I was privileged to read at this hotspot of NYC poetry in the 4th Sunday poetry slot, with open mic, hosted by George Wallace. Once before, a number of years ago, the 3 Guys from Albany had performed on this stage. I was just a few blocks from where I once lived many years ago, & if memory serves me right, this space was some sort of industrial supply store. Where have the bums gone?
Susan Maurer was the first feature, reading from her new book Perfect Dark, available online from ungovernable press. Her topics ranged across the globe, from swan Boats in Boston, to being on Amtrak, to "Mozambique," to a zinc mine in New Jersey with day-glo rocks, to hanging out "With the Unbearables." It was refreshing to hear her say about one poem that she wasn't sure what it meant.
I paid tribute to my NYC past with "Matins & Lauds" from Meditations of a Survivor (A.P.D., 1991), then read last year's "The Cardinal." I was thrilled to have some of my children there & so read for them "Jack Sketching" & "To Madeleine" (thanks, kids). I returned to Albany with "The Wall." The dreaded audience-particiption piece was "Labels & Names" & I ended with "Peace Marchers at the Viet Nam Memorial."
I had seen Linda Lerner, the third featured poet, read a while back at the Colony Cafe in Woodstock. Her poems are generally short, urban, often taking down those stuck on themselves, like professors lecturing on the blues, or performance poets, or "Mr. avant-garde Comes to a Brooklyn Diner." Her city images came through best in "The City Feeds Me Hungry," or the ordinary day of 9/11 in "The Scream," & "Riding on Amtrak to NYC from Philadelphia."
I didn't see a sign-up sheet, George just scanned the audience for the poets & asked them if they wanted to read. As a result, I'm not sure I got all the names correct (& sometimes George didn't say the last names), so feel free to send me any corrections if necessary & I'll make them as I get them. After a poem describing the Lower East Side, Miriam Stanley had a cluster of love/sex poems, including sex in a pool & in Central Park. Loren O'Brien considered the dilemma of going "Back to Him." Patricia Carragon read poems on a tapestry, & about subways among others, later traded books (Journey to the Center of My Mind, Rogue Scholars Press).
Roxanne Hoffman's poems fluttered around birds, "A Red Feather Song" & "Space as Poor Sparrows" in Autumn. Andrea wondered "Are You Getting this All Down?" as broccoli & her self disappeared in her poem. Russ contrasted Vermont ("Green Mountain Meditation" on the elections) with NYC & Cornell West. Then the great thrill of seeing our Albany friend Nicole Peyrafitte (now living in Bay Ridge) come to the stage to sing, just like she was back at Justin's on Lark St.
What a great day -- friends & family in the audience, new poetry friends, some even eager to come to the mytho-poetic land of Albany, who would've thunk? As I was leaving, the next poetry act was setting up, none other than Anne Waldman, but I was tired & hungry & we had to leave. Maybe one can rent a room over the Club & just live there?