April 29, 2016

WordFest 2016 — Open Mic, April 22

WordFest had its beginnings as an open mic & the festival has been faithful to this each year with a huge, sometimes marathon, open mic, this year — again — at the UAG Gallery on Lark St. Mary Panza, with help sometimes from her daughter, Julia, served as host, ring-master & dominatrix. Each poet had 5 minutes, some took more, some less, but nobody overdid it, a tribute to the fear that Mary strikes in the heart of long-winded poets.

Alan Catlin began with, of course, bar poems, & a bus stop poem. Tim Stowell admitted he was a poetry virgin & read a sensitive piece “I Thought I Was Aware” about someone dying. Sally Rhoades had a trio of poems that included ones about Joy Harjo & about a full moon. Carole Rossi read about Nature & witches. Nancy Klepsch unwittingly set up a theme with one of her poems “The Invisible Lesbian” from a quote by Eileen Myles. 3 year-old Molly Job made her first attempt to read a poem, then froze (but came back later). In the vaudeville tradition of “you don’t want to follow the kid or the dog act” I was next with a trio of new poems. Don Levy was his political self, warning tongue-in-cheek that “Obama is Coming for Your Guns.”

Tim Stowell on camera
At this point we experienced the first of the traditional no-shows, but there are always poets waiting in the wings for their chance to fill in. Joshua B. stepped up with a just-written  rhyme & then a free-style rhyme. Shannon Shoemaker read the poem she had read at the first WordFest in Thatcher Park. Returning to the theme introduced by Nancy Klepsch Tim Verhaegen did show-&-tell with photos as he read “Talking Shit About Eileen Myles & Other Famous Gay Poets by an Obscure Unknown Gay Poet.” Frank Robinson was hopeful about America & about waking up this morning. Thérèse Broderick read poems about her daughter when she was little. Cheryl Rice’s poems mixed Frida Kahlo & her family, & an old soldier’s story of World War II.

Ed Rinaldi lurking
Tess Lecuyer read a villanelle for Thom’s dog Lilly at the 2010 WordFest. Brian Dorn told us the “23 Reasons Why This Poem Doesn’t Rhyme.” Allison Davenport, a new voice, read poems that she has never read to anyone about her husband’s illness. A.C. Everson who spent the evening in the front row filming the readings, read poems about working in a nursing home & about being an usher at area concerts. Anthony Bernini read about hawks & about glioblastoma. L-Majesty decided at the last second to clean up his act & included poems on food & on his father.

Molly Job, with ample assistance, finally got her poem out (which I hope AlbanyPoets will publish on its website because I missed it). Jonathan Bright read quirky poems about binge-watching TV, & college weirdness. Siobhan Hotaling was another new voice, with poems on food & sex, love & a snake in her bed (sounds ready for more open mics). Steven Minchin read poems about/from “Ever After.” R.M. Engelhardt was, of course, very serious about Poets & Poetry. But he was followed by Annie Sauter who was both sexy & read about sex. Karen Fabiane’s poems were more cerebral & stream-of-conscious. Julie Lomoe read about the local library’s book sale.

Siobhan Hotaling
To fill in for a couple more no-shows, Mary Panza brought up 2 women she had met at the Monday night reading at the Hudson River Cafe; Mary Dickinson Compton read about looking out the window & pondering the letter “I;” her friend Janie Oliver read a couple of self-assertive pieces. Still another new voice was Christine Walkuskie read a Whitman-esque, expansive poem about the New York City subway.

Ed Rinaldi came in from lurking outside & used his hand to count out the rhythms of his poems. Robb Smith brought us to a X-rated close by introducing his new book, available on Amazon.com, Granny Porn (some of us are getting there).

What a night of community poetry! A truly open open mic, with lots of new voices, ranging in age from 3 to 73 (or perhaps beyond).

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