November 7, 2010

Half Moon Books Reading, November 6

Another in the exciting series of readings by traveling & regional poets, organized by Rebecca Schumejda at Half Moon Books in Kingston. Tonight's lineup included a number of poets who have read here before.

But Dan Provost from Worcester, MA hadn't; I had crossed poetic paths with him a couple years ago at the Connecticut Beat Poetry Festival. His poems are clear, direct statements from a working class background, often dealing with bars, & violence; generally short poems, read fast. The title of "Do I Look Like I Want to Talk to You?" says it all, but the portrait of "Poor Candy" in a dive bar was poignant, as was the domestic violence of "Making a House a Home." The insomniac poem "Lights in Worcester" is a nocturnal portrait of his home town. He also read from the recent team-collection with Aleathia Drehmer, A Quiet Learning Curve (Rank Stranger Press, Mount Olive, NC), including "Blue Collar White Heat," & "I Was Dumped for a Warlock."

Aleathia Drehmer read this past July at Poets in the Park in Albany, NY & published a couple of my poems in her tiny zine Durable Goods (#25). She also read a cluster of poems touching on domestic violence, & loss, from A Quiet Learning Curve -- a good pairing of poets. Aleathia has another chapbook out recently, You Find Me Everywhere (Propaganda Press, Palo Alto) from which she read a generous selection, including "The Seamless Gate" for Dan Provost, "He Wanted a Love Poem," & "Marquise & the Sliver Spoon," among others [I noted that this attractive little book contains a couple poems from her visit to Albany this summer, "The Poetry Motel" & the poem for Moses Kash III, "You Can't Let the Moment Pass You By"]. She ended with some poems still in manuscript, including "Reading Tea Leaves at Midnight" & the 1994 "In the End I Just Let It Go" recently revised, again demonstrating that poetry is a process.

John Dorsey, who had read here in August, was back around again on his peripatetic poetry tour, tonight the "name-dropping reading," beginning with "The Year Joe Brainard Died," then on to "Second Hand Unicorn (for Todd Moore)" & the "ecstatic nostalgia" of "The Way Things Were in 1981" (referencing Adam Walsh, how hinky esoteric). There were the working class reminiscence of "Invisible Dragons" & "Thumb Print on the Side of a Machine," but like "When Becky was in Hollywood" included gratuitous references to one degree of celebrity or another.

Roberta Gould's short poems are much more quotidian & the only "celebrity" I recall mentioned was the Long Island poet George Wallace (in her poem "Voice" from Louder than Seeds from FootHills Publishing). She then reverted to "the shopping bag method" of reading, clutching a bouquet of recent & older poems pulled up more or less at random, bearing titles like "Ghosts," or "Monday Morning," or "Insects." Or the abstractions "Imponderable," "Contingencies," "Space" & "History." Her mother's skill was detailed in "Spelling" & she celebrated the fidelity in "First" of 2 cardinals at her feeder. Roberta's poems are worth seeking out in her chapbooks & at the lucky readings where you can find her.

Different in style & energy is the lower Hudson Valley's whirling dervish of readings & open mics, Robert Milby. As he is wont to do he reported on recent birthdays of dead poets, then read a poem by John Keats. Milby's poems are a throwback to the 19th century, embroidered, over-cooked Romanticism, full of wild nature (hawks & crows, the Hudson River, wolves & fires). He celebrated the short life & work of early 20th Century poet Adelaide Crapsey, & of the more contemporary poet Mauro Parisi ("The Hudson River in Winter"). He confronted more contemporary issues with "Oil Volcanos" (the obligatory Gulf oil-spill poem) & one about the Long Island Wall-Mart Xmas stampede. Some of these poems were from his 2009 chapbook from Fierce Grace Press (Pooler, GA) Crow Weather.

A wonderful gathering of poets collected by the poetry mother of the mid-Hudson, Rebecca Schumejda. Catch it when you can -- & buy books.

No comments: