The Calling All Poets Series at the Howland Cultural Center in Beacon, NY is a regular monthly poetry reading & open mic & once a year they hold a marathon reading by poets who have read in the series. This year the marathon ran from Noon to 11 PM on Saturday, August 2. I made it down there for a little over half of it, including pizza at the break.
|Co-host Robert Milby|
Lynn Hoins read poems about writing poetry. Ken Holland’s poems were about weather — weather vanes, climate change, etc. David Messineo promoted his 20-year project of the history of America from 914 years ago, & his book Historioptican. Mona Toscano was part of a group within the Marathon & addition to reading her own poem that mixed in Romanian folksongs, introduced others from her writing group, Lou O’Neil, Christine Mannino & the philosophical Lawson Upchurch.
Marianna Boncek read a wonderful selection of poems inspired by her job teaching in the schools, touching stories of students & staff. Dave Kime stepped away from the mic, as he is wont to do, to declaim his loud, political/sociological commentary. Tony Pena’s urban punk poetry got the audience involved in his piece “Monte Hall & the Door of Death.” & finally the pizza arrived, for a short break before the Marathon lumbered on.
One of my favorite mid-Hudson writers, Guy Reed, read a cluster of pieces on Death, & it was worth the trip — as was the venerable poetic patriarch Donald Lev, with his characteristic self-referential ironic/humorous pieces, including one about reading in Albany at the Robert Burns statue in 2012. Ron Whiteurs is another poetic destination & tonight did only one extended piece, “To Inhale or Not to Inhale,” an auto-erotic memoir of sniffing gas in the Bronx, mixed in with fantasies of Mel Gibson.
|Co-host Glenn Werner & Wanda Shafer|
Shane Cashman’s poems were urban, TV-based & included a collage of comments on a YouTube video. Chris Wood was one of the few poets who recited a poem from memory, although he did read some of his poems. Greg Correll read his poems, from a tablet, about being a single Dad. Robert Phelps read from his chapbook, largely descriptive vignettes, including a piece that made rain political & the amusing “The Nuns at Pizza Hut.” Rosalinda McGovern read poems that sounded like jokes, often splattered with wise-cracks, such as her piece on the city of Newburgh.
To finish up the many hours of the Marathon, our co-hosts each read. First Glenn Werner read a collaborative piece, “Malcolm X,” he had written with poet Will Nixon, & then “In the Blitz” about his mother’s experience in World War II. Robert Milby drew the Marathon to a close, first reading a poem by Irish poet Michael Longley, then a selection of his own hothouse poetry, serious, intense & filled with antique language.
It was, to my mind, a grand event, exhausting I’m sure for the hosts & staff, with a good crowd of listeners & waiting/finished poets for most of the time I was there. But the best part is that CAPS continues each first Friday of the month, 8PM, $5.00, with 2 featured poets & an open mic (2 poems), at the Howland Cultural Center, 477 Main St., Beacon, NY.