June 17, 2010

Live from the Living Room, June 11

Live from the Living Room is usually held in the living room of the Capital District Gay & Lesbian Community Center on the 2nd Wednesday of each month, but this month because of space conflicts with the Capital Pride 2010 celebrations it was held on a Friday night at the UAG Gallery on Lark St. And where there is usually an open mic & a featured poet, tonight it was 2 featured poets (& no open mic). But the host as usual was the genial gay Don Levy, exemplifying Capital Pride in any year.

I arrived after Richard Morrell had started his reading, in the midst of a paean to guy-love. After some uncertain shuffling of his pages, he read a piece about being an artistic person having to work in the mundane/bureaucratic world, with the line "I am the Mozambique of playwriting." Richard has written 55 "Doom Sonnets," & he read 4 of them tonight, including one interesting wordplay on Christmas. Another poem pondered what the future will look like, in a feathered cape, & another, random meandering poem, was just written today on a bench in Washington Park. He ended with a piece I've seen him perform at open mics, a vigorous performance piece with elaborate hand motions, "Flipper Meets Gentle Ben."

I have to admit to a deep affection for the next featured poet, Shannon Shoemaker, & for her poetry. Her poems deal with longing & love lost & with the conflicts of being an out Lesbian. In that latter category she began with an older poem, "Coming Out: My Family Doesn't Get Me;" other political poems included the Pride Day rant "Justice for All," "Tongue in Cheek" (on "diversity" in her kid's school), & "Don't Ask Don't Tell" ("not," she said, "a membership drive"). While her "Poem for the Open Mic" is a rant for the stage, "A Rant of 20 Questions" is about a girl she would see at open mics. The fine, newer poem, "Of Hummingbirds & Sunday Supper" was about passion & longing. Others in that same vein included "Grown Cold," the dark "Midnight October" & "The Last Poem" with which she appropriately concluded her reading. Always a treat.

Not Don's usual event but a fine evening of poetry -- & Pride -- just the same.

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