July 28, 2014

Poets in the Park 2014, July 19

The second in this year’s series of 3 readings at the Robert Burns statue in Washington Park, Albany, NY featured poets Melody Davis, & Brian Dorn whose reading was complemented with dancers/movement artists, & the entire event complemented by an attentive audience in their lawn chairs.

Melody Davis read from her collection of poems Holding the Curve (Broadstone Books, 2013), & started with a poem about her son, “Little Big Fat Liar.” She said she had looked for & found among her poems some with a fire motif for this reading, like her poem about Boro Park, Brooklyn, “Akins’ 12th Avenue Discount Fruit & Vegetable.” Her poem “Walter, the Lawyer” which she said was “entirely true & entirely sad.” Her poems contain the images, the language of the mix of the city, such as the description of the real place in NYC “The Mill Luncheonette.” But the City wasn’t all of her poems, the villanelle “It Only Starts” was from a road trip to Tennessee, & “Sermons” responds to the memory of the light in a church in rural Pennsylvania. “Sugar,” a “crown” of 5 sonnets was another memory of her youth, of candy, of boys, pre-teen angst. She ended with the contemplative “Blessing,” also the last poem in her book. Her reading was expressive & entertaining for an evening in the park.

I had seen Brian Dorn’s multi-media program "We All" of poetry & dancers last year in Saratoga Springs so I invited him to include dancers in his reading in the park. He also included a word jumble which he invited the audience to unscramble & solve during the reading. He began appropriately enough with “Words.” Brian uses rhyme in his poems in musical, sometimes humorous patterns. Also his poems are generally short so he was able to squeeze more in. For his poem “Back in the Day,” a look at a “simpler” time, he was joined by dancer Will Dudley (“Fusion”).

Juan Soler moved to Brian’s next poem “I Need a Sign.” “Plain to See” was a poem about subtle beauty, while “Standard of Living” was a commentary on the income gap between rich & poor. Fusion was back for “Ghost Town” then Juan performed for the religious “The Love Poem.” “My Queen” used the images of a chess game in the 21st Century, then Fusion returned for the environmental poem, the ironic “A Step Forward.” “Give it a Try” was what he called a “pep-rally poem.” “Monkey Bars” was a comment on evolution, then Mark O'Brien, who hadn’t left yet for Ireland, solved the jumble — the word was “bazinga,” frequently used on the TV show “The Big Bang Theory.” “The Ends of the Earth” was another environmental poem with Fusion, followed by Amy Soler dancing with Juan to the inspirational “This Day.” “Creative Side” pondered how he got here, then he ended with the spiritual poem “Your Footsteps.”

So this was not just Poets in the Park, but Poets & Dancers in the Park on still another fine Saturday evening in Washington Park under the poetic gaze of Robert Burns.

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