October 13, 2015

Gloucester Writers Center Open Mic, October 5

I was pleased to be in Gloucester on the 1st Monday to be able to finally get to this open mic. Tonight it was held not at Vincent’s old place in East Gloucester but down on the end of Main St. at the Eastern Point Lit House, a bookstore/writing space/hangout (poet Michael McClure was staying at the Writers Center making it unavailable). The open mic was hosted by Amanda Cook.

Like any other open mic in Albany (NY), or Woodstock, or East Byjesus MT, there were at least a half a dozen readers signed up for the reading when I arrived, but the #1 slot was still blank, so guess what? I signed up #1. Trying to sell books I read from recent chapbooks the poems “Coyote 2” then “Looking for Olson’s Grave.”

 Next up was Virginia, who told me later that she was 86 years old & a life-long resident of Gloucester; she read a childhood memoir about Halloween, inspired by her husband’s 90the birthday. Don Kipp began with a poem about an open mic, “Emptiness, Thanks Emily,” then a cluster of short poems, including one about an Irish mythical creature, “A Silkie to her Sister.” Barbara Scott Nelson said she was a journalist writing stories about real people who use their hands to express their ideas, read about a maker of fine furniture who is also a blues musician. Jim Dinsmore’s strange cosmic piece was titled “The Death of a Wino.” Randy Ross first did a piece from memory, “One Day in Thailand,” then read the minute-by-minute account of “The Top Secret Work Habits of a Novelist.” Susan Emerson’s descriptive piece of watching a spider web in a Victorian bedroom was either a short story or an excerpt from a novel.  Bill Jackson began with a memoir of killing mosquitos with a “flip-gun,” then a piece on real guns, & a piece titled “Sink Holes.”

Our host Amanda Cook read a series of fragments dealing with football, confessions, food, news, etc. then a series of Face Book entries, with more people reading them than her (or mine or yours) other work. Dan Duffy explained that he is writing a story about his brother, imaging his trip across country in 1970, the segment he read about eating peyote & flashbacks of Viet Nam. Steve Waldron pulled one, folded sheet of paper from his pocket that contained 3 poems, “The Gate, The Flame,” “Leaning Tower of Babylon,” & the political satire “Paradisum.” Flinda Nix read a trio of prose pieces from writing assignments, “The Cowgirl,” another about a nurse resuscitating a patient, & “The Uptight Librarian.”

Willie Alexander (whose CD of songs base on poems of Vincent Ferrini is one of my most-played) recited a series of short lyrics, “Just Around the Corner,” “Format is Criteria,” “Stigmata non-Grata,” & “Wave Your Water Wave Your Sky” (imaging the music behind it). James Cook read a fascinating poem responding to last Saturday’s lecture at the Cape Ann Museum by poet Michael McClure, Cook’s piece entitled “The Biologic Politics of Mammalian Patriotism” (drawing on phrases from McClure’s lecture).

Chris Anderson, who is the proprietor of the Eastern Point Lit House, read an excerpt from a manuscript titled “Rock’n’Roll Ghosts,” a family memoir of his father, a farm & the Korean War. Sue Ellen also read from a book she is working on (seems like everyone here tonight is working on one), another childhood memoir, this of a fire.

The night ended with a pair of the youngest writers. First Abby Cook with the first few paragraphs of a story of a family in a car driving to a new home, then Sam Cook reading from Michael McClure’s book of poems written in part in made-up language & sound patterns, Ghost Tantra — & he did better with that than I think I could’ve.

It was quite a night of words among the (living) writers of Gloucester, & I’m glad I finally made it to one of these 1st Mondays. I will have to keep that in mind when planning my next trip here. But check out the other programming at the Gloucester Writers Center on their website.

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