October 14, 2013

Caffè Lena Open Mic, October 2

The first Wednesday & I was back in Saratoga Springs, lots of parking spots & plenty of poetry tonight. Our 10-year host, Carol Graser, read a poem by Marie Howe to get us started then on to the open mic.

Rodney Parrott read a more playful philosophical poem that he has here in the past, about giving a foot rub & playing "this little piggy…" I followed with 2 poems for the (baseball) season, "OctoberLand" (a pastiche of T.S. Eliot's "The Waste Land") & "Baseball in Palestine." Andrew Sullivan's first poem was on the nature of humor, then a tale about "After the Irish Music Festival." Barbara Garro read from an old poetry book "July Poet" then a long series of unrelated tidbits strung together, "Quatrains." Alan Casline's poem was as the title says, "Painting Signs for the Arboretum" (where he coordinates a monthly poetry series).

 The first of the night's features was Kristen Day, the one poet/photographer who could challenge me for the title of having "the world's largest collection of photos of unknown poets." She began with a list poem, "Everyday," a funny piece about the phrases one says without thinking, then a memory of being "13, Old Enough to Stay Home with Little Brother." A series of poems explored perceptions of reality &/or what' "normal", from "Blizzard" & "To John Nash" (cf. the movie A Beautiful Mind), to "Push Pins," "3 Squirrels," "Birthmark," "Amy" (Winehouse), and "Flawed Fantasy." "Why" considered a list of most-used words, while 2 poems about her grandmother's memory loss, "Wednesday Visit on Saturday, or Sunday," & "4 Fucking Dollars" described some of the same territory in a different way. She ended, as she started, with a list poem, this about different types of poems, "Pick a Poem." It was good to hear once again a nice big chunk of Kristen's playful, thoughtful poetry.

Andy Fogle is a local poet whom I haven't heard, one with a series of chapbooks under his belt, including a recent one from Finishing Line Press, The Neighborhood We Left. He treated us to a variety of poems from various publications, including "Ripple Effect" & "The Moon, Where the Rabbit Pounds the Elixir of Immortality" (based on Chinese & Japanese folklore) from Dragon Emerging from Waves (Pudding House, 2007). Some of his poems were formed from series of short, connected pieces, such as "After Cutting Grass" & what he described as "a loving sequence." He also read a poem by his friend Mark Craver, & a poem by Heather McHugh which segued into one of his own, & a poem, "Sky Library," based on one by Thomas Lux. With such an interesting poet in the area, I hope we can hear more from him at other venues.

Our host Carol Graser read her poem "The Ironing Board," published recently in Up the River, a new journal from Albany Poets, Inc. Don Levy wasn't able to make it here last month for the 10th anniversary/tribute to Carol, so he read the poem he would've read last month, "Ten Years, a Poem for Carol," then his new pasta-hilarious screed, "Cork Screw You Barilla." Tim Snider, the resident "biker-poet," walked to the stage reciting the Halloween poem, "Little Beggars," then read his ballad-sequel, "Sully's East Revisited."

Jesse Mews recited "Let Me Write You a Poem," on living in the moment & finding peace, then an intensely performed piece on washing hands. Effie Redman has read here before & was back to read a poem by Seamus Heaney. Anthony Bernini played with the idea of leaving & staying in his poem "Day Trip,"then read an apocalyptic fantasy, "Big Box Prodigies."  A new poet here, Eric Russell, ended the night with an urban haiku, & a seasonal rhyme on Thanksgiving.

But you don't have to wait until Thanksgiving for the next Caffè Lena open mic, since it is held on the 1st Wednesday of each month, 7:30PM, here on Phila St. in Saratoga Springs, NY. Do join us.

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