December 31, 2011

My Year of the Awards

I'm not sure what astrological conjunction brought this about. Perhaps it's just living long enough, but 2011 was the Year of the Award, for me. Actually it started with the December 27, 2010 roast at the Poets Speak Loud at McGeary's, sponsored by  A.C. Everson/Breaking My Art's papier maché head from that night is still in a place of honor in my dining room.  I was about 40 when I had my first featured reading, which eventually inspired me to host an open mic (on the third Thursday, now at the Social Justice Center) at which I feature young poets (among others), often for their first featured reading, so I guess I've grown used to "late" honors -- Whatever.

As for readings this year, I was pleased to be asked to be one of the readers at the Scissortail Creative Writing Festival in Ada, Oklahoma in April.  In May, I was privileged to read with other veterans at the Kingston Universalist Congregation, then later in the month, again with fellow veterans, at the Harmony Cafe in Woodstock.  Later in the year I was part of the Puffin Poetry Jam for Peace in Teaneck, NJ with other members of Veterans For Peace.  In between I was featured with Eileen Abrizio, Jean-Yves Solinga & Elizabeth Thomas at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center in Hartford at Poets Speaking Out for Social Justice.  I also read as part of the Paterson Literary Review launch of issue #39 in November in Paterson, NJ.  In September I had an exhibit of my photos of unknown (& famous) poets at the Arts Center of the Capital Region & a photo in the Photography Center's Member Show.

All that in itself was enough accolades for an aging poet/photographer, but there was also the awards. You know, when they come like this it makes one start to look over one's shoulder for that runaway garbage truck careening down the hill, right at your back.

Early in the year I had submitted poems to the Rip Van Winkle Poetry Award run by All Arts Matter out of Greenville, NY, & won 1st prize. The award was presented in August at the Greenville Public Library.  I've been a supporter of the Solidarity Committee of the Capital District & a subscriber to their newsletter since soon after I arrived back in the area many years ago & I was thrilled to be honored at their annual Labor Day picnic with the "2011 Peace & Poetry Award … in recognition of your work for peace and for bringing poets, poetry and the people together."  Another organization that I've been proud to be a part of, have done readings & reviews for their Tuesday noon events, has been The Friends of the Albany Public Library. On December 3 I was honored by a lunch sponsored by the Friends at the University Club for the Fall Book and Author Event, then a Question & Answer session in the APL's main auditorium.  Later in the month at the Sunday Four Poetry event I received the first Arthur Dare Willis Award for my "... contribution to poets and poetry" presented by the hosts of Sunday Four, Dennis Sullivan, Michael Burke & Edie Abrams.  

The point about these last 3 awards were that they were from the community, from people whom I respect greatly for the work they do & so their recognition for my work means all the more, that it is about what we do together, how we keep the community growing. I am humbled & honored to receive these awards & hope that this recognition will keep me working, & growing. We don't work for awards, we do what we do because we feel we have to, but the awards help buoy us up during those times we question if what we do is "worth it" -- it's always "worth it" just because we do it.  Thank you to all those involved in these community organizations.

I guess with all this behind me I can now continue on undistracted with the work that needs to be done: ending the war(s), working for economic justice & freedom, & helping to create the kind of artistic/poetic community that fosters those goals -- as well as having fun, living & loving -- & writing more poems.

 Take my hand, we're all in this together!  -- Happy New Year.

December 30, 2011

Poets Speak Loud!, December 26

Attentive Wait Staff at McGeary's
Back in the backroom of McGeary's, Clinton Square, Albany, NY, on the last Monday of December or, as our host, Mary Panza, characterized it, "the post-holiday hangover edition." She herself was treating the disorder with pumpkin spice martinis & it seemed to work. There was no featured poet, but plenty of this town's fine open mic poets -- & a bad gift exchange at the end.

