Our host, Carol Graser, started us off with May Swenson's "The Exchange." The good night continued on, with some of the regulars, new voices, dancers, & a wonderful feature.
George M. Fisher started off the open mic with a couple of his characteristic narratives built on memories, one about the drowning of a childhood friend, the other about being stationed in "Okinawa" in the Air Force (where Carol also spent some time as a child). Todd Fabozzi read from his new book, Crossroads, "Hanging Out" & "Rush Hour."
Mary Kathryn Jablonski introduced "H1N1" as "an uncharacteristically funny poem" in which she wryly compared (& combined) the "duck & cover" exercises of her youth with the precautions of the flu epidemics. Nancy Denofio read a long family narrative that took place in 1934, "The Death of John the Fruit Man."
The Young Performers' Creative Dance Company was back, this time with a 2-part presentation -- first a brief dance to a student's poem, "Pain," accompanied by guitar; the 2 dancers wore black, with white gloves & a white ribbon that glowed under a black night, with the central figure wearing an upside-down mask. The audience was asked to write a line or 2 in response to the poem, then, after the break, the dancers were back to perform to the collaborative poem read by Lilly Loveday.
Meg Kearney, Director of the Solstice Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program at Pine Manor College in Chestnut Hill, MA, and Director of Pine Manor’s Solstice Summer Writers Conference, began with a poem by a 4th grade poet, Cameron Penny -- good to give voice to those who aren't heard. From her first collection of poetry, An Unkindness of Ravens, (BOA Editions Ltd., 2001) she read her "Creed". The rest of her reading was from the just released Home By Now (Four Way Books, 2009). She began with "Carnal" & it's unsentimental animal images, which I found strangely similar to "First Blow Job" ("pure metaphor" she says). The politics of a "post 9/11" world were confronted at different levels with "Septemer 12, 2001: View of Downtown Manhattan From My Bedroom Window," "In the Days of Code Orange" (preferring "a code the color of wine" yes, yes), to "Home Now," that brought in New Hampshire, that was connected again in "New Hampshire, Late Winter II (2007)." Even the self-referential "George Says Stop Writing About Yourself" included a brief image of the WTC towers. She also read "On Learning that Henry Ford was an Anti-Semite," & concluded with the longer narrative, "So this Grasshopper Walks into a Bar." Which reminds me of a joke ...
Carol Graser continued the open mic reading "Beneath the Thick News," combining the war & images of home, the kids, & then "The Black Cat" who was hit by a car. Margot Lynch is a poet of the 2nd person, her "On the Edge" was free flow of her thoughts on art, the ocean, herself. Alan Casline read a couple of choruses of his homages to Kerouac's Mexico City Blues. W.D. Clarke's ballad was a Scottish tale of "Otis' Teeth."
Alan Catlin's "Guernica" was a political metaphor & a dangerous bar, & his other bar poem, "New Years Eve Bash" was a ghost tale ripped from the pages of the newspaper. James read 2 short pastoral poems from strolls in his beloved Columbia County, "Duet" & "Twilight Stroll." I think Jill Wickham's 2 poems were related, though I don't recall her saying so, "Hemorrhage" dealt with her mother & father & a stroke, while her second poem was titled "At the Onset of Hibernation the Bees Begin to Speak". Barbara Garro paid homage to the full Moon with a poem to Kali as the Divine Mother, then "Poet," her blurb.
Carolee Sherwood left her poems home (or in the car, or the dog ate them) so she read "poem pieces" from workshop exercises from her journal. I read "My Sather Gate Illumination" from this summer's visit to Berkeley, CA. Bob Sharkey's poem, "And She Never Left Us a Farthing" was about the folks in a small town. This was the first time for Mark Munser who read us his Cowboy poetry, with its rhymes, "Bronco's Life" about being reborn as a (riderless) bronco, then one about escaping from a "Honky Tonk Mama." Thus the variety & the beauty of open mics.
Check it out on the first Wednesday of each month at the historic Caffe Lena, on Phila St. in Saratoga Springs, NY.