August 9, 2015

Poets Speak Loud!, July 27

When I arrived early for happy hour & dinner at McGeary’s, I could hardly make my way to the bar, it was SRO, & I thought, “Wow, Jessica Rae, the featured poet, is really packing them in.” But, alas, it was just a pre-show crowd for a concert at the nearby Palace Theater. By the time it was ready for poetry, the crowd had cleared out, the regulars at the bar were happy, & we Poets had the backroom to ourselves.

Mary Panza was the host once again, & had signed me up first while I was having dinner at the bar with Joe K. I remembered the 70th anniversary of the first test of the Atomic Bomb in July 1945 with a poem written for the 50th anniversary, “Cleanse this City,” then the epithalium written for Jack & Haley’s July wedding. Sylvia Barnard, with unnecessary apologies for reading this wonderful poem yet again, read “Siobhan in Washington Park Age 46,” then a poem written this AM that no one had heard yet about the recent readings at the Robert Burns statue “Poets in the Park” (Thank you, Sylvia!). Joe Krausman’s first poem was set at the New York State Museum “River Blindness,” then a piece about needing a “nurse-editor” for his body & his work.

Steven Minchin, who will be the featured poet in August, began with a surreal story of a train & a shredder, that if it had a title I missed it, followed by “Grand Marshall We’re Lost” where he can’t remember last night. Brian Dorn did 2 familiar pieces, “Plain to See” & “From My Poems to Yours.” Elizag/Elizabeth Gordon performed “Why I Went to My Family’s July 4 Gathering …” a list poem confronting racism & violence in America.

This was Jessica Rae’s first featured reading. I’ve been hearing her poems, tentative at first then more bold & assertive, over the last couple of years at open mics in the area & was pleased to be here to for her 1st full-length reading. She ran through a variety of her themes, personal, political & just plain poetical, beginning with the rhymed, anaphoric “What Is Poetry?” Then some poems about self-image & how/what we present to the world, “What Do You Do?,” “Identifying Me,” & “The Parts of Me that Write Poetry.” Then an interesting architectural experiment “Small.” Sliding into a series of rants she began with the grumpy personal “Hot Summer Night” then a piece aimed at those who have undermined her “My Confidant,” the similar “Don’t Be Foolish,” & the break-up poem “It’s Permanent” (“… you fucked up, … it’s too late”). She then read poetic list of tulips in the park, & on to the poetry version of her protest song “The Rape of Our Mother.” She ended with more rants, but these tempered by humor, “Cupid is Stupid” & the Dr. Seuss-inspired “I Am Not Your Thing.” Well done, Jessica Rae.

Back to the open mic Tim Livingston, a member of the band Last Conspirators, read a Blog description of a trip to Graceland, “Lisa Marie’s Swing Set.” Carrie Czwakiel came back to read 2 poems book-ending a relationship, “Without You” (about her ex before they were married), then “No More” (responding to insults after a divorce). Adam Tedesco proclaimed “This Is My Mushroom Poem” & indeed it was, & then “The Open House Has Been Cancelled” with the advice to the love-lorn “love is a kind of arson.” Karen Fabiane likes to string dark images together as in “Oceans Everywhere” from her book Dancing Bear, & “Orphan” (at her doorstep).

I love it when at an open mic these young poets finally get the courage to come to the stage, read their notebook apologies or poems based on a band’s tune, as did Cass Shaw with her untitled work. Janey Weeks poems had titles, like the urban, shadowy “A Place to Fall” & “Elements, AKA Fuck You” which perhaps was a love poem. More seasoned Sally Rhoades read about being in her p.j.s, looking at the Moon “Just After Midnight” & about being in a pub in NYC remembering the past “3 Sheets to the Wind.” Poetyc Visionz arrived late to end up at the bottom of the list, reading (not yet memorized) the just-written “When Words Meet Sound” & then a memorized piece on being crazy in love “Infinite Definition.”

Not only do Poets Speak Loud! but new poets keep showing up too, at McGeary’s on the square across from the Palace Theater on the last Monday of most months, 7:30PM (or thereabouts) — good poetry, good food, good service, a good time.

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