April 20, 2010

Reading by the Carol Ann Donahue Poet, April 15

This is the annual big poetry event at Russell Sage College in Troy, NY & this year's poet was Kim Addonizio. The reading was held at the College's Bush Memorial with the introductions by David Salomon from the English Department.

Addonizio began with some poems from her collection What is This Thing Called Love, first with a couple of sonnets with jazz titles, "Stolen Moments" & "So What." She, at a least as an "I," is a big presence in her poems, prompting her to comment ambivalently at one point on some critics classifying her as a "confessional" poet, to which she gave the lie in "Scary Movies" in which she said she "lied for the sake of the poem" -- don't we all? "Confessional poet" is one of those stadium-sized pigeon holes in which you find not only Anne Sexton & Robert Lowell but Allen Ginsberg & perhaps ever Walt Whitman.

I groaned when she said she was going to read a dying cat poem remembering many such painful moments from past poetry readings, but she endeared herself to me by by saying she wrote it because someone told her not to write it. You know, as far dead cat poems go -- in fact as far as any cat poem goes -- it wasn't bad.

The rest of her reading was 6 or 7 poems from the new book Lucifer at the Starlight. She ended playing blues harmonica, singing along with a blues poem for Robert Johnson, & other old blues tunes. It was a lot fun, dead cats & all.

This is not a good venue for poetry: the amplified sound gets muddy in the cavernous ceiling & the poet is hidden behind a wrap-around pulpit like a sea captain's wheelhouse; moreover, the attendees were scattered throughout the big space, but in a smaller venue would have seemed crowded.

No comments: