“April is the busiest month breeding poetry out of the dead lands…” or something to that effect. The first reading of National Poetry Month was a trip to the Roeliff Jansen Community Library in Hillsdale, NY. Don Levy joined me for the trip, almost an hour south of Albany. The featured poet, & host for the open mic, was Karen Schoemer. There were 19 signed up for the open mic, & about 25 total in the audience.
Rensselaerville Library Poetry Project Blog.
I was first up for the open mic with 2 poems from the anthology 2, “Garrison Keillor” & the related “Trailer Park.” Howard Kogan read his marvelous history of immigrants in America “A Brief History of Fun.” Colin Laclair said it was his first time & read 4 poems he had written this year, serious pieces filled with gardens & vegetables. Don Levy changed the tone with a couple of new pieces about trans-gender issues, “They Said” & the Whitmanesque “I’ll Go With You.” Ted Phelps read a traditional sonnet about April quoting Chaucer, & a poem inspired by the deadly stampede in Mecca “The Wonder of Weeping.” Elizabeth Haight read an autobiographical piece that took us from her childhood, up through adult relationships.
Chris Portius read a poem addressed to another, like a letter, “13th Step.” Bob Clark got up to say that he too had planned to read Mary Oliver’s “The Journey” & was reluctant to read it again, but at the audience’s urging did, & told an interesting story of finding in a 2nd-hand bookstore a copy of a Dr. Seuss book that had been owned by Karen Schoemer. Bruce Bernstein read this year’s winning poem, “Urge” by Pinchos Kurinsky, from the Jewish Currents Dora & Alexander Raynes Poetry Competition (Howard Kogan was a finalist again this year), a poem that I had just read the day before. & it was fitting that the afternoon of poetry ended with yet another Pablo Neruda poem, “Tonight I Can Write,” read by Lita Moses.