Our host, Carol Graser, said this was the biggest crowd they have had for the open mic at Caffe Lena -- she should know, she's been hosting the poetry open mic at this legendary folk music venue since about 2003. All I know is I got a cramp in my hand taking all the notes. It was the usual great mix of local & regional poets, with a few comedy acts (including by one of the featured poets) thrown in. Austin Halperin-Graser's routine on being home-schooled was actually pretty scary, making me think how crazy it would have been to have my parents home-school me -- yikes!
The featured poets were LisaAnn LoBasso (from California) on an early stop in her "Unibrow Tour" of the Northeast, & Tim Mason who seems to invade folk venues by combining poetry & comedy monologues for the poetry-challenged. LisaAnn LoBasso read selections from her two books, In the Swollen & Oleander Milkshake, including "Their Dissapation," the sound-poem "Melt," "My Lost Uncle," "For Micca & Her Photograph in her House," the chilling "For a Sick Child," "Ojai Deliverance," "Sugar Loaf," ending with a couple love poems, "Another Love Poem" & the recently written "Sugar Coating." A performance without trying to be a "performance."
Tim Mason did most of his poems from memory, which sometimes made it difficult to know when he was doing a "bit" or an introduction or whatever, like his routine about messing with a Texan's hat (didn't I just hear that on a country station?). I thought that his most effective work were those that sprang out of his experience, such as hiking a desert plateau, though even those were prone to a breathless hippy philosophy. In general his best work was when he was not trying to be a stand-up comic.
Among the open mic performers were Mimi Moriarty & Frank Desiderio (who had been featured here last year) doing a short set of their "companion poems," on poetry readings & on the attic. There was also a contingent from the Voorheesville Every Other Thursday Night Poets, Mike Burke (read from his new chapbook, Sonnets for a Summer Dog from Benevolent Bird Press), Dennis Sullivan, Tom Corrado, "Obeeduid," & Alan Casline. I read my tribute to last year's CT Beat Festival, for LisaAnn who had been there too.
Some of the regulars (more or less) included Liam, Mary Melvin with a memoir of "The Backyard Oak," George Fisher, Mary Kathryn Jablonski (with a new poem, "Kabuki"), Margot Malia Lynch, Yvette Brown (with a funny piece on voicemail), Barbara Garro, & W.D. Clarke (who also had a cowboy hat poem).
Georganna Millman was there with 2 poems not in her new book. Carol Graser did another of her artful political sestinas. Other poets included Carol Kergan, Salik, Patsy Berton (one of Carol's students hadn't listened to the 2 poem/2 pages limit), another student Brandon (who did follow the rules), Anna Stocker, Genevieve Legacy (whose self-portrait in a list of her things was good until it didn't stop), Rachel Ikins reading from her Blackberry, Todd Fabozzi from his book, Glenn with nature poems, Julie Barton, the always charming James Schlett, Maria Acosta reading Sonia Sanchez, Nancy Denofio at her mother's grave, Joe on life & death, & Margaret Bryant.
A great night out of the rain, & fun as always. & always the 1st Monday of each month. Check out the website for complete information.