September 15, 2010

Live from the Living Room, September 8

(Sorry about the delay in posting this; I was going to type it up over the weekend while I was in Gloucester, but never got to it -- I had many things not to do while walking the sand.)

A roomful of poets in the living room of the GLCC for the featured poet, Bless, who did some favorites I've heard before & some new work too. He began with his meditation on jazz sounds & drinking & smoking & what cut short the lives of many of the great musicians we listen to (Adrena then talked about the poem, the introductions Bless never gives). Then a piece, "Awareness", written in response to a friend's shock that he was doing a reading at the Gay & Lesbian Community Center, cutting through homophobia & prejudice. Then the wonderfully ironic piece about talking with a homeless man, then finding his pocket picked. Another new piece, actually the first time it was performed, was "Religion" (on death). He ended with a consideration of ignorance & how it can keep people apart. Often poets who address the kinds of issues that Bless takes on end up sounding like your mother or father or the Sunday preacher pointing a finger. Bless can preach with images, with cadenced phrases, that teach without berating, with open hands not finger-pointing.

On to the open mic & I began with my poem for Rosh Hashanah, "Tashlich," then a new piece "Coyote" with, I was told in no uncertain terms, too long of an introduction (but I did want to acknowledge Alison Koffler's influence on the poem). Jason Crane read William Stafford's poem, "A Ritual to Read to Each Other" (Stafford has been popping up lately in local blogs, as well as here tonight), then his own "White Man's Burden." Carolee Sherwood's 2 poems, "September" & the dream-like "Interrupted" are both up on her Blog (with commentary, of course).

Tim Verhaegan's 2 poems were very different, the first "Mourning Morning Meltdowns" on deaths in his family, & the satiric commentary on "circuit boys" & "bears" in "Provincetown Week." Bob Sharkey read "fairly recent pieces" from his summer trips, a meditation on slavery & Thomas Jefferson (that contains the first poetic mention of his new granddaughter), "Monticello," then a prose excerpt about the leftovers in a hotel room from a trip to the West Coast. Sally Rhoades' poems dealt with memories, the first how dancing dredged up old memories of sexual abuse, then one about taking a journalism course as a young student.

Sylvia Barnard said her poems also loosely fit under the category of "what I did on my summer vacation." She retold the old murder mystery of "Christopher Slaughterford," then "Old Quad Corpus Christi College, Cambridge" (old indeed, it was built in 1350). Jill Crammond Wickham was also back from her summer vacation in the Adirondacks, with "Dear Loon" in 3 sections, then a 2-parter postcard poem on a traveling Adirondack photographer. Our host, Don Levy, finished us off with a hilarious imagining of his mother stuck in France a year & returning totally Frenchified in "My French MaMa."

Every 2nd Wednesday on Hudson Ave. in Albany -- comfortable, chatty & relaxed (& always straight-friendly).