February 6, 2011

Poets Speak Loud!, January 31

When AlbanyPoets started this series at the Lark Tavern on Madison Ave., the first reading was scheduled for January 31, 2005, the last monday of the month, in tribute to Tom Nattell whose legendary poetry open mic at the QE2 on Central Ave. was held on the last Monday of the month for over 11 years. Tom, who was dying of cancer at the time, was invited to be the first featured reader. He died the morning of the reading, so the open mic became an impromtu memorial service. Afterwards we marched to the Robert Burns statue in Washington Park to "toss" Tom's beret to the head of Bobbie Burns, in what has become a yearly ritual. This year, with the demise of the Lark Tavern & Poets Speak Loud! move to McGeary's down on Clinton Square, we held the ritual prior to the open mic. With flowers, a candle, some sage &, of course, an environmentally green beret "tossed" to the head of Bobbie Burns, we once again paid tribute to the Star Dust among us. Thanks Tom!

& in the tradition of that first open mic at the Lark Tavern, I was the MC/host whatever-you-call-it. We began with playing from the recording of the 3 Guys from Albany, & Tom performing his poem "Save It." I read "Theology 101" (for Tom) then on with the open mic poets.

Jason Crane said his introduction to the poetry scene was on one such night at the Lark Tavern, & read his poem he wrote about that night, then a very new poem, "January 25, 2011" (for Egypt). Jill Crammond is known for her "June Cleaver" poems & began what could be perhaps the Ur-poem in that series, "June Cleaver Finishes Off the Last of Her Husband" (with a cleaver no less!), then another pleasant piece, "The Christmas Lights Now Married to the Curtains Make Another Kind of Husband" (at least that's what I think she said).

Josh McIntyre likes to read his titles twice (his poems are short) but then when he had start again, he read the title twice, again, so if you didn't get it that the title was "Hush" you were either in the bathroom or fooling around. Avery's first poem was titled "A New Pair" & was about socks, & he was surprised when we drew a connection to his second poem (about wine) -- that's about feet too, isn't it?

Sally Rhoades had an old poem, "In My Mother's Garden" (for her teacher, Judy Johnson), from her days in graduate school when she first entered the poetry scene here under Tom's influence, the Readings Against the End of the World & the QE2 open mic. Big Daddy, our cook here at McGeary's, likes to sneak out from the kitchen to join the poets he's been feeding & read the list poem he called "Beauty" -- find it within.

I read my "Birthday Poem" from 2009, telling pretty much the same story as Jason's poem. Joe Krausman played a humorous variation on a famous tune from his youth, his version titled "I've Got Arrhythmia." Mary Panza, one of the driving forces behind this event, & the poetry scene here, read her new poem set in the Mall, "Because of You I Believe in Housewife Tuesday…"

I finished with "Chasing Tom" then played the recording of 3 Guys from Albany performing Tom's rap piece, "CO2," & at the request of Sally, once again Tom's iconic "Save It."

The beret was still there 4 days later.

Last Monday of the month (I've said that already) at McGeary's on Clinton Square in Albany, NY, sponsored by AlbanyPoets. com

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