June 21, 2016

Arthur’s Market Open Mic, June 8

A new pattern to my 2nd Wednesday of the month — to Schenectady’s Stockade Section for poetry. Our host, Catherine Norr, began the night with an original song that asked (& answered) the question, “Why would you take an artist?”

Shayla C. began with “Chill” playing on words, then a piece prompted by going through her mother’s things “Not Welcome.” Alan Catlin also read about memories, but this from his student days at the time of the Kent State killings in 1970, then from his latest book of poems American Odyssey (FutureCycle Press, 2016) “Our Lady of the Appliances.” B-K Tuon read a poem about his daughter at 9-months dancing to music & into her imagined future “Bieber Fever.”

The venerable Malcolm Willison began with a discussion about the poet Elizabeth Bishop, how he is reading all of her work, & about her house in Brazil, read his own poem about that house, “Casa Mariana,” then “Elizabeth Bishop Takes Another Trip.” Donna Lagone’s first piece “Puzzles” was based on pictures of the dead in Viet Nam, while her second poem was less grim, about a conversation with a loon (named Margot). J.J. Johnson read 2 poems addressed to his “muse,” “Thunder Rumbles in Space Silently” & a poem in which he rhymed “lofty” with “poetry” titled “Metaphorically Inking.”

Catherine Norr described the featured poet Donna Dakota (aka Donna Wojcik) as an enthusiastic member of the local poetry community, an avid workshop member & leader. She began with a poem for her daughter, another titled “Come Hell or Hygiene,” others written while driving (she says she writes on her windshield with a washable marker, but that’s a stretch too), a poem titled “Zen Doodle,” & another from a series of love poems to a person she has not met. But her form of choice, suited to her short, pithy style, is what she calls “bargain basement Haiku,” improvised poems written on postcards to other poets, some philosophical, some just plain silly, & she read a representative cluster, with often amusing titles, such as "God Sets the Bar."

After a short break, Catherine Norr read a couple of her own poems, one styled after ancient Chinese poetry “To a Friend,” then the descriptive “Deck Overlooking the Fish Pond.” Sydney Lussier read a poem about hugging her younger brother “Jacob,” then an untitled piece on insomnia.

Felicia O’Neal said this was her first time reading, but she performed well a self-assertive piece about this girl, herself. I followed with a poem/essay “Believe, Believe” about Bob Kaufman’s poem with the same title. Jackie Craven read what might be described as an eco-poem, or what she called “a strange weather poem” that was about remembering her mother. Jonathan Colón read an illusive poem about god & rain. Raph, who got inserted into the list at the last moment, read an untitled notebook jotting. Colleen Wygal, who serves as a mentor to some of the younger writers, played on words in “Your Honor.” And that was it for this 2nd Wednesday in Schenectady.

But this open mic, with a featured poet, takes place each 2nd Wednesday at 7:30PM in Arthur’s Market, 35 North Ferry St., Schenectady — check it out.

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