January 29, 2010

Third Thursday Poetry Night, January 21

Winter in Albany & the poets keep warm with words. At this night's open mic Jason Crane started us off with the poem, "Memorex Hummingbird" was from a visit with his family to 5-Rivers Nature Center.  Rod Aldrich has been joining us lately at some open mics & tonight read on the opposite of writers' block, "Fountain from the Wide Open Hidden", overwhelmed with ideas to write about. Joe Krausman found an old poem, "Salad Days," a food metaphor for our life on Earth. It is a good sign when new poets show up at open mics & tonight's virgin was Christine Hollister; her poem, "Queen's Retaliation," used a bit tattered metaphor of Kings & Queens, but hopefully if she keeps attending open mics her poems will find their way to the 21st Century.

Todd Fabozzi has a new book, Crossroads: radical poetry (The Troy Book Makers) & read mostly from it, improvising his set list as he went along. His poems deal with social issues, like race ("on the boardwalk"), workers ("dignity"), and the political scene. He included a couple of poems about ex-President Bush ("a token of gratitude" & the scatological "so long suckers"), then "higher ground" on Obama, & "degreased democracy" which could've been written about the recent Supreme Court decision. He ended with the long poem, a history of Amsterdam, "the city of yesterday's tomorrow" from his first book, Umbrageous Embers (The Troy Book Makers, 2008).

After the break I read my poem written this summer "My Sather Gate Illumination," which was recently published as a broadside by Benevolent Bird Press (if you want a copy, email me). W.D. Clarke was happily back again, this time with a poem about childhood & family memories, "Grandma's Leg," finding it years later in a secnd-hand shop. I had to wake up Sylvia Barnard, overcome by jet-lag from the Mediterranean, with a recent poem about hearing the morning call to prayer in Turkey, "Istanbul."

Katie Vermilyea was instrumental in bringing tonight's virgin, read a poem singing the praise of love, "Oh love..." (& she promises to bring more of her students in the future). Dr. Moses Kash III was also back (said "everybody is everything" as he came to the mic), then read a poem incorporating his memory of being in Haiti in 1976, "Baby Steps: Haiti & the Earthquake." Anthony Bernini was the night's last poet, read a poem about having too many electronic devices "Let Us Shut You Down."

We're at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY each third Thursday, starting about 7:30PM, an open mic (one poem, please) & a featured poet, for just $3.00.

January 28, 2010

Poet Rock Ritual, January 19

This is a new series that started about a month ago at the Putnam Den in Saratoga Springs, hosted by Margot Malia Lynch. What with the holidays & the puppet play Ubu Rex this is the first night I've been able to make it up there. The Putnam Den is a cavernous sports & games bar with 2 pool tables, big open floor space & a good sound system. There were few poets there, but some of the pool players & sports drinkers were in for a surprise when a poetry reading broke out. This reading is unique in having a rock band to backup the poets.

Margot started us off with "This is My Ritual," setting the mood (for some of us) with this poem about "air-fucking my living room floor..." I took the bait & did a couple of more raunchy poems: the new "Summer in California" & the just-published punk piece "Tritina." The band (drums, bass & lead guitar) did a good job of catching the mood & rhythm (first of a strip club, then of a punk band) without overwhelming the text. The bar-flies liked it.

Salik had read at the open mic at Caffe Lena this past summer & did a couple poems about personal spiritual development, "The Holy Gnosis" & "Room to Grow" (creating more prophets), doing the poems from memory standing still, his hands whirling, wheeling. Interesting work, somewhat out of place in this venue.
Galaxy Babs (apparently a regular here) did 2 pieces that were like dialogues on love & words & feelings, mixing well with the rock music. She was back again later with advice in what was perhaps titled "Enjoy Yourself" & another piece looking at faces.

Margot also did more poems in which she used the music as an opportunity to sing some lines, repeat others like refrains in a song. She is also known as "Mathundra Storm" when she skates with roller derbies with the Hellions of Troy. She looked good in her short skirt, mesh stockings & neon roller skates.

