March 10, 2011

Half-Moon Books, March 5

Someone commented on a previous Blog post of mine that "people aren't coming out to poetry readings anymore." A regular reader of these entries here will realize this can't be true. Just counting the number of people who read in the open mic shows a substantial showing of local poets on a regular basis, & there are always a few more in the audience who don't read (you can see them in the photos that show the audience). This reading in Kingston was a good example of the audience for poetry, as you can see from some of the photos.

The series is co-ordinated & hosted by Rebecca Schumejda, tonight with help from her daughter, Kaya. The first reader was Paul Clemente, whose photos were on display on the walls of the bookstore. He coordinates the Read for Food program down in Highland, NY. He began with a letter he wrote to his co-workers about his Parkinson's Disease, then a discursive meditation on a snow-blower, & a couple of more Nature-oriented poems, "The First Rivulet" & "Calving" (on glacier ice-caps).

Donald Lev, the grand-ole mensch of Home Planet News, read from a work-in-progress, "The Art of Suggestion." These were were a string of mostly short pieces, many sounding like dreams, ranging as far & wide as NYC ("A Previous Life"), to a poets' party ("The Day"), to his house ("Usher"), among others. In "Personal Narrative" he wondered if he was screwed up because of the way his mother dressed him.

Cheryl A. Rice read from a couple of single sheet, fold-out "Origami poems," "Outside," a memory of fishing with her father*, & "Another Rose." Also a varied selection of new & older poems, including the gym poem, "No Judgment Zone," & a favorite of mine, the love poem "I Was You Were," & a few poems from her chapbook Auction. Always a pleasure to hear Cheryl's new work & the old favorites too.

Mike Jurkovic had just been the featured poet at McGeary's in Albany & it was just fine to hear some of the same poems repeated, such as "My Inner Mexican" & "Half-Shitty" about the kinds of days we have & how it can become all relative. He included some poems from Purgatory Road, his 2010 chapbook from Pudding House, & of course some pot-smoking poems (I don't mean the poems were smoking pot, I mean, well, like, you know what I mean, I think…).

Mary Panza was the last poet for the night, flush with being named by Metroland's readers as Albany's Best Poet, as well she should. She ran through a quick set of, well, Mary-Panza poems: "Roofing & the Art of the Kiss," "Housewife Tuesday," "I Am Waiting for the Poem to Come" (while at work), the poem on Wim Wenders "perfect black & white," overhearing "Two Men Discuss Victor Hugo," "The Treacherous End" (lusting after a waiter), "Divorcing Albert," & the sudden "Cock-Kicker Manifesto."

Check regional poetry calendars for when this fascinating series is again:,

*  See Comments for a correction.


Anonymous said...

Dan, that wasn't about fishing with MY father! It was an imaginary girl, and an ice fishing trip in Minnesota! xoC

Anonymous said...

"Someone commented on a previous Blog post of mine that people aren't coming out to poetry readings anymore."

What I believe R.M. meant in that previous Metroland's Best Poets post-comment Dan was that they-poets, are not coming out in Albany and that he feels that the Albany, NY poetry area is dwindling in its attendance due to the negativity and drama caused by your blog and its misrepresentations and that also, as a figure holds you responsible for much of that in the way you are presenting, treating and speaking about localized poets who are not celebrities and just people, your fellow writers who deserve some respect. Personally, I don't believe in writing blogs. You don't know what kind of characters are out there looking up your information, or for that matter you really don't know whats fact, honesty, or reliable or untrue, or unreliable dis-information. We live in a country where we are lucky to have freedom of speech Dan, where veterans, like yourself have fought & have died for that right. The least we can do is hope that people in this country whether they are writing a newspaper article or for that matter, blogging about other people respect that right and not abuse it and write about their subjects in a professional manner. For the most part? I do enjoy reading many of the open mic reviews that you seem to write quite glowingly when readings are nearby or out of town, but the reviews that you give to the regular open mics in the Albany area? You seem to merely make short name references to their poems and sometimes bash their appearance, personal life and or the poet's in general. I've also noticed that you never have a bad thing to say about female poets, especially if they are your friends. Is that really fair or objective mic reporting Dan?

:) L.