May 6, 2010

United for Thatcher, April 24

AlbanyPoets had a slot in this multi-event benefit to inspire folks to put pressure on the politicos to keep our State Parks open. The event was held at Proctor's Theater in Schenectady, NY in the the vast public area adjacent to the theater where they have the expensive Broadway shows. There were were bands playing in the performance area at the back, tabling by environmental groups & the poetry stage was set up near the State St. door across from the Muddy Cup. Thom Francis from AlbanyPoets was our host & MC.

Carol Graser was spending a busy weekend in the Albany area & began with a poem I don't think I've heard from her, "Poetry Leaves the Water" (like Venus from the sea; other poems included labor poems "Plastic Factory" & "When Workers Decide Union," the love poem "Dark Language," & 3 from her book, The Wild Twist of Their Stems (Foothills Publishing), including one of my favorites, "Tribe."

A.C. Everson quoted from "Park & Pond" by Ralph Waldo Emerson, then did a series of her short, often rhymed poems, that I also enjoy hearing whenever possible. She is good, too, about sticking to the theme, with "Walk in the Woods" & "Wedded Miss" set in Thatcher Park, burning her wedding dress years after the event. As she read she tossed her poems to the stage. She told stories about Thatcher Park, being married there & her granddaughter's birthday there, "Be Strong Parent," & "Relax & Enjoy the Ride," & "Prattle Rhyme" -- always smiling, always fun.

Don Levy was one of the scheduled poets, but was unable to be here, so I read his poem "The Queerest Little Laundromat in Albany" (it's dedicated to fellow Albany poet RM Engelhardt), then I read a selection of my Earth Day poems (as close to Nature poems as I get): "Altamont Fair Poem," "I'm doing my par to Preserve the Adirondacks," "Earth Day," "The Cardinal," & "The Lilacs." Glad to be asked to be part of this event.

When Thom Francis was a young poet with another name he was a featured reader at Cafe Web, the first site of the Third Thursday Poetry Night. Now he is el presidente of, & half of the music/poetry group "Murrow." In his poems tonight the map of the wrinkles of the face of "Al" played against (Marilyn) "Monroe's Second Coming," then the "Piano Man" took us into "Relevance Gone" -- good to hear Thom's poems again in a solo setting (while "Murrow" works on new material).

Not on the program, Chris Brozek was an enthusiastic audience member so was invited up on stage. He showed us, in the painting that served as our backdrop, where he lives in the shadow of the mountains, recited a short poem about waking up there, another about being barefoot under the trees & talked about riding his bike in Thatcher Park.

You know, if Poetry had any power, this reading would be enough to keep the park open. But then I want to know how you can "close" a space that has a highway running through it? If they have the money to pay all the cops they need to keep people out of the space, they have enough to keep it "open," whatever that means.

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