But first the poets, with Cheryl A. Rice playing off a water theme in a poem titled "Hot Tub," then a water bed poem, "Lake of Dreams." Joe Krausman read a piece written today for the season, "Lists" & then a poem about looking for a companion, "My Pension Won't be Enough…" Sylvia Barnard read the poem she read at the third Thursday reading, "My Grandmother's Store" & another family piece "My Grandmother's Bones." My only poem tonight was about a visit to the UC Berkeley campus, "My Sather Gate Illumination" (for my daughter Madeleine).

Tess Lecuyer read a couple of poems written for the Winter Solstice, one from 1993 about a troop of girls in tap shoes at the mall, & another about the cold solstice of 2000. Carolee Sherwood described her 2 poems as "indulgent" & "sentimental" (which sounds like descriptions for most poems), indulgent being "What to Do with the Dead in 2011" then the sentimental, for her son, "Ben Baking Bread." Thom Francis did one of the poems he performed with Murrow at the third Thursday event, "Shackle" ("…your cold embrace…").

Dain Brammage said he felt good this Xmas for the first time in many years, but attempted to read an old poem about depression, "Sometimes," but then just let it go; he is also the Slam Bastard, I mean, "Master" on the 1st & 3rd Tuesdays over across town at Valentines so performed his signature "Slam" (in essence, "it's not in the writin' it's in the recitin'").

Mojavi, after a long introduction, read an intense love/sex poem "Transforming Fear into Unconditional Love" with images of swimming & a new mind. Elizag slipped in late to read a couple of "black-out" poems, "Adult Low-Dosage Aspirin Bottle" & "Cleaning Products are More Optimistic," then read a list poem, "Magical Thinking." The last poet up was Poetyc Vyzonz reading "The Love" in the voice of god (or God).

All I will say about the bad gift exchange is that we were all hoping that Joe Krausman would try on the 3-inch brightly colored open-toed shoes (that came with a pink clutch bag long enough for a .357 Magnum), but instead he traded with Elizag for an out-of-date commemorative beer mug. Perhaps she will show up at the next Slam in those shoes ("it's not a costume, it's what I wear -- don't talk to me about it!").

Happy Holidays!!

December 27, 2011

Nitty Gritty Slam, December 20

Once again I went down to Valentine's, hoping for a slot in the Slam (&, of course, hoping to make it at least to the second round). But first an interesting open mic, where folks seem to do real poems, rather than just perform. Mojavi was the host, telling us "Twitter is where it's at."

Poetyc Vyzonz began with a preview of his in-progress CD. Tom M. did a really fine hip-hop piece, "fuck school," that probably would have done well in the Slam. (Prof.) Daniel Nester read from his memoir, "Moby Cock," how he got a C+ in America lit. (his students beware!).

A new voice/face on the stage was Kat SoPoetic, with a piece using terms from anatomy & physiology, "Anatomy & Poetry."

Another new poet was Sibie with a Xmas song & Xmas poetry. For all his snarky shenanigans as open mic host, Mojavi read a tender, gentle love poem, then capped it off with a piece on police violence.

Well, there were only 6 of us in the first round of the slam, & I was the last performer with "One Day Longer" & I still ended up on the bottom (tied with Tom M.). You can see all the scores & a summary of the event (& my purple beret) at the AlbanyPoets website. Kevin Peterson won, for the second time in a row, & once again the indomitable Shannon Shoemaker was in the money, placing 3rd.

All you Slam Champions beware -- I'll be back & if I get into the second round I will kick your ass(es), at least somewhat, whatever.

Check it out on the 1st & 3rd Tuesday of each month at Valentine's rock'n'roll emporium on New Scotland Ave. in Albany.

December 23, 2011

Sunday Four Poetry, December 18

Actually on the third Sunday this month (otherwise it would have been on Christmas Day), with its usual gathering of fine regional poets & a featured poet (Cheryl A. Rice), & a special surprise for me.  Co-hosts were Edie Abrams & Dennis Sullivan.

Philomena Moriarty with a bouquet of recently written poems, starting with memories of a feral childhood, then what it's like at a "Women's Retreat," & ending with imagining the possibilities on "Starships." I followed with the recent "What the Deer Sees" & the recently published (in Home Planet News #65) "My Last Bardo."

