September 26, 2015

An Evening of Poetry & Music at Lekker, September 18

How could I not go to this reading? — on the bill Cheryl A. Rice & 3 other women poets! It was a good choice. Lekker is a laid-back restaurant/cafe on Main St. in Stone Ridge, with an eclectic menu with beer & wine.

It was an informal program with each poet introducing the next reader, a format fraught with disaster, but each poet tonight did her duty clearly announcing the next reader. First up, introducing herself, was Albany’s favorite Cheryl A. Rice who began with a 9/11 poem “Blue,” then on to a new piece “Alone” a touching love poem to Michael & her home. She read the title poems from My Minnesota Boyhood (Post Traumatic Press, 2012) & from Moses Parts the Tulips (A.P.D., 2013). “A Shoe Drops” was a discursive piece filled with memories of childhood inspired by watching The Last Waltz, & she ended with a fear-of-flying poem “Coast to Coast.”

Lisa Mullenneaux curates the ekphrastic website Painters & Poets  so it is not surprising that her poems were filled with lush visual images. She began with poems from her chapbook Painters and Poets (Penington Press, 2012) “Shadow” (a photo of Matisse), “Caller to the Moon” (Georgia O’Keefe) & “Ars Poetica.” Then on to a poem for her mother on her 91st birthday, imagining her conception “Star Shower,” the musical “Listening Ravi Coltrane,” & one about being on a cruise ship “At Sea.” She ended with an evocative piece about a man on a tractor, & his dead son, then “The War After the War” from a series in letter form.

Tina Barry did something I don’t think I’d see anyone do: read from a script that included not only her poems but also her introductions. Obviously she had prepared for her reading & didn’t have to ask “how much time do I have left?” She has a new book coming out Mall Flowers, from which she gave us a tantalizing selection, some short prose, some poems, many memories from high school, such as a funny piece about making out in the basement. “One Bag of Popcorn” was about a visit to a Mall movie describing “Dad is a dick.” There was a tender piece about a deceased Aunt, “No Word for Enchantment,” & “Wool & Spool” mixing a poetry workshop & an orgy. She ended with the funny & randy “Party at My Place” about her vagina. & you wonder why I drove all this way?

The night wasn’t over & Catherine Arra who organized the event kept the fever up. She said that the poems she was reading were all from writers workshops. She began with the title poem from her chapbook Slamming & Splitting (Red Ochre Press) mixing Niels Bohr & poetry. Next a couple of very toasty poems from her chapbook of love poems Loving from the Backbone (Flutter Press) (which I took home to take to bed with), “His Offer” & the post-coital “Submission.” Then a couple pieces from the latest issue of Timberline Review, a memoir about story-telling & her Italian grandmother, then a poem “Leaving Sicily.”

I was more enthralled leaving than I had been when I arrived, a wonderful night of poetry & stories & lovely women. Oh, I forgot to mention the sole male on the ticket, the vocalist & acoustic guitar player Bret Scott, mixing rock & jazz. Folks seemed to enjoy the food here at Lekker, & the wine & beer list was imaginative, just enough.

September 22, 2015

Third Thursday Poetry Night, September 17

at the Social Justice Center, but tonight without a featured poet, thus the open mic poets were allowed to read 2 poems each. And there was a good list of poets to read, with even a couple of new poets on the list.

Robert Nied

& the new poets were 1st & 2nd on the list, first Robert Nied, with rhyming poems “Talking” & “The Ride Home,” conversations with his son. Then Owen Nied, the son Robert’s poems were about, his poem “The Kitchen Was a Glowing Fireball” about party, then a poem about listening to LPs “Between the Speakers,” accompanied by his finger-snapping.

Owen Nied
  Joe Krausman read a poem he just wrote this morning, in 3 sections: women, art, life each beginning “where did I put…” then read about a visit to the cardiologist “I Got Arthymia.” Don Levy’s poem “St. Kim of Rowan County” was ripped from the pages of the news, then a poem from his trip to Paris this Summer “City of Love & Smoke.”

The second of the familial groups began with Frank Robinson introducing a new chapbook, not of poetry, but about coins, then read a new poem never read before, on the best things about America, good enough for a campaign speech. He was followed by his wife Thérèse Broderick with poems from her childhood, “The Breath Debt” about playing music with her Dad, & “Armful After Armful.” Karen Fabiane’s first poem was from the East Village 40 years ago, “Outdoor Cafe,” followed by a newer piece “Makes A Great Shake.”

Sylvia Barnard reprised 2 poems from her recent trip to Ireland, the first about actually reading a page of “The Book of Kells,” then about the “Giants’ Causeway” in Northern Ireland. Brian Dorn read about the game of Chess in the 21st Century, “My Queen & I,” then “Out of the Shadows,” both from his book From My Poems to Yours (The Live Versions). Kwesi returned with a new poem, “Bullets,” powerful images of racism in America. I finished off the night with a new poem “Naming the Parakeets,” then a snippet from my new book Gloucester Notes (FootHills Publishing).

The Third Thursday Poetry Night takes place each, well, third Thursday of the month, at 7:30PM, at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY usually a featured poet & an open mic for the rest of us, for a modest (or not) donation.

September 18, 2015

Community of Writers Reading, September 13

This reading by Elizabeth Gordon, Julie Lomoe & James Schlett was one of a continuing series by local authors, the series sponsored by the Hudson Valley Writers Guild. [Full disclosure: I am President of HVWG & organized this reading.] It was held at the East Greenbush (NY) Community Library.

Julie Lomoe talked about the history of the writing, publication & marketing of her 3 mystery novels, Mood Swing: The Bipolar Murders (2006), Eldercide (2008), & the just-published Hope Dawns Eternal (Norse Crone Press, 2015), a vampire/soap opera/murder mystery. She said her new book has the potential of being the first in a series, using many of the same characters. To give us a taste, she read the Prologue which sets up what takes place in the novel 10 years later.

James Schlett started out in the Albany poetry scene a number of years ago, but his work as a journalist let him to the story of Ralph Waldo Emerson, James Russell Lowell, Louis Agassiz, William James Stillman & others, & their stay at “the Philosophers’ Camps” in 1858, that he tells in A Not Too Greatly Changed Eden: The Story of the Philosophers’ Camp in the Adirondacks (Cornell University Press, 2015). He began with reciting from Emerson’s poem “The Adirondacs,” & read fascinating excerpts from the book, as well as anecdotes from his research. His book has been selling well enough to warrant a second printing.

Elizabeth Gordon began by talking about & reading from her memoir Walk With Us, Triplet Boy, Their Teen Parents, & Two White Women Who Tagged Along (Crandall, Dostie & Douglass Books, 2007), then read a poem based on the experiences in the book. Her book of poems Love Cohoes (Crandall, Dostie & Douglass Books, 2014) is a collection of poems that describe, evoke, & celebrate that city by the Falls. She read the rhapsodic “The Clotheslines of Cohoes,” & “Adult Low-Dose” a “black-out poem” which let to a discussion of the technique & more examples using dictionary definitions.

3 writers representing only a sample of the of the great variety of writing personalities, styles & genres in this rich & arts-vibrant region. For more information about the Hudson Valley Writers Guild check out the website.

September 17, 2015

Yes! a Reading Series, September 12

Another sure sign of Autumn, along with cooler nights & the leaves turning colors, is the return of this eclectic reading/performance/art series. For the season opener there were no out-of-towners, just 3 locals, Diana Alvarez, Olivia Dunn, & Adam Tedesco.

