April 22, 2010

Third Thursday Poetry Night, April 15

The "official un-official start of Albany WordFest." In honor of our featured poet, Paul Pines, our muse for the night was Paul Blackburn (1926 - 1971); I read one of his poems from the 1974 issue of Sixpack, the Paul Blackburn Issue, which also included Paul Pines' poem, "Adios Pablo."

Alan Catlin, as he frequently does, started us off, & tonight with an "older" poem, "Death in Venice," another grim/funny bar story. Bob Sharkey's poem was about seeing the Sun Ra Arkestra up a the Lake George Jazz Weekend. Which was a good segue to jazz-commentator & musician, Jason Crane, who read "Amputee," about not playing his sax. Just back from New Mexico, Alan Casline read a poem/journal entry he wrote in Santa Fe. "Delightful" Don Levy read a how-I-spent-my-Easter poem, "Bloody Marys & Drag Queens."

When I moved into the East Village of NYC in the mid-1970's from my interim post-divorce crash pad in Staten Island, my local bar quickly became The Tin Palace at the corner of Bowery (when it was still "the Bowery") & 2nd Street. It was a jazz joint, in glaring contrast to CBGB's just half a block away, with the occasional poetry reading on Saturday afternoons. I definitely recall seeing read Kathy Acker, Susan Sherman & Kenneth Koch, & for a while Eileen Myles bused tables. The owner, when I first got there, was Paul Pines, our featured poet. Paul eventually moved to Glens Falls & one of his current projects is running the Lake George Jazz Weekend in September. He read a selection of his poems from his most recent book, Last Call at the Tin Palace (Marsh Hawk Press, 2009). He began with the rich, incantatory "Bread," then on to some Tin Palace poems. I remember seeing the drummer Jimmy Lovelace hanging out there ("Regarding the Percussionist") & an array of "Bass Players" to which Paul paid homage, & Hilton Ruiz ("Art of Memory"). Of course "Roaches" are a part of any bar experience, & Paul dedicated his poem "Bar Time" (about other places in the East Village I remember) to fellow "brother of the stick" Alan Catlin. He ended with the recent poem, "Hello from Nola," about being in New Orleans for Mardi Gras dressed as Jesus (or Moses, or Bacchus, etc.). Who would have thought back in 1976 I'd be here in Albany introducing Paul Pines at a poetry reading in the Social Justice Center -- longevity has its values.

After the break I read my poem "At McSorley's" remembering seeing Paul Blackburn there. "The Over-booked" (as we joked) Sylvia Barnard read another "show & tell" piece, passing around copies of a webpage from The Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibit of the Belles Heures of Jean de France, a poem about the calendar from that manuscript. W.D. Clarke read a piece about Joyce "Kilmer's Cross" that the poet/soldier was wearing when he was killed in World War I, still carried by the Commanders of his Regiment, an amazing story. Tedi Toca was the first poet to read at the Third Thursday poetry series when I started it back at Cafe Web in December 1997, but has been hiding out until tonight when she read "I Want to Do it Dressed Like a Pirate." Perhaps a greater pleasure than having a new poet read for the first time at the open mic is for that poet to come back & read again, as was the case with our last poet of the night, Christine Hollister, who read her recent poem "The Idiom of Pride."

Another great night at the Social Justice Center, every Third Thursday, 7:30 PM, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY


Jason Crane said...

I love that "Delightful Don Levy" is catching on. He's the Gorgeous George of the Albany Poetry Scene. Paul Pines rocked the house -- a GREAT night of poetry.

And I thought Christine Hollister's poem showed a lot of growth and clever wordplay.

Anonymous said...

I like that I'm the "Gorges Gerorge of the Albany Poetry Scene"! Thanks, Jason! And Paul Pines was a great feature. Uncle don