Another night of poetry, folks coming to the SJC & not just hanging out in the nice weather. Once again, with a handful of people there at the beginning, those present when the open mic started were awarded with the option of reading 2 poems if they wanted, while those arriving later were held to the dreaded 1 poem rule. Our muse for the evening was Pablo Neruda, his poem "La United Fruit Co." in Ben Belitt's translation (more on the Neruda-connection later).
Alan Catlin was first up with 2 poems from one of his many chapbooks, a man never without a poem in his pocket. Sylvia Barnard did just one poem about a distant cousin with brief lecture on genealogy (& initiating a series of comments & references on Norman Rockwell throughout the night). Jason Crane did 2 poems, one on the great saxophonist Art Pepper that was a good preview for his scheduled feature here in July. Alan ("A.F.", as he signed up tonight) Casline had been out to British Columbia to the Charles Olson conference & one of his 2 poems was one of those sitting-in-a-cafe-observing-the-scene poems from Vancouver.
During the break, Josh's wife Beatriz Loyola mentioned that she was teaching Neruda's "La United Fruit Co." in her class at Skidmore College, so I asked her to read a poem by Neruda in Spanish. After we came back again for the open mic, she read "Hambre en el Sur" ("Hunger in the South") -- how great it was to hear the poet's words in the language in which he wrote it. Also after the break I read one of my new poems (didn't bring 2), "Grey Day in Truro".
W.C. Clarke recently had his poem "That Old Flag" published in Saratoga Today for Flag Day, then from his book of poems, Soldier Ballads & Other Tales "Their Last Stand." Anthony Bernini's poem "The Dance of Dish & Glass" was given to him, he said, over years, by a woman in her 80's -- ice cream & wine. Steve Pusateri was here for the first time, visiting in the area, his poem "Wings" a mediation on the need for both left & right. Moses Kash III was back from softball practice to read "Hillary's Speech Number 212, New York," after which I asked Jason Crane to come back up to read his poem, "Stand Up Moses," written for Moses after last month's open mic, a fitting tribute to one of Albany's elder poets.
We're here at the Social Justice Center every third Thursday of the month, starting at 7:30 -- featured poet & an open mic for the rest of us.