At that point Dennis Sullivan (our avuncular host) paused the open mic to present me with the (first) Arthur Dare Willis Award, named in honor of the venerable Voorheesville teacher, poet, "Old Testament prophet, a healer, a visionary…" As the proclamation states, "Through this award we wish to call to mind periodically poets, publishers, and presenters of poetry who have inspired us and continue to inspire us through their contributions to the art of poetry and those who practice this art in earnest… we present this award to … Dan Wilcox. We are tempted to say Albany's Dan Wilcox but we won't because he is everybody's Dan Wilcox." Needless to say I was quite honored to receive this award & humbled by the praise & kind words from folks I admire as poets & cherish as friends. Thanks! The award itself is an engraved glass disk reminiscent of a halo -- hmm?

Appropriately enough, Joe Krausman follwed this with his poem about smart people doing dumb things, then the holiday "Season's Greetings." Dennis Sullivan dedicated his poem on words & death & Eros, "All's Well that Never Was" to me, then read "Remembering Mother in Barcelona" & "One Cell Cowboy Joe," both from his new collection, In the Fields of Kingdom Come (Pajarito Cantando Press, 2011). Obeeduid, recovering from recent surgery, found a copy of the 1996 publication Many Waters, containing his poem "Unconcerned Oddly" & read it for us, followed by a tender poem about his ex, "Limbs that We Left in the House of Circe," & a recent poem "The Hole in the Stone Wall Across the Road." Howard Kogan read one of my favorite poems from his book, Indian Summer (Square Circle Press, 2011), "Uncle Jess," then a poet's poem, "Imagination."

Two of Don Levy's poems were about the history of poets & poetry in Albany, "One Night Stand in Plattsburgh" & "Local Poet on Tape", & in between the recent "The Insomniac Muse." Tom Corrado's poem "Liner Notes: Expected Gain" can be found on his Blog & he followed it with the occasional piece in humorous rhyme written for a friend's 60th birthday "I Continue to Get Older" (which I must admit beats the alternative). "Bird" (Alan Casline) began with a prayer then on to the long poem in 2 voices (with Howard Kogan as House), "House I Have to Talk to You, Bernadette Mayer Has Given Me the Assignment," followed by the very short "Impressions of People I Have Never Met."

Michael McCabe shows up at lots of poetry readings but this is (perhaps) the first time I've heard him read, an untitled piece written 9 years ago, on believing in the unseen & living in the here & now. Paula was also new to reading & read a series of haiku about her mother dying -- healing & grieving.

Stephen Leslie was the day's 2nd awardee, a medal presented by Howard Kogan, for earning 2nd place in the International Haiku contest, & reads the award-winning haiku & its extended haibun, "The Tire Swing" -- congrats Stephen! Ed Rinaldi read a poem of love & passion based on looking at a painting by Salvator Dali.

I've been a fan of Cheryl A. Rice & her poetry since first hearing her read back at the QE2 in Albany in the 1990s, & have continued to follow her work through ephemeral chapbooks & at readings throughout the Hudson Valley. She debuted a new chapbook, Coast to Coast (Flying Monkey Press, 2011)  reading the title poem. Another title poem from a forth-coming collection was the whimsical/nostalgic "My Minnesota Boyhood." I think part of the appeal of Cheryl's poetry is that even the poems without a strong narrative line have a clear beginning, middle & end that often sounds like a narrative, such as "Lake of Dreams" (musing about waterbeds, to her partner Michael), "Ashtray," or "Gold Horse Charm." "Earthquake" & (one of my persona favorites) "Taking Off Billy Collins' Clothes" have the more narrative element, but "Poets Nigh Out," combining now & then in a bar, has that feel too. She ended with a brief Xmas poem, "Blessed." I like having her chapbooks around so I can revisit these non-story stories without having to go out in the cold.

This series continues on (most) 4th Sunday's at 3PM in the Old Songs Community Center in Voorheesville, NY -- bring poems & be prepared for fine featured poets (& wonderful open mic poets as well).

