March 3, 2011

Sunday Four Poetry, February 27

A fine turnout of poets, including a couple of "virgins" for the open mic & a featured reading by Joe Krausman, with our hosts Edie Abrams & Dennis Sullivan.  Edie presented the recently published Smith's Tavern Poet Laureate Contest collection of the winning poems by 2010 Poet Laureate Barbara Vink, Runner-up Carolee Sherwood & Honorable Mention Howard Kogan.  The book is available from Square Circle Press.  But first, the open mic.

Alan Casline's rambling poems were about the rain on his cabin in the woods, the history of a tavern on the Scoharie Road, then a report on the books he got in the mail. I recited "Joe Krausman" then read the new annual "Birthday Poem 2011." Tim Verhaegan always digs deep into his family & personal life & read "Gay Men Gay Son," & a poem about his brother, dead 31 years ago today; then he brought Larry Rapant up to perform "Nightmare on State St." about a pick-up years ago. Dennis Sullivan tends to philosophize, first about his early career change ("I Am Moved to Litanize") & his father ("Questions for a Visitor"). Obeedude read again from his iPad, a bookended triptych of visual poems, "The Convexity of Dishes," "Rembrandt's 3rd Cousin Twice Removed," & "The Concavity of Dishes" (which was the same, I think, as the first poem).

The first of the new readers was Lloyd Barnhart with a trio of story poems, "Dancing in the Deer Woods" about deer-hunting instructions in the lingo of dance, "Pearl" & "The East Creek Killers."

 Another first timer, Jim Macris began with a poem about watercolors & 1st graders, then on to how great it is "To Be Touched," & "Death of a Childhood Nightmare." Paul Amidon began with Winter poems, the first about skating on the town dump ("The Price of Admission"), then skidding in his car ("Driving Lesson"), then his "Poems as Children."

Howard Kogan's humorous poem "Migration" was a meditation on hair & aging, while "This Here Guy" was a childhood memory of learning the mystery of words from a neighbor who "didn't talk too well." Philomena Moriarty began with 2 poems about her brother, the recently written "The After-death" & the older roses-&-music "Romance," then a recent poem "Walking on Rice Paper" (be still). Barbara Vink was a late addition to the sign-up sheet & shouldn't have apologized for "The Lesson" on ironing, ending tenderly.

Dennis Sullivan introduced Joe Krausman as an exemplar of "down-state consciousness." Joe said his themes would be Love, Death & Doctors. I've been a student for years of Dr. K's humorous, ironic, philosophical poems, often predicated on word-play & sometimes using subtle rhymes (& not so subtle -- how many poets do you know who can rhyme on "hernia"?). I noticed today that he is a master of the 2nd person, "you", which I suspect takes "him" (the poet) out of the poem, the anti-memoir to protect the guilty. & often he casts his ponderings as narratives, as in "Suture Self," "Oil & Water," "Organ Lessons," & the meditation on coincidence, "Thanksgiving." Many years ago I was in a poetry workshop led by John Montague, where I first met Joe & heard his fine poem "Houdini on the Death of His Mother," which he included today, thankfully.  Joe is one of those local poets we are blessed to have in this area to inspire & entertain us, down-state, or upstate consciousness -- whatever.

The fourth Sunday of most months, 3PM, at Old Songs Community Arts Center, 37 S. Main St., Voorheesville, NY (hey, MapQuest it). Then join us at Smitty's afterwards.

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