Diana Alvarez, who is currently a PhD student in Electronic Arts at RPI, already has an impressive resume as an interdisciplinary artist.  Tonight she stayed behind the mic, reading & singing. She began with some short, mostly anaphoric poems, then some pieces from a chapbook, Consultations with Bruja Juana, poems around Sor Inés de la Cruz (1651 - 1695), & a nervous poem “You Are Still Here.” Then she charmed us with 2 beautifully sung poems by Mexican poets, “Sabor a Mi” by Álvaro Carrillo Alarcón & “Usted” by Gabriel Ruiz Galindo. She ended with a marvelous poem filled with the influences of Hispanic surrealism, “To Heal the Way in Which I Walk.”

Adam Tedesco was the only one of the 3 readers whose work I had heard before; he is a frequent reader on the local open mic scene, usually accompanied, as he was tonight, by his lovely cheer-leader wife, Lisa. His poems are edgy, complex & his reading had a trajectory from just provocative to philosophical, starting with “This Is My Mushroom Poem,” “Stuffed Crust” (“my heart is a Pizza Hut…”) to the chant “Come Let Go.” The poem “Future False” was a meditation on power & religion that started with an image of his son’s baptism, while the next poem ranged from compartmentalization to fucking to writing a poem. Then to a long piece “The Open House Has Been Cancelled.” “Birthday Walking Storm King…” was linked to the more gentle “Clouds” by, well, clouds. “Say Something…” merged word play to image play, then to the surrealistic social commentary of “How to Tell If You Are Dreaming,” winding up thinking about the end in “Change Me.” Nice to hear more than a couple of poems from Adam.

Olivia Dunn has returned home after graduating from the Nonfiction Writing Program at the University of Iowa. She’s currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of writing at Skidmore College, & blogs at She began with some vignettes about walking around the Empire State Plaza, descriptive, humorous, somewhat self-deprecating. Then on to a series of memoir pieces, one on Winter in Middle School in Albany, another on the 3 Albany Price-Choppers, where a discussion of the Delaware Ave. store, known to all as “the ghetto Chopper,” led to a thoughts on racism & being one of the minority white students at Philip Livingston Middle School. Check out her Blog for samples of her work.

Yes! continues on a monthly basis at the Albany Center Gallery, 39 Columbia St., Albany, 7PM, a donation helps keep the series going. Find them on Facebook to see when the next readings are.

September 14, 2015

Poets of Earth, Water, Tree & Sky, September 11

The poets packed the house for Tom Corrado & for the open mic. For over 25 years, since the open mic at the QE2 I have arrived to sign up after 5, or 6, or more poets have signed up & the #1 slot is still blank, so I have appropriated that slot for myself, & once again, tonight.

The sub theme for the night was, informally, today’s date & its moment(s) in history, so I read my poem written in 2012 “Another Tuesday,” conflating the September 11 Tuesdays of 1973 & 2001 (& 2012). Tim Verhaegen followed with a ironic/humorous short essay on the workplace “Lying Herds.” Mark W. O’Brien read a philosophical piece on death & love, “It’s A Long Road that Has No Turning.” Our host, Alan Casline, read next 3 short poems, “Paddle Song,” “Bell’s Butterflies” & a consideration of the great spirit, “They Are the Salt of the Earth.” Always philosophical John Abbhul read poems in rhyme, beginning with “Biophilia” (wondering what flowers might feel), “Contentment” (about a field of hummingbirds), & “The Meaning of Truth.” Joan Gran’s poem was about a family in conflict, “Trouble in the Kitchen” done in images of food & cooking. Paul Amidon looked to the past for an image of his parents holding hands “Parking Lot Image” & “Poseur.” This was Sue Oringel’s first time here & she read about “Dirt” & golf (“Links”). Jessica Rae read parts of her poem “Magical Great Blue Heron”, then a poem on things overheard in the park & a meditation on love & healing.

