January 21, 2014

Third Thursday Poetry Night, January 16

It was a night of ekphrastic poetry at the Social Justice Center, with our featured poet Amy Nelson McVeigh, to start off the new year. Our muse was the recently deceased, controversial American poet, Amiri Baraka, but the poem I read was from his earlier incarnation as poet Leroi Jones. Then on to some open mic poets.

 One of the first to arrive was a new voice & face, Kathleen O'Brien, who appropriately enough read a poem "Curse or Blessing" based on an engraving by Albrecht Dürer.  We missed Alan Catlin last month so he decided to read a poem he would've read if he had been here, as an elegy for Ed Galing (1917 - 2013), "Love in a Time of War."  Catherine Norr, who will be the featured poet here in March, gave us a sample to whet our appetite, "Seeing a Pattern," about women conversing at the supermarket. Joe Krausman read a short poem on humor & politics, on what is is & forgetting. Miriam Axel-Lute's poem was titled "Marriage Among Shape-Shifters," a meditation on what-if.

Amy Nelson McVeigh gave a rare multi-media reading here at the SJC, with a large-screen TV hooked to a laptop to show the photos taken by her husband Andrew McVeigh, while she read the short poems related to each. The order of the program was modeled after "the course of my education," she said, beginning with images of eagles from the Court House in Albany, "Symbol," then images of eagles from a WPA mural in New Jersey, "Memorial on Success." Showing images of the barn at Olana, she read "Cupola" about the color red, then yellow with the flowers of April. She read a poems while showing an image from the Albany Institute of History & Art of a sculpture of an young Indian woman "Forlorn," then a poem about a related image from Québec. The poem "Box Step, or The Rescue" was about getting a box turtle our of the middle of the road & back to the water. From a free-range chicken farm the poem "Poule Pondering" was about the proverbial chicken-crossing-the-road, then a poem about an old Packard, "A Beautiful Thing." Introducing her next poem stated a conversation about bodies being found in corn fields, then she read a poem based on a song by Jack Logan, "Sixteen Years." "Letter," was about an image of a fire-escape in North Adams, MA. Finally, a poem from a visit to Chicago, "Bean," thinking about reflections, of ourself & things around us. Amy & Andrew have also published a book of images What Time and Tempest Hold is True, words by Amy Nelson Hahn, images by Andrew P. McVeigh (Author House, 2011) & you can find more of their work at their website.

After a break we continued the open mic & I read "Paintings of Spain's Golden Age on the Curving Ramp of the Guggenheim Museum." Another of the evening's new voices/new faces was Dan Extrom who performed the song lyrics "Come Summer," a love story. Anthony Bernini read a poem titled "The Intrusion," about the fleeing birds in the forest. W.D. Clarke was back after a hiatus with a chilling, humorous Halloween ballad, "The Mausoleum." Rod Aldrich had also come back after a break, & read a poem thinking about the characters in a novel he was writing, another form of ekphrastic poetry.

You can find poetry here at the Social Justice Center 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY on the third Thursday of each month, 7:30PM, $3.00 donation supports poetry programming & the Social Justice Center.

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