May 5, 2015

Yes!, April 24

This was the last Yes! reading of the season, at a new venue, The Brakes Coffeehouse & Provisions on Lark St. Matthew Klane did the intros while James Belflower manned the live-streaming camera.

Emily Mitchell Ayers, owner of The Brakes welcomed us, talked about their new business, about trying to create a relaxed cafe setting with a vegan menu. It was founded with the intention to motivate and empower people to reduce their carbon footprint on the planet to stabilize the global climate. Have your coffee & help the planet too, I guess.

The first reader was Chris Schlegel who read from a sequence of poems he hadn’t read out before, a string of short poems that all seemed to be of about the same length. With titles like “Transfer Station,” “The Evening Redness in the West,” “Bob’s Morning Company” (somehow related to Antonioni’s film The Passenger), & “Not Berry Farm Molly” the pieces were like daily notes about his feelings & thoughts & what was going on outside (sounds like a definition of most poetry), short phrases, but read quite flatly.

Sarah Deniz Akant began with a poem for Matthew which imitated his fragmented, breathless style in his own readings & in his introductions at these readings. She read from a sequence from her first full-length collection Babette, forthcoming from Rescue Press. Some of the poems were done from memory, all untitled, fragmentary & enigmatic. & what was Cheburashka doing in there?

The final reader was Tony Mancus, who began with a poem written today based on a photo of Civil War enactors outside Ford’s Theater on Washington, D.C. Then on to fragmentary, perhaps descriptive, pieces published in the Seattle Review, & others from loose pages, all without giving titles, if indeed any of his work had titles. His descriptive poems are distant, cold, as if viewing a scene in a coffee house, & read in a flat, unexpressive style, about as far from slam/performance poetry as one can get while still talking.

This series typically brings experimental poets to the venues of Albany, helping to keep the scene varied & challenging, it’s own kind of diversity to the mix. But they are taking the Summer off, & will be back in the Fall.

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