May 1, 2016

Sunday Four Poetry, April 24

You might think of this monthly open mic held in Voorheesville as “WordFest +” this month, following as it did on the heels of the week-long event in Albany. Dennis Sullivan was the sole host today, with Nancy Klepsch as the featured poet (who read at the end).

I ended up as first on the open mic list & read my revised “Labels & Names” (the “Love version”) I did on the streets of our nation’s capital, then for the season “What Passover Has Taught Me.” Paul Amidon read a poem about a grim anniversary “June Third,” then lightened it up with the humorous “Minor League Poet” — hey, it’s good just to be in the league. Dennis Sullivan read about a visit from the ghost of Thomas Merton (“The Visitation”), then, after a brief discourse on language, a poem to his grandson “Birthday Song for Patrick.” Joan Gran, a retired librarian, read just one piece “Rape of the Library.”

Jonathan Bright read 2 poems from his phone, “If Pyramus & Thisbe had Lived in the 20th Century & Survived” (cf. Ovid) (they would’ve been into the Cure), then a work-in-progress “Embryo.” Lloyd Barnhart’s 2 poems were both inspired by memories of his grandfather, “Just Wonder” & “The Stream” (a life lesson). Howard Kogan’s first poem was “The Fall” (an accident, not the season), then a funny rhyme “Bits & Pieces,” & one about an Hasidic friend who lives among “Miracles.” Mark O’Brien began with a short poem-in-progress about looking for a wedding dress with Gail (I guess neither of them is superstitious), & a poem about an unpleasant encounter during his trip to Ireland, “Cousins.” Tom Corrado’s “Screen Dump” du jour was #286 ("The Paradigm Shift"), mixing up stomping grapes & Anne Carson.

Tim Verhaegen reprised the outrageously funny poem he did Friday night at the WordFest Open Mic, complete with show-&-tell photos, “Talking Shit About Eileen Myles & Other Famous Gay Poets…”  Joe Krausman returned to the theme of “names” with his poem “What’s In A Name?” (contra-Shakespeare), & another piece titled “At This Threshold.” Karen Fabiane said her poem “Portrait of a Frankenstein Monster” was written in 1978, but finally published only recently in the online journal Misfit, also read “Andalusian Girls” the title taken from the feminist writer Alison Bechtel. Thérèse Broderick ended the open mic portion of the afternoon with a poem about her father, who was an artist, “Growing Up With Angles.”

I hear Nancy Klepsch read her poems almost every month at the 2nd Sunday @ 2 open mic at the Arts Center of the Capital Region in Troy, but it is only 1 or 2 poems at a time. Today we got to hear her stretch out a bit as the featured poet. She began with an elegy for a cousin, a poem of grief & mortality, but then on to something lighter, a pastiche of “Howl” about the gentrification of Troy “Kvetch.” The poem “The Invisible Lesbian” was, like Tim’s poem, inspired by Eileen Myles, then a dual-voice piece with Jil Hanifan, “The Negro Traveler’s Motorist Green Book.”
Nancy has been writing a series of poems with a character named Rubylith (after a brand of masking tape used in graphic design) & today read 4, including one with Lith (another poem was titled “When Rubylith Changed Her Name to Lilth”) as a teacher, as is Nancy. The poem titled “My Cells” has the author lost in cyberspace, another poem was a meditation on the years in a relationship, while “Non RePro Blues” was about break-ups. “The Queer Horse” (from Robert Frost’s poem) was published in the 2015 Up The River (Issue 3); “Spicey Girls,” a long memoir-like piece, took its title from a Joni Mitchell song. She ended as she started, with an elegy that became a meditation on prayer & words, its food images taken from a chef’s world. A wonderfully varied & far-reaching sample of Nancy’s fine work, that continues.

Sunday Four Poetry takes place on the 4th Sunday of each month at 3:00PM in the Old Songs Community Center in Voorheesville, NY, but will be taking the months of July & August off.

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