July 14, 2009

Fernwood Restaurant, June 26 (Part 2)

So after the Faxon Library reading we (many of us) headed over to the Fernwood Restaurant nearby for even more poetry -- & some beer & food. Not sure what the dinner patrons thought of a poetry reading breaking out in the middle of a Friday night. The reading host was Mike Walker who opened up the night with a lush memory love poem. There were 4 featured poets to be followed by an open mic.

Wendy Battin read 2 poems, "Christine Falls on the Road to Paradise," & "Aubade," a fascinating book of hours, poems written about a night/early AM of insomnia, a long piece composed of short segments -- something worth revisiting.

"Sympetalous" tried out his Michael Jackson piece last night & reprised it tonight, with revisions. I'm not sure how many poems he read since they were each performed in the same way with the same flowing gestures & with the same performance accent & intonation, as well as written in the same way, each an unrelenting word stream. My notes do say "Roy Obison" so that was in there somewhere -- you just had to go with the flow.

During a brief break, Tom Nicotera, fresh from hosting down the street at the Faxon Library, serenaded us with his harmonica.

Elizabeth Thomas, the old-school slam poet, showed us how to combine good poems with an emphatic but not overdone performance. She included the poem "Lies My Mother Told Me" that had been read on radio by Garrison Keilor, "Revelation" (on a "God" tee-shirt), as well as "Celestial" for her husband & another poem as a tribute to poet Faith Vicinanza.

Melissa Emma was the least experienced of the poets reading tonight & did a short set with poems about a dead fox, sex in a slow, hot August, & a piece, "Courage," that she said she wasn't sure what it was. She just needs some more time at open mics to practice her readings & study the good & the bad of the other poets.

Speaking of open mics, I had to slip out before this one got started (it had been a long, double-header night), so you'll have to find out about it someplace else (or not).

On occasion at readings I will see a poet who, while another poet is reading, will be shuffling through her or his poems, preparing for their reading. It can be very annoying. Tonight, this sin was multiplied. Not only was one poet going through her folder of poems, but another was (silently) rehearsing his reading, complete with obvious (& documented) hand gestures & mouthing of the words -- and they were both at the same table, right upfront. I can only cringe at what the poet who was performing saw & thought. It was just plain & simple rude. If they needed to "warm-up," they should step out of the room or at least move to some inconspicuous back corner. Featured poets whose names appear in the programs have had plenty of time to prepare for their readings at home, & need to give the other poets who are reading the same level of attention they, I'm sure, are looking forward to for themselves.

Unfortunately, that was the last of the festival readings I could get to & had to head back home early next morning. But check out the Riverwood Poetry Festival website & when you see the notice about next year's festival (I hope there will be a next year), make your plans & go. These folks did a great job.