Throughout the night, with different poetic styles & voices, the band did a wonderful, respectful job of backing up each poet, & they seemed to enjoy it too. They were Chris Turano on drums, Marc Latzky on bass & James Gascoyne on guitar.

An interesting addition to the poetry scene. Give it a try -- every (!) Tuesday at the Putnam Den, 63A Putam St., Saratoga Springs, sign-up at 8:00 -- & there are drink specials.

January 23, 2010

U.rban G.uerilla T.heatre presents Newness, January 15

The Urban Guerilla Theatre has moved uptown, to "the Linda" on Central Ave., after many months downtown at the Masonic Temple on Madison Ave. After a confusion about the start time (some PR said 8PM, some 9PM & the fancy postcard ad didn't list any time at all) the program took off with energy, variety & good vibes. D.J. TrueMaster was spinnin' & Mojavi aka "First Thought" shared M.C. duties with "Poetyc Vyzyonz". The night included an open mic, then a "Game Show," featured performance by "Geminieye" & more open mic.

Starting with an open mic, Miss Bliss talked about a new lover in "Disclaimer." Mydori's poem "Father" was written when she was 13 for Father's Day, then pondered what "I Love You" means. The hip-hop duo DX Poets rapped about themselves & being poets. Poetic Voice gave us advice on not burning our bridges. I'm going out on a limb & say that Lotus Lion read the best poem of the night, "Aunt Jemima's Children" (& she even sang a spiritual too).

Eloquence's hip-hop rhymes carried us along "This Day." Then Mojavi (as First Thought) showed us where poetry, stand-up comedy & sex meet in a piece beginning, "She had the biggest ass..." The "Game Show" segment consisted of seemingly reluctant contestants guessing the author of poems that had been performed at previous UGT events, so I guess you had to be there; the winner got tickets to the next show.

The night's feature was a Def Poetry Jam star, Geminieye (but actually pronounced "Gemini"), whose untitled poems were all delivered in the accent & cadence of just about any Slam poet you've ever seen ("it's not in the writin', it's in the recitin'"). By my count 3 of his poems were about being a poet & how great that is, including his response to criticism that his poetry is easily understood; part of this was a section that made fun of academic rhyming poems, while, of course his own poems are full of stretched-for rhymes. One of his best was an erotic poem where he went backward in time from his death to the moment when he didn't put on the condom.

After Poetyc Vyzyonz was back describing "The Perfect Mate" they brought out a tap-dancer & that's when I left, missing the rest of the open mic.

There were a few real poems, lots of fun whatever it's called, & a bit too-much of the self-referential I'm-a-poet-&-that's-why-I'm-so-great that plagues so much of hip-hop. But a different kind of show & a warm, friendly community that apparently will be back at "The Linda" on a monthly basis. See you there.

January 20, 2010

Live from the Living Room, January 13

Tonight's featured poet in the cozy living room of the Capital District Gay Lesbian Community Center was Joe Krausman. I've know Joe for many years, since we met in John Montague's poetry workshop at the Writers' Institute (I even have a poem titled "Joe Krausman"). I enjoy the quirky & poignant humor of his poems, poems that he works hard at, & reads so well in his distinctive voice (he was the voice of McTurdy in the recent production of Ubu Rex at the Steamer 10 Theatre). He bookend-ed his reading with two poems on mortality, beginning with "Things Passing" & ending with "Only One to a Customer." Most of the rest of the poems in between were on a theme of "poems with animals." But they were not the usual loopy paean to Fluffy or Fido. He began with a couple of rhyming poems about bees, then on to "Lament for a Rhinoceros," & "Giraffe" (that gets eaten by a tiger). On to "Shooting the Moose & Others" & a poem of death & love & words, "Biochemistry," where a jaguar makes an appearance. There were a couple of cat poems, but one was really about an argument at work ("My Cat Got Hit By a Car"). "Metamorphosis" has each family member turning into a different animal. "Table Manners" brought together a lion & a gazelle, while "Bacon & Eggs" was -- what else? -- a pig & a chicken. A new poem, "For Lydia Davis," was about the daunting prospect of reading Proust, & there was even a poem about Hedy Lamarr caught shop-lifting. I'm glad Joe finally got here to read.

