November 11, 2010

Live from the Living Room, November 10

On the eve of Veterans' Day we gathered in the living room of the Capital District Gay & Lesbian Community Center for the open mic & to hear the featured poet, W.D. Clarke. He began with poems from his 2009 collection Soldier Ballads and Other Tales, "The Circumcision," & a poem about war flash-backs, "The Night Time Army." Many of Wayne's poems have a strong narrative base, like those of his favorite poets, Robert Service & Rudyard Kipling, sometimes grim, like "The Ballad of Robert Brill" or "The Prospector's Revenge." But there is also plenty of humor, often irreverent & scatological, as in "The Two-Holer" (which poses a good question), & "Grandma's Leg." "The Pipe Smoker" is advice for guys on attracting (& keeping a good woman), & his motivational poem advises simply "Keep Going." I've said this before, but I will say it again, listening to the poetry of W.D. Clarke has made me appreciate (again) rhyming tales in the old style.

On to the open mic, I read for Veterans' Day an old poem from the 1980s, "John Lees," then the just written (yesterday) "Fast & Slow." Another rhymer, A.C. Everson read a hot-flashes poem, "Slice of Life," & then "Ode to a Toaster," an old wedding present.

Bob Sharkey read Federico Garcia Lorca's prescient poem "Qasida of the Dark Doves," which led to a brief discussion of the mystery of his death, then Bob's own short poem, "Borden Ave. Veterans Shelter."

Our straight-friendly host, Don Levy, read 2 poems from his series about the former punk-rock club where so many poets got their start at the last Monday open mic, "Losing My Virginity" (I was there that night -- but it wasn't me), & "Alexander Street" about the apartment & parties of 2 former Albany poets.

It was also nice to have, in addition to the poets, some lovely audience members, such as Wayne's wife Linda & "the 2 Ks," Kristen & Kim & the taller & taller Alexis. The crowd varies but it's always cozy on the 2nd Wednesday at the Center on Hudson Ave. in Albany, NY, 7:30PM.

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