December 19, 2011

Third Thursday Poetry Night, December 15

"Where is the tour bus?"  (photo by Thom Francis)
I don't usually "allow" guitar players at my poetry open mic, having in the past been too often the ugly-stepchild-of-poetry at music open mics, but tonight I had to make an exception because the unique poetry-performance duo Murrow was the featured performer. It was also the night of the annual visit from Sanity Clause. But unfortunately for Sanity Clause the tour bus full of suburban housewives couldn't find a parking spot, so most of the bad poets to sit on his lap were guys; some seemed to enjoy it more than others, hmm. There was a gift of poetry for all, of course. The muse for the night was one of my favorite poets, Enid Dame; I read her wonderful gift from 1996, "Holiday Poem."

First up for the open mic was a third Thursday regular, Alan Catlin with a look at "Moe, Larry & Iggy Pop," bar stories of fake veterans. Beatriz Loyola graciously responded to my request to read a poem in Spanish, her native tongue, with "Recuerdo infantil" by Antonio Machado (1875 - 1939), then followed it with a translation in English. Josh McIntyre was next with his brief poem "Precipitant" thinking about life, with images of protestors in the street. D. Alexander Holiday's "This Involuntary Leave of Absence as Punishment Routine" continues the saga of his last book Emails from Satan's Daughter.

Gene Damm read a short poem, "Motivation," from his book Guanyin and other poems (The Troy Book Makers, 2009). Joe Krausman's full poem was titled "Half." Bob Sharkey returned with "Surveillance," another poem in his self-imposed 64-word form.

Thom Francis (word) & Keith Spencer (guitars) have been performing as Murrow long enough for many of us have our own favorites that we are glad to hear over again in performances. But Murrow is fluid enough to bring in some new pieces too. Starting with a favorite, "Trucker," they caught our attention, then on to the sad "Shower." Other pieces included "Smile," "New Day," "Shackle" & "Gone." But in between a cover of a piece by Henry Rollins, "I Know You." They ended with the crowd pleaser "Female Pedestrian." A good set & I'm glad I let in the guitars.

After the break I continued another annual tradition by reading "Christmas Eve, 1945." W.D. Clarke read a spoof about a visit from the Queen to a special royal outhouse, "The First Seat."

(Photo by Thom Francis)
Screamer's poem was a love poem portrait of her & her boyfriend's opposite tendencies. Sylvia Barnard supplemented her poem "My Grandmother's Store" by passing around a century-old photo of her grandmother behind the counter of the store.

Daniel Nester read axioms, aphorisms, commandments, etc. from "The Book of Dan" (his, not mine). Anthony Bernini gave a taste of his featured reading right here next month with "The Sirens" from Immediate Worlds (The Troy Book Makers, 2011). ILLiptical (last month's feature) did a poetic tribute to the singer Sam Cooke, using titles & lines from his songs. Kevin Peterson (SBT) read his piece "Coin Flips" from 2 columns of slim lines on a yellow legal pad. Avery was the night's last poet with "Reichenbach's Mistake," written, as he said, as an angry young philosopher.

Dan Nester is enjoying this too much.
(Photo by Thom Francis)
Each poet who read went home with a gift of a book or magazine of poetry & the pleasure of having sat, albeit for a brief moment, on the lap of Sanity Clause -- &, as everyone knows, there is no Sanity Clause.

But there is a Third Thursday Poetry Night every third Thursday of the month at 7:30PM at the Social Justice Center in Albany, NY. A modest donation supports poetry events & the work of the Social Justice Center. Bring a poem to read.

December 16, 2011

Live from the Living Room, December 14

Our cozy host, Don Levy, welcomed a tidy audience for the monthly open mic on the 2nd Wednesday -- & it really was, even if the third Thursday was the next day, ah the shifting calendar.

But first the featured poet, Barbara Ungar, read, not from her books, but all new work, still in typescript, beginning with the title poem, "Bashō Was a Ninja" on the secret lives of poets. But the title of the new collection isn't firmly set yet, so she read the other potential title poem, "I Feel Bad for Anne Boleyn" (Perhaps other titles she might consider could be "I Feel Bad for Bashō", or "Anne Boleyn Was a Ninja"). Then on to a poem about watching Brigadoon, & the ole professorial stand-by, "On a Student Paper Comparing Emily Dickinson to Lady Gaga." The poem "Rosh Hashanah 5771" celebrates the birthday of the universe. Dylan Thomas' villanelle "Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night" is one of those poems (over)taught in schools, a bit over-blown & sententious, but Barbara's re-write for her father, "Against Dylan Thomas," softened the edges into something more human. Her final poem, "Things do not Look as Dismal as They Did" took its title from numbered messages for telegraph delivery & was an abcd poem based on a list of endangered species. I, for one, look forward to seeing these poems gathered into a book, whatever it's ultimate title.

Then, as is the custom here in the Living Room, we proceeded on to the open mic. I was first up with 2 recent poems inspired by the poetry of other local poets, "What the Deer Sees," & "That Apparition (for Dennis Sullivan)." Bob Sharkey read a piece from a visit to Portland, OR "Taming the Rogue" then one of his 64 word experiments, this a prose piece, "Beside the Rental" included a character from his long serial piece "Sustenance."

Jalani Willis showed up unprepared to read, but found a short piece on starting a new day -- & it was her first time reading! Robert Eden also wasn't prepared to read but called up one of his Blog entries on his laptop, an impressionistic piece on walls & mirrors based on his research he his doing about a psychiatric hospital.

Our host, Don Levy, read 2 very recent poems (you can find them both on his Facebook page), "Gossip 101" & "The Insomniac Muse."

Check out this casual, intimate reading & open mic at the Pride Center of the Capital Region, 332 Hudson Ave., Albany, 2nd Wednesday of each month.

December 8, 2011

Caffè Lena Open Mic, December 7

After a miserable drive up on the Northway (heavy rain & traffic), at least there was a nice dinner with "the ladies" at Ravenous, then on to the open mic, for a respectable crowd in spite of the weather. Our host, Carol Graser, set the tone by reading Joy Harjo's poem, "Anniversary."

The first open mic poet was Gigi Devons with 2 poems in rhyme & 4-beat lines, "Fields of Flame" & the second sounding like she's read a lot of Poe. Carole Kenyon brought the rhyming into the 21st Century with a hip-hop tale, "Lounge Lizard Smack Down." Kate McNairy began with a poem about a suicide, "This World Was Not Enough," then "a hot one," as she described it, "Wet Bodies." Josh McIntyre's first poem was a short piece, "When Even a Song Won't Inspire," then he read "Gleanings" in which he considered the patterns of life.

This was a night of (poetry) virgins, as you will soon see, & the night's first was Laura Grillo, whose poems in rhyme were both about surviving, "Run" (on surviving by being yourself), & "Someday That Man Will Lose" (on not being beaten down). W.D. Clarke's studied rhymes are in the ballad forms of Robert Service & Rudyard Kipling & tonight's poem was a true family tale of where a woman's ashes were buried, "The Old Bean Pot." Andrew Riddles was the night's 2nd virgin, with another tale in rhyme about an airplane crash & a man losing his teeth, "Overbite (or "Thit?)" [say it out-loud].

There were 2 featured poets tonight, the 1st being Judith Prest who read mostly from her new collection of poems, Late Day Light (Spirit Wind Books, Duanesburg, NY). Her poems are characteristically accessible, direct statements, often about herself, such as "Summer 1966, Vietnam Conflict Escalates," or "Questions." There were frequent dramatic monologues as in "Immigration Clinic…" or "Cinderella Rants to Her Granddaughters," even some in the voice of animals, "Skunk," & "Crow." She looked back to all the girls & women in her family who came before in "You Are Here." She ended with a small group of new poems, "November Garden," "Wardrobe Alchemy" (for her mother), & from a poetry therapy workshop, "Naming the Scar."

