May 9, 2011

Half-Moon Books, May 7

Rebecca Schumejda runs this marvelous series out of the Half-Moon Bookstore on Front St. ("every city on a river has a Front St.") in Kingston, NY on a sort of random basis. Tonight she had 3 out of 4 poets show up for a relaxed evening of poetry, devoid of open micers.

First up was Albany poet Jill Crammond with her take on a disentegrating marriage with such poems as "A Short History of the Gardener's Marriage…" (some of her titles tend to be very long), "The Ex-Wife Balances the Joint Checking Account" with it's facile play on numbers & banking terms, & the cannibalistic "June Cleaver Finishes Off the Last of Her Husbands" (with its nod to absent feature Jason Crane). Some of her poems referenced the kids as well, such as the Curious George based "Carrots Don't Grow Overnight." & what's with the baby-sitters & the FBI?

Over the years I've seen a steady progression in the work of Christopher Wheeling & his selections tonight highlighted his more mature work, eclectic, whimsical & sometimes dreamy. For example, "Tea with the Mountain" is a response to a fortune cookie, & the title of "Weaponized Cuteness" is almost enough in itself. His poem "Remembering Jacob Cohen" is a re-telling of the Biblical hero as Rodney Dangerfield, & "Variations on 'The Metamorphosis'" is for fans of Kafka. In "Clockwork" he responded to a poetic challenge from Glen Werner, while the poem "Magnetic Field Two" was written in collaboration with Janet Hamill. He also read some of his ongoing dream poems, & ended with the poem "Escapism" in which the last word is "forget."

The third & final reader is one of Albany's most hard-working poets, Carolee Sherwood & of course (of course) she read her signature "relationship poems," starting with "Zombies Talk in their Sleep," then moving on to a room-of-her-own in "Boudoir." "Mine" used the images of mining to describe relationships. She read a series of short poems titled by the dates they were written which she described as from last year, her "Phillips road series," followed by the more recent "McGeary's Monday Night April 25." "The Way to the Store" is based on a poem by W.S. Merwin, the all-too-common experience of redoing an argument over & over. But lest you think her too serious, she also included "The Comic Book Version" (of herself) & ended with "Dear Reader" in which she makes fun of herself & Billy Collins.

This is a wonderful venue for readings, the poets & audience surrounded by rows & rows of books, & tonight was a grand mix of poets, good to hear bigger samples of their work than they usually get to read at open mics. The one sad note was that Jason Crane who had also been scheduled was unable to make it. Perhaps some other time.

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