July 19, 2015

Poets of Earth, Water, Tree, & Sky, July 10

& words — before & after the featured poet, Alan Catlin. The host/MC was Alan Casline (that’s not a typo).

Now, I arrived when there were 4 or 5 poets signed up for the open mic, but the #1 slot was still open — reminded me of the old days at the QE2 — I read my poem “Arts Festival, Delray Beach” inspired by Alan Catlin’s book of poems Alien Nation (March Street Press, 2011), then a bar poem “Jim Morrison.” Bob Sharkey read a poem by the recently deceased James Tate, then the descriptive “Bus.” Tim Verhaegen handed out copies of his 2 poems, the “portrait of a memory” “Summer Nights in Amagansett,” & the edgy & humorous “Cats & People.”

Paul Amidon read a tale of a flood titled “Old George” then the childhood Little League memoir “Play at the Plate.” Tom Corrado read a poem he wrote for his birthday with the help of a computer algorithm using 70 lines randomly chosen from his poems. Mark W. (O’Brien) began with “Redemption” a poem based on an Irish proverb (does it matter which one?), then a poem about an old TV program, & another “Reclusion” on an old house that had once stood at the conjunction of routes 85 & 85A.

Alan Casline introduced Alan Catlin by reading from his his 1980 chapbook Joyce in Hades: A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man. Catlin countered by reading his most recent 2 poems, “The Open Mic Poet Who Reads in Arabic…” & a portrait of a passenger on the Schenectady bus “Jesus is Loved.” He followed that with some poems from a trip to England, including one at Thomas Hardy’s cottage, & a couple from the Hepworth Sculpture Garden. Alan’s new book is Beautiful Mutants from NightBallet Press & he read the grim “Wasted” (observations on jury duty), & the equally grim “Death in the Afternoon on Becker St.” He said his new book scheduled to come out next year, American Odyssey, contains poems on artists & he read a couple responding to Mapplethorpe photos & one based on a Ralph Steadman cartoon. He ended with a couple poems from a work-in-progress based on movies, with the working title “Hollyweird.” There’s always new work from Alan Catlin, & his new book Beautiful Mutants continues his saga of gritty urban tales.

After a break Joe Krausman continued the open mic with the ironic “Vacation” (no matter where we go we can’t get away from ourselves), & “Born Loser” in the voice of the wife of a compulsive gambler. Sally Rhoades read a poem written in Union Square NYC watching someone “Walking the Dogs,” then a poem about the full moon. A.C. Everson’s 2 poems were about children, one for her granddaughter’s 2nd birthday, the other “Under the Sun” a naming game poem.

Although she is used to being on stage as singer, performer this was only Sybil Alison’s 2nd time reading her poetry, which were her song lyrics, “Dead of Winter” (homeless on the Upper East Side), “The Audacity of Hope” (another social justice piece), & the more personal “I Saw You.” Our host Alan Casline read a piece titled “Want the Warrior Not the Wound,” then a poem using William Blake’s 4 visions applied to the Tawasentha, & an old poem about the Sun, wind, a bird & his notebook “Burning.” Jessica Rae ended the evening with a new poem in-progress “Trees & Memories,” & a poem where a “Magical Blue Heron” is a messenger.

It was another fine evening of poetry among the trees of the Pine Hollow Arboretum, Slingerlands, NY. Usually a featured poet & an open mic for the rest of us.

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