March 21, 2016

Third Thursday Poetry Night, March 17

It was the tail-end of St. Paddy’s Day & although there was no such holiday-related theme I did invoke the 100th anniversary of Ireland’s Easter Rising by reading the lyrics to “The Foggy Dew,” & we were blessed by the presence of 2 Irish poems, one of whom actually read in the open mic, Philomena Moriarty & Pearse Murray.

First up was Philomena who said she came to America when she was 5 years old, in 1958, then read a poem, “Shape Shifting,” about a story her mother & her priest exchanged, & the fairies of Ireland. Sally Rhoades read a new poem written on Key Biscayne beach “The Crescent Moon” about being herself. Carole Rossi was back yet again with a poem written today “Grinding” stream-of-consciousness. Joe Krausman talked about Irish superstitions then read his poem “4” on insomnia (as in 4:00AM).

Tonight’s featured poet was Annie Christain, a young poet whose work I wasn’t familiar with until she contacted me about doing a reading. She has a book coming out in May from C&R Press, Tall As You Are Tall Between Them. Her first poem, “The Sect Which Pulls the Sinews,” was about the conflicts in the life of a Gay/Chinese/Jewish man, the first of many persona pieces. All her poems had such interesting contexts that her introductions were often as compelling as her poems, as in the poem “Watching Ourselves from Afar…” based on a Dali painting, & another that sprang out of her experience teaching in Nanjing, China, a complex bit of surrealism “LAPD Blue Child & Low Daily Rates & No One Was Killed in the Square.” Another from her experience teaching, this in South Korea, was the playful “Thorns to Rescue their Bodies.” “Pretending to Go & Come from Heaven by Fire” was more word play from a workshop exercise, while “Inside a Hand Basket in the Burlesque Theater” was an earlier piece imagining a dancer with no legs. Another poem was about a character under mind control, more surrealistic leaping & twisting, as in the poem “A Maple Gets Red” based on photos from the honeymoon of John Lennon & Yoko Ono. A more personal poem was “I Took to Walking Down the Middle of Highways to Avoid Getting Shot,” with a string of epigraphs from the Bible. She ended with another early, sound-poem, using phrases & references from dictionary entries done up in a love poem, “Done When No Longer Pink Inside.” Check out Annie’s book at the C&R Press website.

After a break I returned to the open mic with my Irish-themed poem “Sheila-na-Gig.” Sylvia Barnard read a St. Patrick’s Day poem from her book “Trees,” about taking her daughter to the parade in Albany. Cathy Abbott read a brief playful poem about a visit to Ireland in 1969. Karen Fabiane ended the night with a poem from her book Seeing You Again, the relationship poem “Fuck the Wind.”

Join us with a poem at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY on the third Thursday of each month, & always a featured reader, all for a $3.00 (or more) donation.

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