July 25, 2014

Third Thursday Poetry Night, July 17

Another third Thursday at the Social Justice Center, with our featured poet, Susan Maurer, all the way up from New York City. I invoked the Muse, the late poet-activist Grace Paley, then on to the open mic.

Alan Casline was the first poet up with a few chronological selections from a longer poem “To & From the West,” the results of a recent cross-country drive. Mark W. O’Brien hadn’t left yet for his much-touted trip to Ireland, read “When You Think About Growing Old” from his impending chapbook from Benevolent Bird Press. Joe Krausman didn’t read one of his own poems but a poem by English publisher, poet, & philanthropist Felix Dennis (1947 - 2014), “I Just Stepped Out.” M.C. Hurd read her poem “Taken” without an introduction, a new voice/face here.

Our featured poet Susan Maurer read from her 2012 Phoenix Press International book Josephine Butler: a Collection of Poetry. Susan & I had read together in 2009 at a Bowery Poetry Club reading organized by George Wallace, a poet from Long Island who will be reading in the Poets in the Park series. She jumped around in the text to give us a flavor of the variety of themes & styles in the book, beginning with the vignette “Strolling with Salisubsilious,” then to an oblique commentary “Seashine.” Another poem about the sea was “The Secret Life of the Fishes: FL, 9/21/98,” then a descriptive poem set in Iceland, “Saga Class.” “Black Lion, 12/16/98: Nightscope” is a surrealistic account of another American invasion, & then to a poem about the sounds of demonstrations against the Republican National Convention in 2004 outside her window. She also dealt with environmental issues in a poem about the horseshoe crab. Other poems included “Yellow Wool,” “Beak Eats” about an octopus, “Little Audience,” “El Lobo” with its reference to the Back Fence bar in the Village, & the title poem “Josephine Butler” with its account of feminist heroes. Susan said later she really enjoyed her own reading because people “actually listened” — it’s what we do in Albany.

After the break I read a new poem “Medicine Buddha.” Sylvia Barnard also had a new poem on Albany history, “The Journey of the Furs.” Bob Sharkey read a descriptive account of fireworks & the blues at a holiday celebration. The final poet for the night was Jessica with a poem based on a prompt describing what she sees “From My Window.”

The third Thursday of each month is Poetry Night at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY, 7:00PM, with a featured poet & an open mic for everyone else, for a modest donation that helps pay the featured poet, supports other poetry programs in the community & supports the Social Justice Center.  Join us.

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