Jan Tramontano read some of her poems from the forthcoming Paternal Nocturne (Finishing Line Press), a series based on her grand-father's letters home to his family when he was working in upstate New York in the early part of the 20th century. Some are in the grandfather's voice ("Travails") or based on notes he made on reading Spinoza. Others are in her voice, as in "A Child's Memory," or her letter to him, "Letter 2011." Finishing Line Press likes to get a bunch of pre-orders before issuing their books, so if you want to order a copy got to the website. She capped her reading off with a short segment from her recently self-published novel Standing on the Corner of Lost and Found.

After the break Carol Graser read her poem "The Calculator" in which the calculator becomes a poet after booze is spilled on it -- pretty funny. Cecele Krause read from her Finishing Line Press book Tuscaloosa Bypass, "To a Would Be Writer of Short Stories," & a poem about the Klan, "Melissa & Jimmy."

Reichi, another virgin poet, explained that he didn't like being called "Ritchie": too "itchy;" he had 2 poems in short line meters & rhyme, one for his granddaughter, "Ella Blakely," & written after reading a biography of Joan Baez. Bob Preuss' poem "While in Peru" was written here in Caffe Lena while listening to all the poets that came before him. Andrew Sullivan's untitled piece started out on the premise that Paul Simon would be dead someday & spun out from there, including comparing the Holy Ghost to Zeppo Marx. I followed with 2 uncharacteristic suburban animal poems, inspired by the work of my poetry peeps, "Coyote III" & "What the Deer Sees."

Jodi Frank was back after a too-long absence with a 20-year old poem, "Love's Criterion," then the in-many-ways tender "Death After Editing a Business Report." Kathe Kokolias read an essay, ahem, I mean a "prose poem," the hilarious "In Praise of My Bum" from her collection of essays, Spandex & Black Boots (The Troy Book Makers, 2009). I think this was Terry Royne's first time at Caffe Lena; she began with an introspective pantoum, "Deep Inside," then to a poem about her daughter & granddaughter working in the garden, "Fertility."

The night's final virgin, Amanda Fleming, had arrived with friends who read & had no intention to read, then wrote a poem while sitting here (2nd poet tonight to do this, to see above), descriptive & imagistic. Barbara Garro had 2 December poems, both prosaic narratives, "Reunion" & "Blind Date." Ellen Finn finished off the night with 2 angry poems, one about the failure of her pens, paper & computer to make a poem, "A Writer's Nightmare," then "Bad" in which she excoriated her Karma, perhaps an appropriate way to end.

More wonderful variety -- new voices/faces, regulars, & the occasional drop-in. The number of rhymers tonight, particularly among some of the younger poets, made evident the perhaps unfortunate influence of the kind of poetry taught in schools, song-like rhymes & short 4-beat lines, stuck in the 19th Century or the early 20th century (in the homey style of Edgar A. Guest, for example), that gets reinforced by rhyming children's books & greeting card verse. Many young poets begin this way, but today's young poets need to raid the Library for the 20th century poets (or Whitman) who got us out of that rut for examples of modern idioms & then find their own, authentic voice in the 21st century.

Every 1st Wednesday at Caffé Lena on Phila St. in Saratoga Springs, NY, $3.00, at 7:30PM.

December 7, 2011

Nitty Gritty Slam, December 6

Judge & Score Keepers Adding it Up
As the most documented reading in Albany (or elsewhere) my comments are a bit superfluous, but then no one else has my opinions (or cares about them for that matter). Plus I got there late.

Poetyc Vyzonz was just coming off the stage before a smallish audience & even smaller field of slammers (4-4-2) tonight. The other contestants were Shannon Shoemaker, Elizag & Kevin Peterson performing as Succulent Baby Toes.  In spite of Kevin/SBT's 30 in the first round, the better poems of the night were Elizag's "Meatball," a continuing commentary, & Shannon's second round poem beginning "My name is Shannon Shoemaker, I don't do slams…". Although I also rather liked SBT's final round piece on religions & living in the moment, albeit somewhat formulaic.

It should be noted that Shannon has finished in the money in 6 of the 7 Slam's she has participated in & seems like a "shoe-in" for the Slam team if the organization decides to go on the road.

