No rain & a lovely night at the Social Justice Center, with a great array of poets, local, regional & national. I started off invoking the muse of Paul Celan, from the translations done by Pierre Joris.
The first 2 open mic poets are like a variation on a name, the first with the slightly longer name, Alan Casline; he is a student of local history, flora & fauna, & tonight read a short piece on Indian wars in the time of the Dutch settlers. Then Alan Catlin who is a student of a different style of local history, flora & fauna, that of the urban streets of Albany & Schenectady, read a poem about the goings-on on his street, "202". Up from Saugerties, "Normal" told a true story of avoiding the "green buses" of the military in 1963. Ed Rinaldi's short poem was about a summer insect about to bite. Thomas Brinson says he writes "poemoirs," & read an example, "Storm King Art Center." Don Levy was worried that "The Poets Are Swearing, The Poets Are Swearing" saying the "s" word, the "a" word, the "f" word. W.D. Clarke's comical ballad "The Camp" was about a youthful job that brought him to a nudist camp -- for "Seniors."
Tonight's featured poet, Dominick Rizzo, read selections from his book, The Spiral Staricase of My Life, mostly short poems, about love, his struggle with depression, even about addicted rock stars, & an alcoholic take on the nursery rhyme "Jack & Jill." He also read a number of new poems, including "I'm At War With Myself," "Don't Beat Yourself Up," "The Drunken Satire," & "Purple Roses." At one time poets would write their poems, send them around to magazines & literary journals & try them out at open mics, sometimes for years, before they gathered their best work together in a book-length collection or chapbook. Now, with the creation of the "print-on-demand" industry, some new poets are rushing their poems into print, sometimes cramming as many as they can into a no-longer-thin book of poems. Of course, this is one way for a writer to get his or her work out there to a wider audience. The downside is that much of the work goes untried, either in workshops, open mics, or the poetry journal marketplace, not having time to settle or age, like one does with wine, fine whiskey, or cheese.
After the break I read "Cleanse this City" to commemorate the first test of the atomic bomb on July 16, 1945. A new voice & face, Ed Fennell, read about Time, "The Weaver." Joe Krausman read "a poem in regress," an older poem being re-worked, "The Blaster." Therese Broderick's Blog documents her influences & inspirations of her poems, including "July" that she read tonight. Moses Kash III paid tribute to Michael Jackson in his prose poem "Another Brother Moses Across the Red Sea."
The poet who lives closest, Sylvia Barnard, re-did her poem written at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA, "Portrait by Ammi Phillips," with copies provided by a berserk printer. LisaAnn LoBasso, on a poetry tour from Bakersfield, CA, lives farthest from the Social Justice Center, passing through town, read "Playing Peace" about trying to avoid the news of war, from her book Oleander Milkshake. Julie Lomoe read about her bi-polar diagnosis, intertwining memories with the DSM-IV. Jan Tramontano was back with a short poem for the end, "New World Order," inspired by her youngest grandson.
Poets from near & far. Third Thursdays at 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY, 7:30 start, a modest $3.00 donation, if you've got it.