October 9, 2014

Harmony Cafe Open Mic, October 6

A weekly open mic is something I don’t think I’d ever attempt, but Michael Platsky has been doing it for some time now at the Harmony Cafe on Mill Hill Road in Woodstock; he is my kind of host — he uses a kitchen timer to keep his poets in Time. I’ve read there in the past as a feature, as part of reading with military veterans Dayl Wise & Jay Wenk, & in the open mic. Tonight I was the featured poet, & pleased to see so many of my poetry buds there to cheer me on — Dayl, Jay, Alison Koffler-Wise, Cheryl Rice, Shiv Mirabito, Leslie Gerber. Sadly, Donald Lev was not feeling well & stayed home.

Our host, Michael, started off the open mic with a couple of his poems, “The Golden Thread” about holding it all together, & one from a continuing series about his obsession with Sarah Palin as a hot woman from the cold “Ramba on My Mind” — hysterical satire. Tom Romeo began with a poem about Black Holes & girls who like bad boys “Event Horizon,” then a seasonal poem of sorts in rhyme “Harvest of Souls.” Leslie Gerber read a couple of his “travelogues,” a poem, “Landscapes,” listening to the jazz pianist Marilyn Crispell, & ended with “X-Rated.” Donald Lev always reads as the 4th open mic poet, just before the feature, so tonight Michael read 3 of Donald’s poems — hey, what are friends for?

Photo by Dayl Wise
I read a mix of pieces, mostly recent, that I hadn’t read here before, starting off with a recitation of Bob Kaufman’s poem “Believe, Believe,” then my poem with the same title, an appreciation of Kaufman’s poem for the Poetry Unites project. Then on to “Trailer Park,” & the series of iterations of “Kandinsky’s Red Spot” (based on Inna Erlich’s translation into Russian), “Medicine Buddha,” “The Sestina Sestina” & the poem I read at the Upper Hudson Peace Action Awards Dinner last week “A.J. Muste.” I had a great time & the audience seemed to stay awake.

I was doubly honored when the open mic continued & Alison Koffler-Wise read her poem “Baghdad/Woodstock” that was a response to my challenge to poets to write their own versions of my poem “Baghdad/Albany.” Teresa Costa, who has been running a reading series/open mic at the Bohemian Book Bin in Kingston, announced she has found a new venue for her series, which will re-start in March, then read a poem from 1995 & the more recent “True Indian Summer.”  I missed the title of Pamela’s Twining’s poem, but it as an expansive piece in 2 parts, an homage to Jack Kerouac & thinking about if he was alive now.

Gary Siegel began with a poem titled “Dominion” then to “Profusion” about the colors & beers of Autumn, then another poem on light “Shimmer.” Then began a segment that can best be labelled as “Random Woodstock Characters” with Tom Fletcher doing a rhyming piece from memory “Time To Be Good To Me,” then Bob (“not a poet, a singer, a musician, a lyricist…” he said) with 2 lyrics from childhood, one to his mother, the other to his father, then Sylvia with “a stream-of-consciousness thing” that rambled from fixing a fence, to Johnny Cash, to Rumi. Lenny came up with a poem written today based on the tune “Autumn Leaves” (which is actually a poem by Jacques Prévert), then a poem by Emily Dickinson.

A poet calling herself “Anonymous Me” read an old poem then a new poem from different little books, & ended with a preachy piece about how women are the hope of the future (perhaps a reference back to Platsky’s Sarah Palin piece?). “Filip” (Philip Gurrieri) read a random rant mixing history & word play. Andy Clausen ended the night reading 2 pieces that had been published in New Directions 37 back in 1978.

It’s every Monday here at the Harmony Cafe 52 Mill Hill Road, Woodstock, NY, 8PM -- open mic, featured poet. It can be noisy place, depending who is sitting at the bar, but then that only adds “character” & after all it is Woodstock, isn’t it?

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