Our host, Carol Graser, started off the night with a poem by a former featured poet here at Caffè Lena, Lyn Lifshin, then introduced the first open mic poet, Alan Catlin. He said he always feel like he's referencing Bob Dylan when her reads here, so decided to read one of his Dylan inspired poems, "So When He calls You Now You Can't Refuse;" his second was about the New Yorker writer & his long writer's block, "Joseph Mitchell's Silence." Margaret Bryant is a regular here & jumped right in with "Mother's Bridal Bouquet," then, as she said "a lighter poem" "Light."
Todd Fabozzi read 2 poems from his first book, Umbrageous Embers, "Round Pegs in Square Holes" for poets & revolutionaries, & "The Levee of Indifference." Gordon Hayman's "The Visit" was simple & gentle, while his humorous "Commercial Conscripts" was written from the point of few of one of those silly wind sock characters used to attract folks to stores.
Glenn Witecki did his poem from memory in rhyme about a campfire. George Drew's first poem was a meditative "The Thing About Pigs;" he dedicated "The Young Poet With a New Age Name" (the title says it all) to the night's featured poet, Jared Smith & his wife Deborah.
After the break W.D. Clarke read an anti-war/Mother's day poem, "For His Mum." Whenever I hear the name of Austen Halpern-Graser I expect to see a tall fellow with a moustache & a British accent -- not quite yet -- but he is the resident stand-up comic & tonight he read us a couple of Aesop's Fables. Dan Stalter started out here at Caffe Lena as a young volunteer who would get up & read from his notebooks; he & his craft have matured, as the 2 intense pieces he read tonight ("Here Lies a Broken Creature" & an untitled piece using a car wreck as the metaphor) attested.
I once read that "every city on a river has a Front St." & Nancy Denofio's long historical poem, "Front St.," was just that: about a city (Schenectady) on a river. One problem of the Caffe Lena stage is that the lighting is set for the audience to see the performers (who characteristically are musicians), not for poets to see their texts while performing; most poets work around it in one way or another. Tonight Barbara Garro borrowed a small flashlight from Thérèse to read 2 poems from a new book, "Christos" & "Holy Heritage."
Carolee Sherwood's first poem was written during April while doing a-poem-a-day "One Evening After A Whole Lot of Same" in fractured syntax, while her second poem was an untitled picture of a day in a rain. It was a nice place to be, next, & I began with the poem I wrote yesterday, "44,000 (May 4, 2010)" & 1 of the Buddhist haikus from my chapbook, boundless abodes of Albany (Benevolent Bird Press).
Thérèse Broderick also used her flashlight & also read a poem from her April assignment, "Decline & Fall" combining the quotidian with the epochal, then "For My Husband" on giving & taking. Jill Wickham was inspired by grabbing a knife while doing the dishes, more everyday elevated to Art, & "Urban Legend" is a poem from a "wordle" (I never heard of it either!). Steve Pillar's poems were rhymes about death, "On the Other Side" & "A Part of Everything."
Ellen Finn has been reading here pretty regularly, & has appeared poem-less in Albany on occasion; both her poems were based on children's movies, "Like Shrek" & "Summer Stuck Between Forward & Backward," fine work from a unique point of view & unusual sources of inspiration. Rob Faivre read "Lost the Halo" from Charles Baudelaire, in translation.
Come & bring a poem on the first Wednesday of each month to Caffe Lena on Phila St. in Saratoga Springs.