The featured performer was Tom Corrado, who began by playing the flugelhorn, riffling on 2 jazz standards, “Autumn Leaves” & “My Funny Valentine,” sounding like a white Miles Davis, with the ever-limber Sally Rhoades dancing. Then on to a reading from a new chapbook, Excavations (mining my and others’ words), including Samuel Beckett, Philip Roth, the Beach Boys, Mark Twain, Bela Lugosi, Guy Davenport, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, & others, including an open mic, reading nearly the entire chapbook, except for section #12. The sections ranged from the profound to the whimsical, always with his characteristic non sequitur & word play.

After a break we continued with the open mic, with Howard Kogan returning to a theme of the night, “September 11, 2001: 3 Memories.” Philomena Moriarty’s poem remembering Autumns in the past, “One Falls Over Laughing,” was inspired by a display of Teddy Bears in Starbucks, then a poem on the fallibility of memory “The Unmeeting of Minds.”

Katrinka Moore read from her book, Thief (BlazeVOX [books], 2009), the poem "Light Moth" about the smoke of 9/11. Joe Krausman gave an enthusiastically negative review of Woody Allen’s new movie & read an old piece on Allen “Does the Big Apple Have a New Worm,” then “Waiting For My Ship to Come In.” Sally Rhoades changed back into her street clothes to end the night with “On a Night with a Poet” (for Maurice Kenny), then a poem from the Scissortail Creative Writing Festival in Ada, OK, “I Can’t Hear You…” & ended with a poem for the Equinox.

This series continues on a monthly basis on Fridays at the Pine Hollow Arboretum, 29 Maple Ave., Slingerlands, NY, 6:30PM (earlier for food), logistics by the Rootdrinker Institute.

September 11, 2015

Live from the Living Room, September 9

Another quiet night in the Garden Room of the Pride Center for the open mic, just me, Sylvia Barnard & our host Don Levy; no featured poet scheduled. So we agreed to do a round-robin reading of 3 poems each.

I was first in each round, began with a new poem, not yet typed out, “Naming the Parakeets,” then an old one from my brand-new poetry chapbook, Gloucester Notes (FootHills Publishing), “The Cold Clean Sea,” & my last poem was a recent one “Hidden Cafe Table Poem.”

Sylvia Barnard has been on a tour of Ireland, mainly the North, & has missed a few of the recent open mics. Her first two, brief poems were from her trip “The Book of Kells” & “The Giant Causeway.” Her last poem was one I’ve heard her read before, but enjoy it a lot, about the poets listening & reading in the July Poets in the Park series.

Our host, Don Levy, had 2 new poems, fresh from the week’s news, “St. Kim of Rowan County” with county clerk Kim Davis as a ironically mis-guided Joan of Arc figure done up in Don’s signature humor, as was his description of “Homophobic Heaven.” He ended with a poem from his recent trip to Paris, on writers’ block & other stoppages “Constipation.”

Often there is a featured poet who reads first, followed by an open mic for the rest of us, each 2nd Wednesday, 7:30PM at the Pride Center of the Capital Region, 332 Hudson Ave., Albany, NY — a modest donation to pay the feature.

September 9, 2015

Gloucester Writers Center Reading, September 2

Back in June I had reserved a room at the Good Harbor Beach Inn on Cape Ann for the first few days of September. It was beautiful beach weather & there was reading on this Wednesday evening at the Rocky Neck Cultural Center to “Celebrate Labor Day and Jonathan Bayliss’s Birthday.” The reading was of labor connected themes from Bayliss’s Prologos, the huge first volume of his Gloucesterman tetralogy.

Thorpe Feidt
Henry Ferrini (one of the founders of the GWC) served as host (& videographer) & introduced Cape Ann artist Thorpe Feidt who had worked as a typist for Bayliss when the novels were being written. Bayliss is a writer’s writer, his texts are dense with description, commentary, arcane (& made-up) words, serpentine sentences & Proustian paragraphs like concrete blocks tossed into the air. One of the readers, Martin Ray, commented that the book(s) should be read out loud. I was unfamiliar with Bayliss’s work, but agreed, being hypnotized & seduced by the richness of the language & the intricate cadences of the passages read. These dealt with the main character’s experience in New York City around World War II working in a machine shop, & delivering parts to unfamiliar neighborhoods in the City. The words created the sound, the smells, the oil & curled shavings, the repetitive demands of the lathes & gears & belts. Each reading was only a couple of pages long, but they were pages of thick prose, like chowder.

Henry Ferrini videotaping David Adams reading
The readers included, in addition to Henry, Martin Ray, Doug Guidry, David Adams, Victoria Bayliss Mattingly (the author’s daughter), Ken Riaf, David Rich & Peter Anastas.  You can find a moving & informative eulogy for Bayliss that Anastas delivered in April 2009 on this Blog, A Walker in the City.

Gloucester has been the home &/or subject for many writers, including Rudyard Kipling, T.S. Eliot, Charles Olson, & Vincent Ferrini in the past, & living authors such as Gerrit Lansing & Peter Anastas, among others, & the Gloucester Writers Center is the place to see & hear them, & a steady stream of visiting writers. There is even an open mic on the 1st Monday of the month. It’s not just the beaches & fresh lobsters, you know.

September 8, 2015

Poets Speak Loud!, August 31

I’d been at the bar out front at McGeary's on Clinton Square in Albany, NY, having happy hour, dinner, talking with Melissa, then Joe, yet when I got to the back room, already filled with open mic poets, someone (i.e., our host Mary Panza, perhaps) signed me up in the first slot -- it happens. A bit of the open mic before the featured poet Steven Minchin.

I began with reading an old poem, “Jack Sketching,” from my new book, Gloucester Notes (FootHills Publishing, 2015), then a new poem about a visit to the Altamont Fair with with my teenage granddaughter Emily. Joe Krausman read poems with his characteristic combination of humor & of staring Mortality in the eyes, “Arctic Tern” & “The Best & the Divorced.”

Austin Houston was back, tonight with untitled pieces, one on being flawed, the other on making it on your own. Carrie Czwakiel’s name posed a problem for our host from South Troy, but they shared a lot in attitude; Carrie introduced her poems as “the last 2 nails in the ex’s coffin,” appropriately enough titled “Poison” & “I Hate You.” Julie Lomoe, while promoting her newest mystery novel, Hope Dawns Eternal (Norse Crone Press, 2015) read a pointed rant “The Angry Author.”

Steven Minchin’s wry, insouciant manner matched perfectly his enigmatic poetry; as he said at the beginning of his reading, “some of these take seconds, some take the rest of your lives,” as a sample of his titles suggest: “I See You’re About To Say,” “Shuttered Up in a Strange Time” (accepted for the online journal Drunk Monkeys), “Tell Wrong I Like It.” His work explores relationships & emotions, even mental illness which he did in a cluster of 3 poems including “Ready Embrace” (or, as he said, “mental illness in a mall), & a poem, “This Radiant Boy,” set in NYC & referencing Frank O’Hara’s poetry. Steven has a unique voice in this local poetry scene.

Back to the open mic with Adam Tedesco who read a poem about “confusing & compartmentalizing” then “How to Speak About My Heart,” which, as in many of his poems may not be what it was about. Karen Fabiane began with a poem from1978, “Portrait of a Frankenstein Monster as I Remember It,” then “Makes a Great Shake.”

I missed the next poet’s name, had meant to check the sign-up sheet, but forgot before I left, & so have only this one image, & my notes on her poetry, continuing the theme introduced earlier by Carrie Czwakiel, 2 angry poems to an ex, “Love Promise” & “I Can’t Write… (about him, about etc.). Sally Rhoades’ poem for her daughter, “Walk With Wonder” changed the tone to a more gentle, loving one, as was her second poem. Brian Dorn introduced his new book From My Poems to Yours as he did at the Social Justice Center by asking Mary Panza to to pick a number (57) that corresponded to the poem “Stop and Think” in his book.

