July 20, 2011

Poets in the Park, July 16

Another beautiful night in Albany's Washington Park at the Robert Burns statue. A good crowd of poetry-lovers & just folk stopping by, to hear Gary Metras & Cara Benson.

Gary Metras has a stack of poetry books to his credit & is the printer/publisher of Adastra Press, publishing letterpress books of poetry since 1979 out of Easthampton, MA. He began with a series of poems from his new book Two Bloods: Fly Fishing Poems (Split Oak Press, 2010). He began with a meditation (what fishing often becomes), the poem "The Horizon," then "An Offering" (to the turkey vultures), & what these fisherman often do, "Throw Them Back." A poem about meeting a young fisherman, "The Promise," followed by a poem about meeting a young doe, "East Branch," then the quintessential fisherman's poem, "The Lost Trout." He ended with a short selection of poems from his Greatest Hits (1980-2006) originally published by Pudding House press, but now available from Kattywompus Press.

Cara Benson was recently awarded a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship for her work. She read 2 pieces, decidedly different in style & technique from Gary's poems. The first a stream-of-conciousness of leaping images, "Serial Confession, with Interruption" read fast, carrying us along from image to image, seemingly about the poet herself not a persona, & even quoting poet Philip Larkin at one point. Her next piece was an exploration of different texts, commissioned for "Theater of War in a House of Peace" at Skidmore College; she included the grim statistics of wars of the 20th Century (& beyond), interspersed with cold, philosophical commentary, & the names of killed soldiers & "hostiles," the piling up of words like the piling up of the war dead.

I was pleased with the different approaches of these 2 fine word-smiths for this event, giving the Summertime audience a chance to hear amid the sounds of traffic, motorcycles & helocopters the kind of sounds of words in the tradition of Robert Burns & other fine poets who have gone before.

Poets in the Park is co-sponsored by the Poetry Motel Foundation & the Hudson Valley Writers Guild, & is free & open to the public -- just bring a chair, or blanket, to sit on.

No comments: