July 23, 2013

Poets of Earth, Water, Tree & Sky, July 12

This congenial reading series is hosted by Alan Casline, who announced today's theme was "water" (I had to go pee) in honor of the featured poet, watershed protector Stephen Lewandowski.

But first the open mic poets, some of whom honored the theme, most of us not (I mean, who knew before tonight there was a theme?). Bob Sharkey began with "Libby Town" a memoir about a coastal town (water), then on to a conversation with a therapist, "The Lost Language" & it's marvelous image of 2 trees twisted together. Brian Dorn's first rhyming poem was a love poem, "High Wire," then his homage to Schenectady, "The City that Lit Up the World."

Madison Martin is also a rhymer with short poems, "Summer Storm," "Phoenix Reborn," & "The Challenger." Obeeduid also did 3 pieces, but his were longer, the first about poets being ignored ("Night Rite"), then a piece about the changes in our bodies over time, ending with a natural progression to "Compost." John Abbuhl, the host of the Pine Hollow Arboretum, began from his pocket notebook with a poem pondering if flowers know beauty, then a very short poem read twice "No One Knows," & a poem on the 4th of July "Stories by Starlight." Susan Riback made a rare open mic appearance with a list poem about a "Poet," then the wonderfully titled "Change Rooms in your Mind," & a poem responding to a poem by Yehudi Amichai.

The featured poet Stephen Lewandowski invoked the spirit of William Carlos Williams in a long, rambling introduction, then into a reading from his 1979 book Inside Out. The poems were about his grandfather, about the 1st day of hunting season, one titled "Speaking English," & about connecting to the ancient generations by finding an arrowhead in the field. A newer poem raised the issue of trees voting & invoked a former head of the Department of the Interior "What Watt?" He went on to a tribute to an Indian elder, "Watching Warren Sky Rest," then on to a series of ecology poems, "Buried in South Hill," "Poem of Preservation & Praise" (saving one of the Finger Lakes), "Orion Rising" & "Bear HIll by Starlight." He seemed surprised when his "timer" told him he was running out of time for the reading, certainly could have read more poems if his introductions weren't so epic.

After the break, Alan Casline (aka "Bird") read the hieroglyphic poem "3 Birds" then a "Look Around All You See" about standing by stream (water). Joe Krausman touched on the theme in an unexpected way with a poem on the African black fly that causes blindness, then a rhyming "The Cat." That was not enough for Alan who called hims back to read another, "Snake House." Edie Abrams contemplated the chain of being in a woodpile in her poem "Ants, they Will Be We."

It was good to see Jan Tramantano back in town & she began with a poem for her daughter Marisa who is pregnant (who once read many years ago when my third Thursday series began at Cafe Web), then a lovely little poem about the Moon & her grandson when he was 2. Tim Verhaegen explained that he talks to himself in his poems (i.e., "you") & read a piece titled "Worrying About Yourself as Usual," then one about his reactions to the death of his unhappy father, mother & brother. I had arrived too late to sign up but ended on the list anyway, but then not only didn't honor the the theme of water (who knew?), but didn't read poems about Earth, tree or sky either, instead read 2 new Coyote poems (#5 & #6) -- animals, including us humans, are a part of "Nature" too, you know. Therese Broderick read the introduction, dedication & acknowledgment to her forth-coming chapbook from Benevolent Bird Press, then Alan (the publisher) asked her to read a poem too, so she complied with "4th of July" about freeing a fly. Malcolm Willison made a rare appearance at an open mic & recited "What Do the Trees Know" -- Indeed!

This series, sponsored by the Rootdrinker Institute, the Delmar Writers Group & the Hudson Valley Writers Guild continues about once a month on Friday night at 6:30 PM at the Pine Hollow Arboretum, 16 Maple Ave., Slingerlands, NY.

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