The streets of Saratoga Springs were still crowded with the horsey crowd, so I opted to pay to park in the otherwise free lot -- somebody had taken my secret parking spot. Carol Graser, perhaps the shortest poetry open mic host, & certainly one of the most upbeat, began with a poem by Adrienne Rich. In addition to Rich's poetry, poets should read her essays in What Is Found There.
The first open mic poet was Carol Kenyon, who put out illustrations for her poem & read a saga of bands playing at SPAC in "A Saratoga Tale." Mary Melvyn's "The Role of Her Life" was a sad poem about a delusional woman in CVS with her faux baby. Mary Kathryn Jablonski read another of her series of poems on the "seas" on the Moon, this one, for 2 men she had loved, "Mare Undarum," literally sea of waves, forthcoming in The Healing Muse. Todd Fabozzi read "Vigilantes" (on immigration) & "Mutants" (effects of pollution) from his book Umbrageous Embers.
I don't recall seeing Billy Neary before, so he was the first of a series of tonight's "Caffè Lena virgins;" he read "My Other Dream," & longed for Ireland in "Sinn Fein." Sue Jefts has read here many times, meditated on "Morning," & a poem about a painting of snow dragons in the Rubin Museum of Art in NYC (a place I highly recommend -- dedicated to the art of the Himalayas).
Georganna Millman had just read at my third Thursday open mic in Albany, but I enjoy her work, plus I wanted to hear the entertaining array of local poets that usually show up here at Caffè Lena. She read a selection of poems from her new chapbook, Formulary (Astounding Beauty Ruffian Press, Stuart, Virginia), "The Happy Drawer" bringing out squeals of delight from her fans. She included some other pharmacy poems not in the book, & others, such as a "rare track poem," "Her Royal Nibs," & her green heron poems, "Seduction" & "Marriage." She has a pleasant, soothing voice that carries her simply-stated, well-crafted poems well.
After the break, our host, Carol Graser was back with one of her own poems, wondering who to blame untitled in 14 lines. The night's stand-up comic was Austin Halpern-Graser; he was also named the "best clapper." George Fisher's poems dealt with kids from a city shelter ("Turtle Hunters") & about an AIDS patient ("Waiting to Die"), but his intros seemed longer than the poems. Erica Shumacher, another new voice for me, read "Wind Chimes" & a haiku, brief & memorable. Barbara Garro was "hot & cold" with a poem about a hot night, "Soul's Night" (but what was Grendal's mother doing in there?) & "Cooled Love."
Fay Bell was another of tonight's poetry "virgins", reading a series of very short poems she called "Olivers," then brought down the house with a hilarious counter-version of Cinderella, "Everafter." Carolee Sherwood apparently has been getting out to readings, & read an exploration on the word "Forage" that included poetry monsters & dreams, then more dreams in "Origami." The title of Josh McIntyre's "The Bar at the Heartbreak Hotel" says it all, & "Radio" was about the songs you sometimes hear.
I read 2 new pieces, the wistful "Falling Asleep in Patchouli," & the Mingus-insprired bunny poem "Respect." Thérèse Broderick was there with her poetry salon friends & read "Permit" about teaching her daughter to drive, & the meditation on the night's lights over the Grand Canyon, "But For." Ryan Crotty is a young actor who likes to do OPP (other people's poetry), tonight the cannibal story of "The Rhyme of the Nancy Bell." W.D. Clarke followed with his own ballads, the anti-war "The Amputees," & "The Thunderbird" about a gambling gold miner out West.
Even the professors show up at Carol's open mic -- Jay Rogoff read about his grandson's taste in funky music, then his wife & Mozart's Così fan tutte, "All the Same." James Schlett spends a lot of time at ponds, this one in Chatham, "Road to the Interior." Yan Redman, clearly the shortest poet tonight, was amazed to be on stage & read us one of my favorite poems, "The Jabborwocky." Then Effie Redman (a brother & sister tag-team?) read her poem about about the cat in her lap.
Sally Rhoades took us to "The Wigwam," a warm place of love & hope with the family, then to hearing the sea on "Cypress Time." This was also Malcolm Willison's first time reading at Caffè Lena & he got us driving to the opera with "To Orphée at Glimmer Glass" then "After the Movie" with a hurricane coming to New Orleans. Nancy Muldoon was scribbling "Lipstick & Potato Chips" during the reading, bringing us back to scenes of Saratoga Springs, a fitting end to the night.
Check it out every 1st Wednesday on Phila St. in Saratoga Springs, NY, still happening even when the horsey set leaves (but don't expect to see Mary Lou Whitney there).