October 29, 2015
In the absence of the Frequency North series due, I guess, to budget cuts at the College of St. Rose, it was refreshing to have this reading by poets Barbara Ungar & Bernadette Mayer & both teaching at the College of St. Rose.
Student Amber O’Sullivan introduced Bernadette Mayer with one of the best introductions in an academic setting I have heard in a long time, telling us “I’m not going to talk about…” but of course talking about what she didn’t want to talk about by not talking about it (or something like that).
A great pairing of 2 local poetic treasures.
October 26, 2015
I’ve been to many poetry readings where the audience didn’t show up, but few at where half the readers were a no-show. Harvey Havel had organized this reading at the Hudson River Coffee House on Quail St. in Albany, NY with 4 readers, mixing poetry & prose. But, in addition to Havel, our host, the scheduled readers who did show up were Allen Parmenter & myself, Dan Wilcox.
I followed with a selection of poems from various published chapbooks, beginning with “Where Were the Professors?” from boundless abodes of Albany (Benevolent Bird Press, 2010). The book is available in a Kindle edition. Then on to poems from Poeming the Prompt (A.P.D., 2011), 2 from my latest chapbook, Gloucester Notes (FootHills Publishing, 2015), & a couple from Coyote: Poems of Suburban Living (A.P.D., 2015). I ended with a rare reading of “Baghdad/Albany” from Baghdad/Albany & Other Peace Poems (A.P.D., 2007).
The Hudson River Coffee House is the scene of a weekly open mic that seems to cater mostly to musicians on Thursdays, starting at 8:30PM. For more information contact the Coffee House.
October 25, 2015
Back in the ever-evolving space that is the storefront of the Social Justice Center in Albany, NY. with featured poet John Amen & a cluster of faithful community poets for the open mic.
After the break I returned with the open mic, among announcements, reading my poem “Octoberland” a pastiche of the first stanza of the first section of T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land,” for the end-of-season baseball. Don Levy talked of his teen-age niece taking a creative writing class & gave her advice in his poem “The Family Business.” Karen Fabiane was the final poet for the night with a poem written a long time ago she said, a grim view of humanity, “Fall.”
The poets of Albany gather each third Thursday at the Social Justice Center in Albany, 33 Central Ave., at 7:30PM for a reading by a regional (or national) poet & an open mic for our community poets
October 21, 2015
Don Levy is the host of this cozy poetry series at the Pride Center in Albany, NY.
After a short break the open mic began with me & I read a poem from Gloucester Notes “Shaken, Stirred” then a poem from the Summer for my granddaughter “Girls & Boys at the Altamont Fair.” A.C. Everson sang us her lullaby “The Mute Mind.” Sylvia Barnard read a new poem about visiting a friend, “Schubert in Assisted Living.” Joe Krausman read about lost things: one a poem on lost languages, the other, “Ephemera.” Sally Rhoades began with an old poem “Broken Lives,” then a new poem written after seeing Joy Harjo read “So Many Maybes.” Don Levy finished the night with a political piece “Citizen Huckabee” & “My Guy Friend” about the dilemma of what words we use to describe our relationships.
Another fine night of poetry at the Pride Center of the Capital Region on the 2nd Wednesday of the month, starts at 7:30PM, for a modest donation.
This series, that I co-host with Nancy Klepsch, restarted after a Summer break for the season last month, but I had another event to attend to & missed it. I was happy to be back with my partner & the interesting writers who show up to read.
First up was Bob Sharkey with comments & a poem about the anthology Best American Poetry 2015, his comments titled “The Cream Rises” while his annual cento composed of lines he liked was titled “Little Survivals.” Bob also announced a poetry contest that he is coordinating & would be open to all.
Howard Kogan read a wonderful, humorous take on “Heaven,” then a related piece, in its 21st draft, “Over.” Karen Fabiane read a surreal poem on clumsiness & vigilantes “Atmosphere” then a new poem “Listening to Satie.” Sally Rhoades read chapter 2 of her work-in-progress memoir “Writing My Mother.”
So, in spite of the streets of Troy being blocked off for the Chowder Fest, the streets filled with people, we gathered for poetry & prose as we do each 2nd Sunday at 2PM at the Arts Center of the Capital Region in the midst of it on River St., Troy, NY. Each month until June.
October 17, 2015
I haven’t made it to this open mic in some months, but was glad to be here tonight for 2 wonderful featured readers, Susan Fantl Spivack & James Schlett, &, of course, for the poets who show up to read in the open mic. Our host, Carol Graser, who had been one of the readers at the 100 Thousand Poets for Change event at the end of September began with a poem by Joy Harjo, “Once the World was Perfect,” from Harjo's new book Conflict Resolutions for Holy Beings.
A perennial figure here, Rodney Parrott, read from his series of seriously playful poems on flying. Jesse Mews performed with stylized Slam gestures an intense piece about the weirdness of his college days.
While Mary Beth Kikel was telling us her personal history in Lake Placid & Saratoga she set up her tambourine on a stool draped with a colorful shawl, then performed 2 rhyming pieces, “The Cottage in the Wood” (filled with fairies) &, for Halloween, “Witch Trouble.” M.C. Rush said his poem, “Bone Song,” in spite of its title, was not a Halloween piece, then read a long chant-like anaphoric poem “As I Do Stand.”
