May 9, 2016

Singing in the Dark: Poetry of Courage & Witness, April 30

Dawn Marar, Linda Sonia Miller
A fitting end to National Poetry Month was this last reading in the Rensselaerville Library’s 11th Annual Celebration of Poetry Month, held at the Carey Center for Global Good. There were 30 (!) readers scheduled, with a few no-shows, each reading 1 or 2 poems each. With minimal-to-no introductions the afternoon moved right along. Poets Dawn Marar & Linda Miller welcomed us, then a traditional native acknowledgment of the Earth & space by Dianne Sefcik.

Part One began with Daniel Summerhill, the first of the 4 “featured poets,” with “I, Too, Sing America (after Langston Hughes)", & his moving take on a nephew’s autism “Ode to Elijah.” Marianne Rahn-Erikson “How Granny Got Loose.” Leland Kinsey’s graphic poem “Shoveling Fish” was set in Tanganyika.

Jamaluddin Aram
Jamaluddin Aram is a young poet from Kabul, Afghanistan who is currently studying at Union College & stunned us with a poem titled “Annihilation,” then one about the visiting the site of the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan.

Then there were a series of regional poets reading one poem each. Some read the work of others, such as Tim Miller reading Claudia Rankine, Zeva Greendale reading Langston Hughes, Jeanne Finley reading Yassin Aref, Diana Dietrich reading Jimmy Santiago Baca, & Tony Guadagno & Pat Frik reading C.P. Cavafy.

Poets reading their own work were Charlie Burgess (“The Madman”), Dawn Marar (“Manna from Heaven”), Linda Sonia Miller (“We Walked”), Christian Matthew Harris (“Soul”), & Marilyn McCabe (“One Coat”).

Dianne Sefcik
After a pleasant break with snacks, & a cash bar, Part Two began with Victorio Reyes with “Rant (this is not a poem)” & “Rant Part 2.” I followed with my take on the invasion of Iraq in 2003 “Baghdad/Albany.” Nancy Klepsch read “The Invisible Lesbian” then I joined her for a 2-voice “The Negro Travelers’ Motorist Green Book.”

Karen Greendale read a poem by Adam Zagajewski, John Arrighi a poem by Michael Robinson, Richard Ronconi & Joanna Bull one by Juan Felipe Herrera in both Spanish & English, & Sharon Costello a poem by the recently gone C.D. Wright.

(Photo by Petra Marar)
Poets reading their own work were Dianne Sefcik, Lynda Wisdo (an intense piece on sex abuse), Robert Nied (“My Mother Knew Cruelty”), Curtis Flach (“Friends”), Claire North (“The Place to be From”, with a long epigraph), & Philomena Moriarty (a poem to the victims of Hurricane Katrina).

This program was the finale of a month-long series of readings & workshops, including a reading of Cowboy Poetry & a reading of Nature Poetry, up in the hilltown of Rensselareville, sponsored by the community Library, & run by volunteers from the town.

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