March 25, 2014

Third Thursday Poetry Night, March 20

In the spirit of this being the beginning (allegedly) of Spring, to start off the night I recited my favorite Spring poem, e.e. cummings' “In Just Spring —“. Then on to the open mic, with a full-slate already signed up.

First up, as he often is, was Alan Catlin, who read a St. Patrick’s Day poem taking him back to his days as a bartender in an Irish bar in Albany, the harrowing “Work-Anxiety Dream 10 Years After.” It was good to see Laura Hartmark back again after many months, she read a piece about grocery shopping & bargaining in an Arabic market in Brooklyn, “6 Cents Less.” Ginny Folger has been here before but this was her first time reading, a short Winter poem “Half-way Through February."  Alan Casline did a poem of “spontaneous verse” the 13th Chorus from his book of blues experiments. Mark W. O’Brien (formerly known as “Obeeduid”) has been invited to read at a poetry festival in July in Fermoy, County Cork in Ireland, so of course read an Irish-inspired piece, “The Hubris of a Pint of Plain.”

Our featured poet was Catherine Norr, promoting her new poetry chapbook Return to Ground (Finishing Line Press, 2014). Catherine has been active in the local literary scene for a number of years & served on the Board of the Hudson Valley Writers Guild. She’s also a singer & musician, so began her set with a little a cappella blues, oh yeah. The first section of her book is about growing up in New Orleans & she read “Spring After Teasing,” “Mississippi Riverside Chat,” “Color Barrier,” then “First Frost” about her father. From the second half of the book, “The Noise of Life,” she read “Return to Ground,” “The Fox and the Divorcee,” “Love Song,” “Class Reunion,” & “Awakening and All That Jazz.” Then a new poem, “Out the Back Window on a Winter Day,” about a cardboard box being blown across her frozen yard.  It was a pleasant set of poems & a good introduction to the book, if you don't have it.

After the break I read one of my poems from the poetry workshop with Bernadette Mayer, “The Fence.” Don Levy’s poem was straight (not sure if that’s the appropriate word, perhaps “gayly”) out of the morning sports pages, “98 - For Jason Collins.” Jessica was back to brave the mic with a poem titled “Old Piano.” Brian Dorn’s lines in rhyme “Whatever Will Be” were about rain. Bob Sharkey brought the night to a close, sounding very Joycean with a poem based on an over-heard conversation, “How He Regarded Her.”

Join us each third Thursday at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY for an open mic with a featured reader. Just $3.00 donation that helps pay the featured poet & supports poetry in Albany & the SJC.

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