March 31, 2016

Poets Speak Loud!, March 28

Tonight, the towering figure of Jon Drucker made an historic return to the Albany poetry scene where he had made his mark 20 years ago as poet, performer, publisher (The Greenhell Gazette), & candidate for Mayor. First, some dinner, drinks, & little open mic, with our host Mary Panza.

I was first up to read a new poem-tribute to Don Levy’s series Live from the Living Room “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” then, because it mentions Jon, the historic poem “Where Were the Professors?”

Sylvia Barnard, wearing a souvenir teeshirt from Sicily in honor of Mary Panza, read her poem “Guernica” now with a revised ending, & a new (1st draft) poem “Anna” about the only female prophet mentioned in the Bible. Ian Macks, enjoying the antics from the side of the room, read what he said as a “semi-happy” poem “2 Years Later,” then the more grim “Thursday Third Degree Burns” about the sadness & futility of speed dating. Tess Lecuyer had been going through some old folders & found one with poems from a class on formal poetry she had taught, & read 2 (by someone else), a Star Trek pantoum, & “A Ballade for Tess.” Don Levy read his memoir piece “Prose Poem for Karl Gluck,” then a new poem based on a photo that has been making the rounds on Facebook of an old lady giving the Nazi salute at a Trump rally, “Nazi Soccer Grandmother.”

Jon Drucker commented as he started his reading that he hasn’t read in Albany in 20 years, then paid tribute to many of this town's gone poets. He has a new book of poems Oneironaught: Collected/Selected/Rejected Poems & read mostly from that, beginning with “Train Wreck,” an unflattering portrait of a drunk woman, then the more pleasant narrative, “Pablo,” about a conversation with Pablo Neruda (which Jon said was the only poem in the book that has been published previously). Then on to “Unmade” (the bed), “We Shared a Whiskey,” & “Rule” combining megalomania & laundry. Then a couple poems for his next collection, one about leaves, the other about relationships as math, as changes, “Nowhere Mathematics.” He ended by returning to the book for “Rollercoaster.” Good to hear Jon’s work again. Oneironaught is available as a Kindle & in print format.

Annie Sauter brought her own clip-on light to help her read what she described as 2 Colorado “trailer park poems” (I certainly know about “trailer park poems”!), “Zero Vector” & “Feeding the Cats.” Karen Fabiane, who is a future-feature here (& elsewhere) read a poem about the dead & the living “Voice Under a Cold Moon,” then a poem from the recent “Pocket Poets” style anthology 2 “This Hardship of Loving.” Shannon Shoemaker read 2 brief poems, the new “Unrequited” & the strutting & ranting “Poem for the Open Mic.” Adam Tedesco can be quite grim as he was again with his 2 poems tonight, with “The Third Man” a take on moralistic/behavioral children’s books, & the equally grim “Sanctions.”

Julie Lomoe, another future-feature sang a tribute to the band The Eagles & Glenn Frey, the pastiche “Painful Queasy Feeling.” Avery read the classic movie speech by Charlie Chaplin, “the Great Dictator Speech.”

Another throw-back to the early years of the Albany poetry scene, R.M. Englehardt, ended the night with 2 of his classic poems from the era, “Jesus Saves” (set in a bar, of course), & a vehicle for grand pronouncements, “Interview with The Poet Isolationist.” A fitting throw-back to those (I think?) thrilling days of yesteryear…

The rest of the time Poets Speak Loud! happens on the last Monday of the month in the backroom of McGeary’s on Clinton Square in Albany, NY, about 7:30/8:00PM, check for complete information.

March 27, 2016

Juan Felipe Herrera Reading, March 23

I am usually indifferent to, if not mildly annoyed by, the selection of the Poet Laureate of the United States. Back in 1991 I actually penned a column for Metroland, the former entertainment weekly here in Albany, NY challenging Joseph Brodsky’s program of “bringing poetry to the people” by inviting him to the ongoing monthly open mic at the QE2 in Albany where the people were already doing poetry. But the recent selection of the activist poet, Juan Felipe Herrera, to that position was one that I felt well-represented the “community poets” in the world that I spin in. I plan to attend the Split This Rock Poetry Festival later in April in Washington, D.C. & was pleased to see that he would be giving a reading on April 13, the night before the official start of the festival. Then I was beyond thrilled to see he would be reading at Skidmore College this night — I’m not only there, but was there early enough to get good seats in the 4th row, with one of my favorite poet/lady friends.