Check out the detail here.

It happens on the 1st & 3rd Tuesday of each month, at Valentines rock 'n' roll emporium on New Scotland Ave., in Albany, NY with open mic at 8:00pm, slam about 8:30pm, $5 which supports the prize money.

December 2, 2011

Poets Speak Loud!, November 28

as we often do. & as usual on the Last Monday at McGeary's Mary Panza was the whip-cracking host. Before the featured poet, we dove into the open mic, a sea of poets tonight.

I started it off with an old poem, "Belle du Jour," that mentions Ted Adams, then on to the brand-new "Coyote III." Introduced by Mary Panza as "very black [in his attire] & very smelling good" Ed Rinaldi started off with a short day/night piece then into a poem about his ex, "Breakfast at Stravinksky's Bed of Nails." Dain Brammage read from his smart-phone his poems "Damage Control" & "One Good Day" (which he is saving, hour-by-hour, in a blue box). Don Levy read his 2 new memoir poems, "Newsprint" about his father, & "Homewreck" (home ec v. shop). Mojavi ("Lord of UGT" per Mary Panza) also read his poems from his phone, beginning with a bit of surrealism & revolution, "Unconcious Explosion Inspired by Fate," then with background music from a 2nd phone, a tender, love-lost poem about an ex.

Kevin Peterson was the night's featured poet, with his new-grown mustache (actually, as friend once pointed out, one does not grow a mustache, one just doesn't stop it from growing), started by reciting Def-poetry performer Steve Connell's "Compromise." He continued in the same vein, this time a monologue to a lover, "Tonight is the Night," & a monologue, of sorts, "For the Twinds," half of whom were in the audience. Next he read a series of short, aphoristic pieces, not quiet haikus, on art, poetry, & fucking & drinking. Actually, fucking & drinking (or other drugs of choice) was the theme for the rest of the night's poems, memories of teen-age black-outs, his brother cooking crack, the traditional Wednesday-night before Thanksgiving partying, the sadness of "Saratoga on a Wednesday" after track season, STDs, to the cynical inventory of a hang-over diner breakfast with last night's not-so prize score. The conclusion of the pondering of the question of poems versus dancing & debauchery in "A Good Day" was to burn your poems (which at times has seemed the right choice to me too). While Kevin is a facile performer of his own (as well as others') poems, he was not well-prepared, having to ask the key question, "How am I doing on time?" (To which he received the time-honored standard response, "2 more.").

Described by our host as "a single girl in the big city," Carolee Sherwood read 2 sections from her November long poem, working through (what else?) relationships. Elizag recited a poem about memories of fishing with her father, then faltered (happens to us all) when trying to recall the companion, hunting poem (next time). Joe Krausman read a parable of "Good Government," then a poem contrasting the end of the world with the quotidian, "Panacea."

A new face & voice was Lou Rehder, with 4 haikus, then a portrait of a woman in his poem "Tower." Another new reader, Terry Rooney, read a grim, over-wrought poem "The Suburbs in Wartime." RM Englehardt unfortunately broke his reading glasses on the bus on the way down here, but persevered; he began with "See it Through" by early 20th Century poet Edgar A. Guest (bet you thought I was going to say Edgar A. Poe!), whose turgid style still exerts a lingering influence on young poets just starting out, then his own "Under the Hunger Moon," a response to the Occupy movement.

"Inspirational poet" Poetic Visionz was another having trouble remembering his poems tonight, ending "The Two of Us" too soon, then reverting to his signature piece "Upside Down Inside Out" when he couldn't bring up the poem he had wanted to perform (next time).

Leslie Michelle has no such trouble, reading her poems from her handwritten notebook; "He Loves to Hate Her" was written on the bus about someone who can't let go, then a list poem written coming here tonight about missing Summer -- ah yes, do we have to go through Winter again?

Come to McGeary's the last Monday of most months for this open mic sponsored by, 7:30PM. Good food, efficient service, cold beer, warm hearts.