After a break, Carol Graser returned us to the open mic, reading what she described as “a cute Halloween poem,” a descriptive piece about children in costumes. A group of poets had driven over from Utica for the open mic, the first was Rosie, who said this was her first time ever reading at an open mic, first a poem about traveling from Los Angeles to Las Vegas “Desert Light” & another titled “Death Took Too Many,” a very good début. Another Utica poet Garret Ingraham read a poem by Utica poet Roger Smith, then his own piece of social commentary, “The Inevitable Progress of Commerce.” Mike Cecconi had come over from Utica to read at Don Levy’s open mic at the Pride Center in Albany back in April; he is essentially a one-trick pony bellowing his poems like his ironically titled piece “This Is My Inside Voice,” & a stand-up routine turned into a “poem,” “Lemons.”
This open mic for poetry held at the historic Caffè Lena on Phila St. in Saratoga Springs, starts about 7:30PM on the 1st Wednesday of the month, is sponsored by Northshire Bookstore & hosted by Carol Graser — always worth the trip.
October 13, 2015
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.”
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.”
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.
October 8, 2015
100 Thousand Poets for Change is an international event that was started in 2011 by Michael Rothenberg & Terri Carrion consisting of individual events, each planned locally, poetry & music promoting peace & sustainability. In the past few years an event has been planned by the staff & faculty of SUNY Adirondack (formally known as Adirondack Community College) in Queensbury, NY. This year they actually planned 3 events: a student poetry reading on September 24, a Faculty and Area Poets Reading and Book-Signing & a reading by Joy Harjo, both on Sunday, September 27. I was pleased to be invited to read, & to be listed on the flyer along with Paul Pines, Barbara Ungar, Carol Graser & Elaine Handley.
Faculty & Area Poets
The first part of the Sunday program was held in the Visual Arts Gallery in Dearlove Hall. There were 14 on the program & 1 last-minute addition, each of us limited to a (theoretical & sometimes actual) 5 minutes. Some of these performers are familiar names to those who attend poetry events in the region extending up into the North Country, some were familiar to those at SUNY Adirondack.
I also would be remiss to not mention Courtney Reid who handled the logistics, which anyone who knows about group poetry readings is like herding cats. Also, the students in the culinary school for the exquisite cookies (& who perhaps had something to do with the variety of small sandwiches & other refreshments available between the 2 halves of the afternoon).
Following her reading she gave generous space to questions & answers from the audience which led her back & around to discussions of poetry & native culture. Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings is just out & so only available in a hardbound edition, but I wanted these poems now, & the cover art is worth it — & Joy Harjo signed it.
As I remarked during my time slot, we poets are used to asking for change, passing the hat at every open mic.
For a full set of photos from this afternoon of poetry check out my flickr site here.
October 6, 2015
This event was organized by novelist Harvey Havel at the Hudson River Coffee House on Quail St. in Albany, NY. The evening was hosted, for the most part, by the whirling dervish of the mid-Hudson Valley poetry scene, Robert Milby. A similar event was held back in March & 3 of tonight’s readers (Havel, Milby & Dorn) read then too.
Harvey Havel was the first up reading a chapter from his latest novel The Thruway Killers (America Star Books, 2015). This chapter, set in Connecticut, dealt with the planning & botched killing of the main character’s father, a sort of pawn-shop version of the Oedipus story. Harvey has published 8 novels, as well as a memoir about his mother, a collection of stories & one of essays. You’ve got to buy at least one — they’re available on Kindle & on Amazon.com.
John Douglas is a poet from the mid-Hudson region, the only one of tonight’s readers who didn’t read at the March event, & an apparent last-minute substitute for the advertised Christopher Wheeling. His poems ranged from those about writing poetry (“Mongrel Language”), to his son’s cancer (“His Biopsy”), to a house fire, to shoveling snow, to a couple pieces about West Point where he works, to more cancer, violence & death (“His Wife”), to a piece about the 1977 plane crash that killed 3 members of the band Lynyrd Skynyrd. He tended to simply drone on, his poems generally narrative in simple, prosaic language — good thing we were in a coffee house.
|Brian Dorn (left) & Don Levy|
Brian Dorn is one of those poets who supports other poets by showing up at open mics all over the region, & has been a featured reader at most of them. Of late he has been promoting (which in the poetry world means “trying to sell”) his book From My Poems to Yours (The Live Versions) (Shires Press, 2015). He read a healthy selection, including “Hidden in Night,” “Pitfalls,” “I Need a Sign,” the seasonal “Changing Ways,” “Her Attributes,” “In God We Trust,” “Writing Poetry” (it ain’t easy), the political “Standard of Living,” &, the highlight of the night, “Poetry is Sexy” with Don Levy standing in (!) for Brian’s wife as the echo in the poem — pretty sexy.
As in March, this reading was followed by an “open mic,” but it was clearly a music open mic with the early arrivals pointedly indifferent to poetry. So I went home. Besides, after 2 hours even I am tired of poetry & went home to a baseball game.
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.”
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.”
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.
October 4, 2015
This reading was part of an annual series held at the Cape Ann Museum, a series that started with the Charles Olson celebration in 2010. Poet & performer Michael McClure was today’s guest lecturer to a full house of Gloucesterites, visitors & a poetic luminaries.
James Cook, Gloucester poet & teacher introduced Michael McClure with a tale of his discovery of McClure’s work, & a litany of other San Francisco Renaissance writers.
At the end he looked for some haiku in his new volume, couldn’t find them & ended with a marvelous poem, what he called “a plum song,” a descriptive piece beginning with fog, to the colors of plums, a mudra, circling back through the images again to fog.
Michael McClure has a new book out of new & selected poems, City Lights has reprinted his early book Dark Brown; also currently available are the above-mentioned Ghost Tantras, & one of my favorites, Scratching the Beat Surface.