April 11, 2016

Poets of Earth, Water, Tree and Sky, April 8

As Winter ends (we think, we hope) the new season for this series starts up at the Pine Hollow Arboretum & it was off to a great start with Tim Verhaegen as the featured poet, our host, as always, the Bird, Alan Casline.

Although I got there close to the start time, the #1 slot in the open mic was still open, so I grabbed it, & read 2 new poems I had not read out before “Decomposition” & the driving directions “How to Find Clit Court” (a real street in Colonie, NY). Paul Amidon read 2 of his characteristically descriptive poems, “Friends” (on death), & “More to Learn” about cutting wood. Howard Kogan (who is equally discursive) read 2 poems about the Universe, the spider eco-poem “World Enough” & one about Uranus in particular & astronomy in general. Mark O’Brien read a most appropriately titled poem “April Has Been Cancelled” then his poem appearing on the Rensselaerville Library Poetry Project Blog “What would you be like if they named you after a Dutchman?”

The creator of this space that is the Arboretum, a sort of zoo of trees, John Abbuhl, read a couple of recent philosophical musings from his pocket notebook, about what he calls “cooperative intelligent design.” Mike Conner began with a relationship poem written 10 years ago “Fourth Act,” a poem about internet dating “Not a Friend Yet,” & a poem about poetic forms & painting style “Word Painting.” Both of Joan Gran’s poems had birds in them, “For the Birds” (in an April snow storm) & “Spring.” Thérèse Broderick read “Green” (on the color) which said were “inflections” or half-translations of other poems in French & Spanish. Frank Robinson read a philosophical/political prose piece from his Blog, “Plus Ultra.”

The house was packed with friends & fans for Tim Verhaegen, tonight’s featured reader. His reading mixed poetry & prose, all spiced with Tim’s profane & cynical humor. But he began with a tender memoir of growing up on Long Island, “Old People.” I have heard him read previously his obituary-styled caustic biography of his brother, “Charles Verhaegen Chronic Everything Sufferer is Dead,” but it still makes me laugh out loud, as it did everyone else. The on to a grim memoir about the house he grew up in, followed by an essay on questioning things & about his own unique way of believing in God. He ended with the exuberant piece about a balletic battle between geese & swans “Swans.” Time flies when you are having fun, & we were.

There were more on the open mic sign-up sheet, but I had to leave to get to a jazz show & missed them. But there is a whole season of more monthly readings here at the Pine Hollow Arboretum, 16 Maple Ave., Slingerlands, NY, Friday nights, pot luck at 6:00PM, reading at 6:30PM — bring poems for the open mic.

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