There were only a few of us in the house, & fewer to read (one fine local poet didn't bring any poems with her!). Barbara Kaiser rarely reads out & this is too bad. She read some amusing poems, all about disasters on one level or another, beginning with birds singing loudly, then on to a letter-poem involving infected ticks, & ended with dysentery & other travel disasters, "Travel Can Be Broadening."

I read last year's "Birthday Poem" then this summer's "My Sather Gate Illumination" recently published as a broadside by Benevolent Bird Press (Delmar). Our host all night, as every 2nd Wednesday here, was Don Levy. He read 2 recent poems, "The Ministry of Silly Talk" based on gay-hate remarks by the Ugandan Minister of Ethics, then worked out at the about-to-be-closed Albany YMCA with Mayor Jerry Jennings in "Sweating with the Oldie."

So cozy, so pleasant, so straight-friendly.

January 12, 2010

Albany Poets Present, January 5

The first poetry event of 20-10 with AlbanyPoets.com at Valentine's & we got bumped upstairs due to a chick-punk band downstairs, & this time we had the big stage, sound & lights.

Murrow (Thom & Keith) performed Thom Francis' driving poem. I had just gotten my copy of the Chiron Review  Winter 2009, "Punk Poetry" issue & so read my 2 poems from the zine, "Tritina" (inspired by an assignment from RM Engelhardt right here in this club some years back -- too bad Rob wasn't there yet to hear it), & "Song of the Tallest Towers" which predicted the 2nd attack on the World Trade Center.

Murrow was back on again with Thom's "time to write the next chapter" poem. Chris, who had read at open mics at the UAG & the Lark Tavern said he was back in Albany again read a poem he said was the "ugly side of passion" & another called "Double Entendre," both simply lists of single, isolated words. Dominick Rizzo's poem was about God & Moses, "Don't Bullshit Me," then the lyrics from a Pink Floyd song. Murrow again with the leaving home poem.

A pleasant surprise was to see Mojavi back, handing out flyers for the upcoming "Uban Guerilla Theatre event & performed a love poem, "Don't You Miss it", then a poem of adoration to a stranger "What Everybody Wants But Doesn't Know What He Needs." About this time the punk music began to swell up through the floor & it got even louder as RM Engelhardt got to the mic. He did a mock news broadcast on the death of Slam & the old cliche, "And in this Corner..." Good thing he knows how to be loud. And Murrow finished out the night with Keith's favorite, "Female Pedestrian," sounding even better with punk below.

So, we try to do this the first Tuesday of every month at Valentines; sometimes it's poetry, sometimes it's just drinking at the bar, & sometimes you can't tell the difference.

January 6, 2010

Poets Speak Loud!, December 28

Our host, Mary Panza, said she was losing her voice, but she managed to introduce all 9 poets, & was still talking afterwards when I left, such resilience.

I read my remembrance of a "bottom-less" bar, "Summer in California," then the fantasy ditty, "The Hippy Dress." Jill Crammond Wickham read the poem she didn't bring to the Season's Reading event last week, "June Cleaver Makes Much of Winter," then the New Year litany, "Resolved to Be More Like a Crow."

Carolee Sherwood's long titles are a challenge to my note-taking, a challenge I'm not always up to, like "The Magician Offers a Lame Apology to His Assistant..." (with the traditional rabbit & a woman cut in half), & the Wizard of Oz-inspired "A Thief Steals Metaphors for Frank Baum..." -- there was more to both titles. Cheryl A. Rice's titles were much simpler, "Ice Fishing" & "In Defense of Horses." I'd read with Guy Reed earlier this year at the Howland Center down in Beacon & it was great he made it up here tonight to read a poem about reading Jack Gilbert's work, "Old Mountain," the driving poem "Shadows."