It was not just a reading, but the College conferred upon Herrera an Honorary Degree. This was preceded by the requisite stuffy introduction by the Director of the Latin American Studies Program, who in introducing Herrera & bringing him to the stage, referred to him as “the Poet Laureate of the United States” but did not use his name until presenting him to the President of the College for the Honorary Degree. Then Herrera, who was wearing the requisite black academic gown, was obviously surprised when the Dean of the Faculty actually placed the academic hood over his head. To add to the comedy, as Herrera was left to start his reading, he asked, deferentially I thought, if he could take it off the gown & hood, which he did.

His reading & interaction with the packed audience of the Gannett Auditorium of Palamountain Hall was equally relaxed & playful. He told an anecdote about his father learning English in the fields as a migrant worker by paying a fellow worker a penny per word, then in a great gesture of compassion for the students in the audience read from his notebook a poem about Will Golden the Skidmore student who had died recently in a fall.

“Like a peddler just opening his sack,” Herrera pulled a stack of books from his bag & began with a poem from Laughing Out Loud, I Fly (1998), which he described as written in the style of Picasso’s poetry, leading the audience in repeating the Spanish in “The Enchildadas the Butcher Gave Me.” His reading was bi-lingual sharing where he would translate/explain the Spanish words & phrases that are his poems making a bridge between cultures & languages to share with his audience, as in the 70s era poem “Let Us Gather in a Flourishing Way” that he translated as he went along. A good single source is Herrera’s Half the World in Light: New & Selected Poems (2008), his poems ranging from the post-Rodney King riots, to film noir (“8PM”), to one titled “I Found Myself in the Studio of a Tabla Master,” another, about Marc Chagall, “19 Poklonskaya Street.”

The poems from Senegal Taxi (2013) take on injustice in Africa in the personae of not only a young girl & a boy with one eye, but also in that of a village fly & a Kalashnikov. He included poems from the recent City Lights collection Notes on the Assemblage, “I Do Not know What A Painting Does,” “Jack Rabbit, Green Onions & Witches Stew,” & “The Man With the Choke Hold,” ending with an animated performance of the 3-voice piece “The Soap Factory.”

I turned to my companion, who has often accompanied me to readings by well-known poets in this very auditorium, & we both said that this was by far the best reading we had heard here in this room — lively, engaging, playful, warm, real poems for the real world.

Gracias, Juan Felipe Herrera.

March 21, 2016

Third Thursday Poetry Night, March 17

It was the tail-end of St. Paddy’s Day & although there was no such holiday-related theme I did invoke the 100th anniversary of Ireland’s Easter Rising by reading the lyrics to “The Foggy Dew,” & we were blessed by the presence of 2 Irish poems, one of whom actually read in the open mic, Philomena Moriarty & Pearse Murray.

First up was Philomena who said she came to America when she was 5 years old, in 1958, then read a poem, “Shape Shifting,” about a story her mother & her priest exchanged, & the fairies of Ireland. Sally Rhoades read a new poem written on Key Biscayne beach “The Crescent Moon” about being herself. Carole Rossi was back yet again with a poem written today “Grinding” stream-of-consciousness. Joe Krausman talked about Irish superstitions then read his poem “4” on insomnia (as in 4:00AM).

Tonight’s featured poet was Annie Christain, a young poet whose work I wasn’t familiar with until she contacted me about doing a reading. She has a book coming out in May from C&R Press, Tall As You Are Tall Between Them. Her first poem, “The Sect Which Pulls the Sinews,” was about the conflicts in the life of a Gay/Chinese/Jewish man, the first of many persona pieces. All her poems had such interesting contexts that her introductions were often as compelling as her poems, as in the poem “Watching Ourselves from Afar…” based on a Dali painting, & another that sprang out of her experience teaching in Nanjing, China, a complex bit of surrealism “LAPD Blue Child & Low Daily Rates & No One Was Killed in the Square.” Another from her experience teaching, this in South Korea, was the playful “Thorns to Rescue their Bodies.” “Pretending to Go & Come from Heaven by Fire” was more word play from a workshop exercise, while “Inside a Hand Basket in the Burlesque Theater” was an earlier piece imagining a dancer with no legs. Another poem was about a character under mind control, more surrealistic leaping & twisting, as in the poem “A Maple Gets Red” based on photos from the honeymoon of John Lennon & Yoko Ono. A more personal poem was “I Took to Walking Down the Middle of Highways to Avoid Getting Shot,” with a string of epigraphs from the Bible. She ended with another early, sound-poem, using phrases & references from dictionary entries done up in a love poem, “Done When No Longer Pink Inside.” Check out Annie’s book at the C&R Press website.

