July 7, 2015

Poets Speak Loud!, June 29

With our usual host, Mary Panza, on the beach, & Thom Francis (il papa) home with his daughter, I was called upon to be the guest host for this monthly open mic, & to present tonight’s featured poet(s), the 2015 Nitty Gritty Slam Team. It was quite a full house with not only candidates for the open mic but a number of folks here just to listen (& enjoy the good food & drinks). Our server tonight was the terribly young & wonderfully pretty & efficient Chelsea.

Sylvia Barnard led us off with a poem to her daughter “Siobhan in Washington Park Age 16” then a piece she described as an “anti-4th-of-July poem.” Adam Tedesco described his first poem “White Mountain Ranges” as a “trans-contemporation,” then read “Clouds” based Diane DiPrima’s Revolutionary Letters. Jessica Rae (who will be the featured poet at Poets Speak Loud! in July!) read an older poem “North & South of the Border,” followed by her song, an eco-poem written as a song, that she read rather than sang, “Bomb Trains.”

Robb Smith comes to more readings than he reads at, but tonight read an excerpt from a longer prose piece, this part of a forth-coming memoir that included Brancusi’s “Endless Column,” Wilhelm Reich, & Dylan Thomas. Joe Krausman found in his archives a couple of poems with drawings on the page, “Life is a Movie,” & “Counterpoint.” Steve Minchin read about writing (or not writing) poems, “Watching No Love Poems,” then what he described as an untitled, old piece. Julie Lomoe, was selling her brand-new novel, a soap-opera vampire thriller Hope Springs Eternal, & read a dialogue poem “Me & My Shadow.”

The Nitty Gritty Slam Team, tonight’s collective featured poets, did a mix of individual pieces & group pieces, giving the audience a representative taste of what they will be bringing to the National Slam competition in Oakland, CA in August. Amani was the first up with an angry poem considering “rats” in various forms, dedicated to “activists who find themselves weary at times.” Daniel Summerhill read from his new chapbook Brown Boys on Stoops a poem for his grandfather “Folk Tales” (unfortunately he didn’t have any copies with him to sell, but you can order it here). Elizag followed with a poem about her mother & choices “Coin Toss.” Poetyc Visionz likes to do performance pieces using numbers as the trope, this one numbering clouds & dreams & about taking care of yourself.

The team (P.V., Elizag & Daniel) tried out a group piece that is still in draft, about how we lump people together on appearances but how different we are inside, unseen. Amani did an individual a piece I’ve heard a couple times (don’t know if it has a title) dedicated to her grandmother, about her roots & food & color. Daniel also did a piece I’ve heard before, “Ode to Elijah,” a nephew with autism, playing on different meanings of “fighting.” Elizag & Amani then practiced a Elizag’s funny piece “Dear Young People” with the young guys chiming in. Then Poetyc Visionz was back with his piece bouncing off the number 7.

It was good to hear those folk in a non-competitive setting, where for some reason their poems while retaining the energy & confrontation of Slam also seemed to speak more from the heart. Go to AlbanyPoets.com to find out how to support the Nitty Gritty Slam Team’s trip to the Slam Nationals.

Being the host for tonight I invoked the droit de seigneur & read next, appropriately (or in-appropriately) enough, my “Slam Poem.” Sally Rhoades read her moving poem to her father “The Sky is My Witness,” then a poem from 2008 “Roadside Poppies.”

A new face & voice, Carrie Czwahiel, had arrived early & was patiently waiting to read a defiant memoir about being a preacher’s daughter, then a profile rant for a dating site, stating how it is. Karen Fabiane read a couple poems from her 2nd chapbook Seeing You Again (Grey Book Press, 2014), the outrageous “I Fucked St. Joan,” & the title poem from the chapbook.

Annie Sauter read a long piece (but in big print), a memoir, Beat narrative set in the mid-Hudson region, tossing pages on the floor as they were done, “He Sent Her A Thank-You Text.” Jesse Hilson was another new voice here, began with a series of advice aphorisms for absurdist situations, then a strange piece from his college days, from porn to iconoclasm “The Fugitive Completeness.” Ed Yetto was our last reader, just bringing along his journal, the first piece an untitled “something,” then an equally untitled, unedited notebook ramble just written — it’s an open mic, you read anything!

Poets Speak Loud! happens the last Monday of the month at McGeary’s, an open mic with a featured poet, starting thereabouts 7:30PM. Always good food, refreshing drinks, great service (thank you Chelsea!) — & poetry! Where have you been?

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