November 20, 2010

Third Thursday Poetry Night, November 18

A busy night at the Social Justice Center with 15 open mic poets & our dazzling featured poet, Carolee Sherwood. In a neat bit of synchronicity (don't anyone tell this to Joe Krausman) I had selected our muse for the night (Lorine Niedecker) on Monday, then on Tuesday the first poet that New York State Poet Jean Valentine recommended during her seminar was -- Lorine Niedecker! I read briefly from her selected poems.

The first open mic poet, Jason Crane, traveling in the featured poet's entourage, read his entry for the Writers' Digest Poem-A-Day project for today, "Lost & Found." Jill Wickham's poem "All the Pretty Mothers" has her running from the fairy tale life. Julie Lomoe read "11 Ways of Looking at November" (taking inspiration from Wallace Stevens) with the poetic tongue twister "shriveled thistles."

Mike Burke's poem "Christmas" jumped the season a bit & was a sad picture of a man alone. Tonight's rhymer, W.D. Clarke, read "The Reception" about a wedding party torn into chaos by a fart. Don Levy has been writing his poetic memoir of the nights at the QE2 & his installment tonight was "Poets Action Against Aids."

Our featured poet, Carolee Sherwood, is a very busy "poemer" (her word, not mine), as one of the co-hosts of Big Tent Poetry & cranking out poems everyday in November for the Poem-a-Day project. So she read several written this month, many of which can be found on her website. "Dear Reader" was a Billy Collins-style address for day 8. In "The City Where We Met" she took a look back at a relationship; another poem took us a plane flying to Portland, OR, with its meditation on the image of blade-like mountains. "Looking for the Tear Drop Lounge" was about being in Portland, day 6 of the project. "Things that Slowed Me Down Today" was a list poem for day 9, set in Portland, as was "Why I Smile to Myself" where the poet thinks she sees Dorianne Laux in a restaurant. When she read "A Failed Attempt to Write a Love Poem to her New Purple Coat" the coat itself was draped over her chair, like it was waiting for her. "Why Do We Watch It Go?" was about being on the plane, returning home. Her next poem was a nod to the approaching holiday, "A Guide to the Study of Symbolism in the 21st Century Household, Chapter 11: Thanksgiving." She ended with 2 poems not from the project: "Taking Credit for a Sunny Day," for her son Ben's birthday, & a poem about being born in Maine, "Where the Coroner Delivers Babies." Her poems are discursive, well-crafted, often with humor, ironic or otherwise; an excellent reading, &, as they say, her hair was perfect!

After the break, I read an old poem "I Want to Read My Love Poems to You" that had been sort of accepted for a poetry zine, if the poem was tighter, more focused, but it's not. This was Carol Kenyon's first time at the Social Justice Center & she read a nonsense, adult nursery rhyme, "Needing the Beat Down" on domestic violence. Nancy Denofio's narrative, "You Gotta Believe" was about listening to baseball on the radio while in class. "The Heart of Darkness" by Barbara Garro was about too much belief & learning from time what to avoid. It seems like Sally Rhoades has been following me to poetry events all this week; tonight, she read the very brief, "Tonight."

A.C. Everson joined in on the holiday theme with the turkey's demise, "Tom's Last Stand." Sue Oringel's "Links" was her love song to the game of golf. Moses Kash III read the rambling "Speech #1" written for President Obama. Sylvia Barnard's poem, "World Within Reach," was a very personal response to the public controversy over the State University cutting out language & other humanities programs, of being fired after teaching there for 43 years. But, hey, that just means she has more time to write poems.

Another dazzling night of poets & poetry at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY -- every third Thursday (as the title says), 7:30 PM.

1 comment:

Marni Gillard said...

Thanks for a true feeling of being there. Storytelling gatherings take most of my time, but my heart is with the Albany area poets. Means a lot when I read a post like this. Will get there one of these nights. Thanks Dan. Bravo Carolee.