April 14, 2014

Poets of Earth, Water, Tree and Sky, April 11

Now that the snow is gone (?) & we can park on the lawn of the Pine Hollow Arboretum it means it’s the start of this year’s series Poets of Earth, Water, Tree and Sky sponsored by Rootdrinker Institute & hosted by Director Alan Casline. The featured reader was Martha Deed, but first the open mic.

& I was first on the signup sheet, & I read an older piece “Now, Listen” & my poem/tribute essay to Bob Kaufman’s “Believe, Believe” (April 18 is Bob Kaufman Day). Joe Krausman began with a piece that re-worked the Scriptures (perhaps in honor of the impending Passover holiday?), then a piece on the magazines in the check-out lines at Super-Markets “Mixed Messages,” & a short poem from memory exhorting us to “jump in.” Tim Verhaegen regaled us with another hysterical piece about his family, this about a phone conversation with his twin “Oh Brother You Are Such an Asshole.” Mark O’Brien read a collaboration he wrote with Tom Corrado, “How the Sky was Empty,” then a memoir piece “Portrait of the Poet as a Young Man, Circa 1971,” & a poem reacting to the tragic industrial explosion in Texas last year, “April Has Been Cancelled.” Thérèse Broderick read a poem inspired by a flower theme park in Dubai, “More Real Than a Mirage.”

Thérèse’s husband, Frank Robinson, read 2 poems from his new book, Love Poems, “The Poetry is You” & “Thérèse 5.1”. Nice to see Thérèse blush. Susan Kayne was new here, introduced herself as a former breeder of horses who is now an animal (horse) rights activist & her poem was the tragic story of “An Average Colt’s Life.”

The featured poet Martha Deed drove here from Western New York. She read a varied set of poems dealing with Nature, politics, references to & experiments with other poets, & even some humor thrown in. “Housatonic Sam” was a funny poem about a coyote howling at 4AM for social justice, while “Visiting a Rattlesnake Farm” was set in Crawford, Texas, home of “W” Bush. “Mining Boots Just In” was about a stop on a road trip in Kentucky, then reworked under the influence of John Cage. Another poem mixed lines from a speech by “W” with her own lines; she also collaged lines from a poem by her daughter, about her daughter’s experience interviewing for the NSA. Other poets referred to were Adelaide Crapsey & James Tate. She also read a couple poems from her project to write 65 poems for age 65. She ended with a moving piece about a conversation on a Paris train, “The Wounded Man at War…” covering loss & poetry readings. A nicely put together reading of poems in a variety of styles & subjects.

After a break, Sylvia Barnard read a poem, “Cycling through Denmark” based an a childhood story a friend told her. Sue Riback drew on her daily work in a nursing home for a couple poems, one a list of characters, the other focused on a couple still together after 60 years, then “17th Century Flu Season” consisting of a list of remedies that would make you wish you hadn’t eaten during the break. Edie Abrams read a bouquet of post-retirement poems, “Who Am I?” “My First Day at Hebrew School” (as a volunteer) & “It’s Magic” (her experience reading for the RISE program). Alan Casline read as the last poet what he described as “some Thursday night poems,” a poem about a morning walk with the dog “Snowfall Mounds the Yard” & a bit of parataxis “Mountain Sky Bird.” (Parataxis, is that when your dinner party is so big you have to call 2 cabs?)

This series, held at the Pine Hollow Arboretum Visitor Center 16 Maple Ave., Slingerlands, NY, 6:30PM, continues on Fridays roughly a month apart through November.

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