October 15, 2014

Sunday Funday Reading Series, October 12

This day turned out to be a poetry double-header for me. The open mic in Troy (reported in my Blog) ended early enough & this reading at The Low Beat started late enough for me to be at both. I even had time to socialize & hug Susan Brennan, former Albany poet now in Brooklyn. This series is run by the folks at Pine Hills Review, faculty & students at the College of St. Rose. Today’s theme was “Learn to Read,” authors reading from works that inspired them, & at times their own work as well. Poet Samson Dikeman served as Master of Ceremony (& he was too).

Lucyna Prostko was the 1st reader, with poem by Czeslaw Milosz (1911 - 2004) read in Polish, then in English translation, then her own tribute poem “After Milosz.” She also talked about the poet Denise Levertov (1923 - 1997), then read a dream poem inspired by her reading, “Two Friends with the Landscape of the Imagination.”

Jessie Serfilippi talked about being inspired by the poetry of Gretchen Primack to write animal-rights poems & read one by Primack. I’ve seen Jessie perform her work at poetry open mics in town & wished she had read one of her own poems too!

Jesse Calhoun followed with a long, dense, tedious reading from the 1850 book The Law by Frederic Bastiat, no time, apparently, for his own work.

By contrast Shira Dentz read only her own work from the recently released door of thin skins (Cavan Kerry Press), described as “A hybrid of poetry, prose, and visual elements, … a tale that unfolds in a psychotherapist’s and a state prosecutor’s office and the mind of the poet regarding it all.” She read a couple sections, “The Porch,” “Hands,” others, the text often deconstructing along the way. She said this was her first reading in Albany in a bar setting — she needs to get out more.

Susan Brennan also has a new book out, numinous (Finishing Line Press),  which I had purchased a few weeks ago & like a lot — urban &, well, numinous. She began by reading Frederico Garcia Lorca’s “Sleepless City (Brooklyn Bridge Nocturne)” then on to section 7, a long prose poem, from her poem “Night Walk.”

Daniel Summerhill is another young poet who has made appearances on the local poetry scene. He read from a notebook a high school teacher gave him to inspire him to write, then from a poem inspired by the work of Langston Hughes. He ended with a recent poem, inspired by the music of Santana, “Bennie’s Blues.”

Barbara Ungar’s inspirations were many. She began with “My First Address,” then the title poem from Charlotte Bronte, You Ruined My Life (The Word Works, 2011), as well as “Only Emily” (Charlotte’s equally talented sister), & “Midsommer.” She ended with a crowd-pleaser from her forth-coming book Immortal Medusa “Athena’s Blowjob.”

The final poet, Jackie Craven, said she is inspired by reading Charles Simic, read his “In the Library,” then her own library poem “Priority Mail.” Then broadening the theme she read a poem about learning to read as a late-bloomer, & a piece (“Auto-corrected”) using the errors of auto-correct to write a poem any Dadaist would be proud of.

This mini-series continues for a couple more Sundays at The Low Beat — check it out at The Pine Hills Review.

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