January 3, 2011

Poets Speak Loud: the Dan Wilcox Roast, December 27

So how to write about this? First of all, it's all about me & barbecue sauce; second, I didn't take many notes & drank a few bourbons; third, Keith videoed it, right? So what can I say that won't be contradicted by a couple of other versions of reality? I was pleased to be surrounded by my Albany poetry friends, both roasters & spectators, although the first big snowstorm of the season limited the audience somewhat -- that's life in the Great Northeast.

Dan Nester had a full written text but we don't know how much he improvised from it, though he seemed to roast other absent poets of Albany as well as me, just stoking the fires I guess. He was followed by the AlbanyPoets.com executive staff, including el presidente, Thom Francis, Mary Panza & Keith Spencer. I was allowed time to fire back/defend myself, but, hey, so much of what was said was true (or pretty darn close) I just assumed whatever was said was true but un-indictable. The next time they should make sure we get a bus pass to Rob so he could get here for the fun. AlbanyPoets.com hopes to make this an annual event -- not roasting me, but some active poet fool in the Albany scene, so stay tuned to their website for the listing of events throughout the year & the next roast.

The highlight of the event was when A.C. Everson (aka "Breaking My Art") gave me head, I mean presented a pinata in the image of my head, (photo by Mary Panza) filled with kisses (of course), peace-sign key chains, perky, fuzzy boobies & kitchen magnet images of me with a poem sticking out of my head.  Fortunately she didn't break my head, but dug deep into the hole in it under the beret to toss the goodies to the audience.  I could've gone to heaven right then, such an honor from Albany's Pinata Queen (maybe I did).

Actually my notes start after the roast (& the 3rd bourbon) so they are probably more accurate. The dancing poet Avery Stempel read a couple of pieces, in his exhubarent, Terpsichore style, one a tribute to the Roasted himself (used with Avery's permission) about an open mic I missed:

Welllll… that’s not exactly what happened…
An Open Mic Sans Dan Wilcox
by Avery Stempel

Oh the invoker of muses
            The stirrer of star-dust

Absent now
            Victim to that fickle fate that strikes us all from time to time: lacking the ability to split into multiples and be everywhere at once.

We waited in that somehow empty room, glancing back and forth, over our shoulders, making small-talk as the minute hand gradually progressed towards the appointed start time, smacked it across its rosy cheek, and then moved on… minutes pass, we wait some more... looking around awkwardly, shuffling printed pages, flipping through notebooks, not knowing how to begin, or, whether we should begin at all…

Finally someone dazedly stumbles to the microphone, mumbles incoherently – and we’re off – reciting as if in a fog, the muse only a faint light winking on and off in the distance – babbling in tongues, depressed and mystified: poets, musicians, artists lost – without guidance, without inspiration

               Lacking that spark, that dust, that beacon, that hint of peaceful creativity

The air in the room is stifling, subtly devoid of the “schnik-click” of a camera shutter contracting, devoid of peace beads and berets, devoid of the presentation of that unique viewpoint - the opening of that stained glass, multicolored window that is the poet DWX.

Suddenly, the mists shift, vibrant rays of coincidence blast through the fuzziness and
synchronistic lightning bolts explode out of poet’s mouths, making him present after-all!

He is here… he is!

                     maybe not in this room directly...

            but here… and now…

the readings continue… the music plays on... the windows open and close…
                      and the muse laughs

It’s not the truth
            But it’s pretty darn close

After that there seemed to be some general confusion about the alleged open mic for which no one brought poems. But there were plenty of poems in my head (in the pinata & in the kitchen magnets Annine had made). So how appropriate was it that that everyone got to read one of my poems during the Quote/UnQuote Open Mic? Thom (most appropriately) "The Ellipsis Poem," Carissa read "Ave A Girls," Mary "Ordering Lunch," Carolee "Channeling Richard Brautigan," & Jill read "The Birds' Poem of Thanks." Jason pleased & honored me by asking to read (& did) "My Sather Gate Illumination."

But then we had a real open mic poet, dying to perform his work for us, Big Daddy (whose other work some of us had been eating tonight), the cook here at McGeary's. He began by proudly announcing almost a year "clean," & read "Reborn," then the equally positive "Growth."

& a brief, roasted thanks to Tess Collins & the staff of McGeary's, particularly our patient & unflappable waitress Megan -- we'll be back on the last Monday of each month for the open mic, featured poets, good food, cold beer, lots of smiles, & parking on the streets.

If I was "roasted" tonight it was in the warmth of my friends in this wonderful, vibrant poetry scene here in Albany -- thank you AlbanyPoets.com & to all that showed up. I'll see you at the next open mic.

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