Throughout the night’s reading & shenanigans our lovely waitress, Chelsea, seemed to be right there whenever we needed her, for another beer, or wine, or the check, like the Guardian Angel of waitresses, another reason — of many — to return to McGeary’s each month on the last Monday for Poets Speak Loud! — see for more information.

September 5, 2015

Book Launch Party for 64 Changes, August 30

64 Changes is a collection of poems, based on the I Ching, by Alan Casline just out from FootHills Publishing. I won’t say the world was eagerly awaiting the publication of these poems, but those of us who know Alan & his work know this has been hanging fire for some time, at least since 2007 & the publication of Copper Coins (Rootdrinker Institute), a chapbook containing 9 poems & the summary of his work on this project, “Progress on Hexagrams.” The new book contains a poem (sometimes more than one) on each of the 64 hexagrams in the I Ching (often translated as "The Book of Changes"). It is sometimes described as a method of divination or fortune telling, but it is more accurate to call it a collection of gnomic passages of advice that one arrives at by chance methods (i.e., tossing coins or a complex system of yarrow sticks). I confess to being a devotee of the I Ching, its sage advice having often guided me through difficult times & decisions. Like newspaper astrology or the sortex Virgilianum the texts are general statements advising patience, right action, proper behavior that can apply to most situations we meet in life — i.e., it never sanctions slicing the tires of your wife’s lover’s pick-up truck. The comments & images attached to each of the hexagrams give us pause in our busy lives to think about the options that lie before us & to take the time to consider our actions before we do them.

Being a supporter of local poets & their work Alan’s event, held at the Pine Hollow Arboretum in Slingerlands, NY included an open mic, as well as pizza. The first poet up was Peter Boudreaux with his poem about his day “Infinity.” Bob Sharkey followed with “Subject 0020” a piece that uses the letters of the combined names of Alan Casline & poet Alan Catlin (who was out wandering the trails of the Arboretum with his wife Valerie), then a piece of urban observations on women & words. Mark W. O’Brien began with a poem from a visit to The Clark Institute “My Deposition” then a poem based upon reading Seamus Heaney. Joe Krausman read a new piece “Buddhist Dreams” & an older poem “Holocaust.” Joan Gran read from a book by Patricia Gilbert, then her own piece on writers finishing their work “In Conclusion.”

Many years ago, before I had only a mechanical work-processor, I created a small broadside, “Hexagram 13,” using physical cut-&-paste & reproduced it at a copy center; in honor of Alan’s new work I re-created it on my computer, printed it on my printer & read it tonight, then, at Michael Czarnecki’s prodding reading a short piece from my own just published chapbook from his FootHills Publishing, Gloucester Notes. Tom Corrado read “Expected Gain” from his self-published chapbook Liner Notes.

Alan's (& my) publisher Michael Czarnecki had come from Western New York for this event, but had no poems in his pocket, so recited from memory “Mid Way Poem” then “The Echo of What is Past” based on his reading of Chinese poets. John Abhul, the hands & spirit that created the Arboretum here, read 2 of his own philosophical pieces “Bonds” & “Father Time,” then one of his favorite poems “The Song of the Trolleys” by kindred spirit W.S. Merwin.

Philomena Moriarty ended the open mic with 3 spiritual pieces, a meditation on the Prayer of St. Francis, a poem on rising from “the death of God” “Blessed Be,” & a poem on gratitude “Benefaction.”

At this point Alan called for a break before his own short reading, but I had to leave & missed his reading. Having heard Alan read his poems many times in the past I have a sense of the timbre & pitch & rhythm of his voice when reading his poems & indeed had already heard his voice reading 64 Changes both reading some of the actual poems in the past, as well as in my own ear when I read from this book after it arrived last week. If you are not familiar with either Alan Casline’s poetry, or with the I Ching, I encourage you to buy this book — in fact, I encourage you to buy & read this book even if you toss the I Ching every morning or have been to Alan’s readings in the past. You can order direct from FootHills Publishing at this link.