September 28, 2010

Sunday Four Poetry, September 26

The scheduled performance was of Apollonius of Tyana as part to the the extended "Black Mountain North Symposium" but due to technical issues it could not be produced so the hosts (Dennis Sullivan, Edie Abrams, & Michael Burke) asked me to fill in as the featured poet. I had just been there I thought, but it was during their first season, in May 2009. This was the start of their 3rd year of this exciting & gentle series bringing a variety of regional poets to this happy venue, so I said yes, & am glad I did.

Teacher & poet Art Willis, a friend of many present, died earlier this week & many of the poems this afternoon invoked his presence, as poetry is a memorial for time passed.

But first there is the open mic, & this afternoon the place was packed. Edie was our host & bringer of flowers that you can see in the pictures. Jason Crane began with his poem "The Last Piece of Ice Under the Sky" published as a broadside by Benevolent Bird Press, then the new love poem "Estonia." Carolee Sherwood's poems were recent, "The Feeling that Winter is Near" & the temporarily titled "Wednesday Night Poetry Reading" (seems like a good title to me, like the poem itself); she will be the featured poet here on March 27, 2011. Dennis Sullivan pointed out that all 3 finalists in Smitty's Tavern Poet Laureate contest last year were in the house today, Carolee was second place. Tim Verhaegan began the afternoon's meditation on death with a list of what his father used to say, "His Wise Words," then a poem about a child, "Elisha" then an elegy for Art Willis.

Dennis Sullivan read Art Willis' poem "Sketchy" then his own tender poem about Art "I Tucked My Friend in Bed Today" (for Judy W.) -- available as a broadside for the taking. Mark O'Brien, reading from his iPad, read a poem dedicated to Dennis Sullivan, then a short one for Art Willis, "Sturm und Drang" & ended with the tombstone poem, "This Foul Act." Howard Kogan, who was one of the Poet Laureate finalists last year as well, read from "draft 26" of his poem "Dreaming of Leah," memoir of his grandmother, & mother. Barbara Vink, the reigning Smith Tavern Poet Laureate, read "The Weatherman," which she wrote for the late Voorheesville poet John Rankin, but read as an elegy for Art Willis. Joe Krausman followed with 2 food poems, "Table Manners" & "Ode to Cheese." Larry Rapant, another regular here, read "A List of Things I Won't Do Today," then some random stanzas, & a short, flash take on religion.

Anne Lapinsky (new to me) read a couple poems inspired by her garden, one on beets & the other, "Cardinal Flowers," written after spending some time on the Catholic mountaintop retreat in Chestertown. Susan Riback made a welcome appearance with 2 poems, "Meditation on Orange" & "An Early Spring Day." Mike Burke also paid tribute to Art Willis by reading Art's poem "Poetic Instrospection," then his own poem "To Skip" which turns on the last line. Tom Corrado read just one poem, "Intaglio" (Tom is also a painter). Alan Casline read a just-written experimental poem with repeating lines/phrases, "Lady Looks," then what sounded like an elegy, "Who By Right Carries My Body to My Rock Cairn."

At this point, Edie Abrams introduced (again) the venerable Mike Burke, who kindly & effusively introduced the afternoon's featured poet -- me, Dan Wilcox.

My program was mostly poems I'd written since I last was a featured poet here, with the exception of 2 older poems by request. I began with the tongue-in-cheek poem about the Poetry Motel Hotel Convention Center & Spa, "The Spa," then on to the very recently written "Old Postcard from New York." Dennis Sullivan requested I read "The Lilacs" & I was very happy to accommodate him as it is one of my favorite poems. Then a cluster of poems with "poem" in the title, "On a Poem by ee cummings," "'Poeming'," & the Frank O'Hara-inspired "Poem." "Pindar's Shrimp" was the obligatory Gulf-oil-spill poem. For "Coyote" I had the able assistance of Susan Riback & Carolee Sherwood, 2 real suburban housewives to read the lines of the suburban housewives; "Coyote 2" was written from the point of view of the suburban husbands.

 I ended with, as I can only end with this poem, "The Bra Poem" -- the picture is self-explanatory (& the poem itself is posted on this Blog). Walt Whitman said that great poets need great audiences & I must say I certainly had a great, attentive, appreciative, intelligent audience here today, which made being the featured poet all that much more fun.

The series continues on the fourth Sunday of each month at 3PM at Old Songs Community Center, 37 S. Main, Voorheesville, NY, through next July -- well worth the trip from anywhere.

Benevolent Bird Press has published some of Art Willis' poetry, so if you are interested in seeing his work, contact the publisher, Alan Casline at P.O. Box 522, Delmar, NY 12054.

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