Finally was able to get down to the Albany Center Galleries again on a Friday night to catch this series, hosted by Matthew Klane & James Belflower. After spilling my glass of wine all over my patient companion, I was able to settle down in the packed house to listen to the 4 featured poets. Matthew Klane introduced the first 2 readers, with his signature fractured/cut-up intros.
DJ Dolack was up first, & opened up with an a cappella song, then into poems from his new book, Whittling a New Face in the Dark beginning with a love poem "This is What They Want Me to Tell You." Then on to a series "New York City Postcards." Another poem played off the native language (Yaghan?) of Tierra del Fuego, & a long definition, but was about people getting together. New poems were about his New York City apartment & his wife, &, my favorite of the bunch, "Snow Showing the Air," a tender letter to his brother. He ended with another poem from the book, the list "Where Our Data Lives."
Jennifer Karmin has read in Albany in the past, back in 2008 in the old "Jawbone" series, & I had crossed paths with her at the Split This Rock Festival back in 2012. She began by immediately rearranging the performance space, then engaging Phillip Good into a group reading of a piece on particle physics she had written with Phillip & with Bernadette Mayer. One issue I have with so-called experimental poetic works is when they are performed without an explanation of the context or method of composition to help me get into the work on 1st hearing. Have no fear, Jennifer was good about that, explaining her 4000 words/4000 dead project on the Iraq War, reading from the end of the piece, mixing in recipes. She ended with the dread audience-participation piece, handing out cards with single words for audience members to say when & how they pleased, while she read from her long piece "aaaaaaAlice" (not sure I got enough a's in there).
After the break James Belflower took over the introductions for the final 2 readers for the night.
Paige Ackerson-Keily got votes from me & my companion for the most compelling outfit, her work was also socially engaged. She began with "This Landscape of Request" a multi-part collaboration with a visual artist, from her book My Love Is a Dead Arctic Explorer (Ahsahta Press). Her images were drawn from life & messages, strung together like automatic writing, edited to context. Another poem, "Lake Effect," was a narrative of pick-up in a bar of a man in a wheelchair. "The Pine Tree" used images of diseased pine trees being cut down to show her desire to leave Vermont, where she has been living.
Kate Greenstreet read from her "experimental memoir," Young Tambling (Ahsahta Press), jumping back & forth through the text. At one point she paused long enough to take a couple photos of the audience. The text seemed to involve a young soldier & a shooting (or was it thunder). A strange & compelling work.
This series, timed with the University semesters, offers a variety of experimental visiting writers, in the often as experimental Albany Center Galleries, 39 Columbia St., Albany, NY. For, as they say, "up to the minute event details" check out their FaceBook page.