Dominick Rizzo did a poem he described as "totally different", about sperm experiencing anal sex, then one about being pissed off at his favorite team. Was there a connection here? Jonathan Jones is growing out of his new-kid status, has poems with spiritual themes set in the real world, the rhyming "Mustard Seed" & his tattoo show-&-tell, "Heavenly Folk." I expect you'll see him featured soon out & about.

The final poet Sue Cerniglia is a frequent member of the audience, rarely reads, but is an avid mandolin & string player who has just returned from a tour of Europe during which she & other musicians (including local Deb Cavanaugh) played at former Nazi prison camps, emulating the recitals that inmates would often have to play; her poem "The Sentiment in My Heart" was based on that experience.

Ah, the great experience of the expressions of the human heart that poetry open mics can, & often do, epitomize -- we all applauded, cringed, smiled & went to the bathroom. It beats the alternative.

Most last Mondays of the month (not May, often not December), at Tess' Lark Tavern on Madison Ave. in Albany -- you can find it.