RM Engelhardt was up with a Biblical poem about the 4, sorry, 3 Horsemen of the Apocalypse, then a boxing match between The Poet & the Serpent.  Sylvia Barnard read "Poem for My 72nd Birthday" (on Dec. 11) that told the story of her birth.

Avery was back with his white-boy hip-hop, "My Spoken Word" & "Continuous Speculation." Shannon Shoemaker read her poem "Brought Low" here last month, but read it again tonight because her best friend was here, then read a poem she was scribbling at her table just now, about remembering January in Michigan 20 years later.

So, check it out every last Monday at the Lark Tavern on Madison Ave. in Albany (they're on Facebook too) -- see the calendar on AlbanyPoets.com for complete info.

January 5, 2010

Sunday Four Poetry, December 27

Dennis Sullivan introduced the day's program & introduced Edie Abrams who introduced the open mic poets.

Alan Casline began with "Wintering in a Tee Pee" then a rhyming poem on sore Irish eyes from trying to find the image of the Virgin Mary in the sunrise, & ended with his flat-squirrel poem that you can find on his blog . I read a poem from this summer's visit to Berkeley, "My Sather Gate Illumination" (which Benevolent Bird Press has now published as a broadside -- thanks Alan) & "Kandinsky's Red Spot."

Mimi Moriarty's brother, Frank Desiderio, was in town for the holidays & they performed together as they did this summer alternating poems on related themes. First on Christmas, Mimi's "Inventing Reasons Not to Celebrate Christmas," then Frank's "Christmas Presents." Frank's poem from a workshop, "Home from the War" reflected off Mimi's "Back from the War." The last segment was on serenity, with Mimi reading "Debating St. Theresa" while Frank's poem was about the craziness of being in line & counting items. One of the best "tag-team" poetry collaborations out there.

Dennis Sullivan read about writing "the words of God" with his fancy fountain pen, then the funny rhymes of "One Cell Cowboy Joe." Larry Rapant's rambling Beat rants played off a news story in a funny poem of a donkey escaping from a Christmas scene, pondered about a "Pencil Where the Ear Should Be," & the irreverent "Ass Wednesday." Obeeduid (Mark O'Brien) gave us images from different parts of his life in a dream-state self-portrait.

Dennis' poet friend Michael Wheeling was visiting from Washington, DC & he joined in with poems written while he was in France, contemplating God (or god): "In the Kitchen of My Brain," "The Scent," and "Trinity Redux." Tom Corrado's "Surrendering the Plates" connected sounds & ideas & cliches.

This was Joe Krausman's first time here at this series & he impressed folks with his wry, Brooklyn humor, imagining being married to a 2-headed woman, then "A Tragedy Where a Foot-Fetishist Has to Settle for a Whole Woman," & mused on sending a generic holiday card. The afternoon's youngest poet was Morgan Keith, the featured poet's granddaughter, who read a poem, "Red," from a calendar she created where each month is introduced by a poem (keep writing, Morgan).

Tom Corrado introduced the featured poet, Mike Burke, by pulling a few lines from his poems, some of which we got to hear later in context. Benevolent Bird Press (Delmar, NY) published Mike's chapbook, Sonnets for a Summer Dog, & he read us a few from it ("Summer Shower", "A Rose and a Baby Ruth" & "Mr. Ransom"). His poems are generally short & easily accessible, often about his childhood or remembrances, such as remembering his mother in "The Homecoming," or an early home with his daughter, "10 Glenwood St.", or a favorite dog, "Bud." But he can also be humorous, as in "Departures" (at the airport). He ended with a recent poem written for a 3rd grade class, "Poppy," in which he describes all the roles he has had in his life. Certainly "Poet" is one of the better ones.

Afterwards, as is the custom, some of us gathered down the road at Smitty's Tavern where the discussions continued, a most pleasant Sunday afternoon.

Every 4th Sunday at the Old Songs Community Center in Voorheesville, NY, 3PM, a full schedule of featured poets & a congenial open mic.