October 6, 2015

Poets of the Earth, Air, Tree & Sky, October 2

The featured poet for tonight, Brenda Coultas, was delayed in getting to Slingerlands from NYC, so our host Alan Casline had the open mic poets read first. Alan introduced each poet by reading brief comments on the (various) nature(s) of poetry by Carl Sandburg from his book Good Morning America. I won’t repeat each poet’s chosen intro.

I was first up with a new poem “Naming the Parakeets” then my satiric pastiche of Charles Olson’s “The Kingfisher” from my still-new book Gloucester Notes (FootHills Publishing).  Howard Kogan picked up the bird theme with a childhood memoir “At the Pigeon Store.”

Tim Verhaegen is upset by crowd-funding requests & wrote his own outrageous request for money for an antique lamp. Joan Gran’s poem “Unnatural Habitat” described a deer on her lawn eating her plants. Paul Amidon read about a great aunt, then imagined the ghosts in an “Abandoned House.” Our host in the Aboretum’s visitor center, John Abbhul read an essay on the big abstractions “What Part Does Truth Play in our Lives?”

Our poetry host, Alan Casline, read 2 poems connected to Bernadette (who wasn’t in the room at the time), “I Imagine a Poem by Bernadette Mayer” (on her poem “Why I Live in the Country”) & a “purposely bad” poem “The Black Caldron from Delmar.” Joe Krausman began with something new, “3 Scraps” on women, art, & Life, & something old “My Son the Meshugganah.” Malcolm Willison announced his first poem as “political” titled “Occupied” then read about cows grazing on poisoned grass in a poem titled “The Weeds of Fukushima,” realizing they were both political.

Phil Good described his short, drive-by poem as “a meta-poem” (which sounds like one of those faux theoretical terms to make the mundane sound profound). Adam Tedesco read 2 poems that I told him later I’d heard before, but, particularly with his work, improve with multiple hearings, the self-critical “I Got So Good at Compartmentalization that I Fucked Myself” & the series of metaphors “About the Heart.”

Poor Brenda Coultas, our featured reader, had left Brooklyn in a heavy downpour & missed the open mic. But she relaxed & did a good reading, from a variety of her books. She began with “Blackie,” a fantasy beginning with her dog, on to her son & snakes too. Next was an extended automatic writing piece written in an art colony titled “To the Song Bird Fallen on the 4th Floor” flowing from images of Poe, the Bronx, the view of Mount Greylock, that got interrupted in the middle by applause (or, was it really 2 pieces?). "Edna’s Cabin" was another art colony piece, then on to pieces titled “English Professor’s Lament,” & “Dragon’s Head.” She read 2 poems based on Italian masks in Venice, a local history sonnet, & then chunks from this Summer’s journal mixing the self-conscious & the mundane. She ended with the series of journal entries & note-book jottings about bums & trash gathered as her book The Bowery Project. Glad she made it through the rain & wind from Brooklyn to Slingerlands.

Poets of the Earth, Air, Tree & Sky is a series held, until Winter sets in, at the Pine Hollow Arboretum on Maple Ave. in Slingerlands, NY, once a month, at 6:30PM.

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