After a break I returned to the open mic with my Irish-themed poem “Sheila-na-Gig.” Sylvia Barnard read a St. Patrick’s Day poem from her book “Trees,” about taking her daughter to the parade in Albany. Cathy Abbott read a brief playful poem about a visit to Ireland in 1969. Karen Fabiane ended the night with a poem from her book Seeing You Again, the relationship poem “Fuck the Wind.”

Join us with a poem at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY on the third Thursday of each month, & always a featured reader, all for a $3.00 (or more) donation.

March 17, 2016


Today I go to McDonalds & I speak to a machine. & After I speak to the machine, the food comes. That’s America.
—Vanna Barba

I went to McDonald’s & ordered a Big Mac.
The clerk said that my number came up
that I was a randomly chosen customer
could pay for my lunch “with love”
I just had to say a poem, she said.
I recited my poem “Patriotism,”
it goes like this:
I looked at that girl
standing on the street corner
in tight red pants
a red, white & blue blouse
the blue field of stars across
her right breast, her left nipple
at attention beneath the red
& white stripes.
I looked at that girl on the street corner
that patriot in tight pants
and I think:
that’s the flag I want to fly
at the top of my pole.
The clerk stared at me. “That’s not
a poem,” she said, “it doesn’t rhyme
& that’s not patriotism. You’ll
have to pay for that Big Mac.”

2nd Sunday @ 2: Poetry + Prose, March 13

Because there was a theater production in the Black Box Theater downstairs where we usually meet at the Arts Center in Troy, we were upstairs in one of the studio rooms. It seems like everyone found us because there was a whopping 17(!) folks signed up to read. Nancy Klepsch & I were the co-hosts, as per usual.

Sylvia Barnard signed up first, “so I can relax & listen to the other poets” she said, & read 2 poems from her travels in Europe, “Guernica” (on the Picasso painting, now back in Spain), & “Grandchester, to Rupert Brooke & Sylvia Plath.” Peggy LeGee read a seasonal piece about Spring as a time of rebirth of plants & Nature, herself included.

Kate Laity read what she described as “a fairy tale,” written in 2014, long before the recent upheaval at the College of St. Rose, “The Sage, the Scholar & the Administrator.” Cathy Abbott paid tribute to the late Bob Foltin with a brief memoir titled “Leprechaun,” then a piece inspired by reading Patti Smith’s memoirs, paying tribute to the poetry scene here. Howard Kogan read a poem based upon Flaubert’s novel  Madame Bovary “To Gustave with Gratitude.” Mike Conner is prone to read seasonal poems, as he did with “Late Winter Rain,” then the descriptive morning poem “Coffee Tea & Me.” Bob Sharkey, who is a regular here (& at other open mics in the area) read a piece titled “Power of Words” based on the poems submitted for a contest he coordinated & financed, the Stephen A. DiBiase Poetry Contest, then summarized the results, particularly since a number of finalists & honorable mentions, & a Special Founder’s Award winner, Karen Fabiane, were in the audience; complete results are listed at the end of this Blog.

Jil Hanifan made a rare — & welcome — appearance & read 2 poems from a new series of post-apocalyptic poems set in Albany, “Yard Sale in Abaddon,” & “Abaddon #18" (as in the Delaware Ave. bus). Matt Ryan came back to read 2 poems in rhyme, one about the end of a relationship “Without Her Silence” & “Empty Inkwell” on the death of a loved one. Karen Fabiane, still reeling from the announcement of her win, read an old poem from the ‘90s about talking about the dead & living “Voice Under a Cold Moon” then “The Beerdrinkers,” a conversation in a bar. A.C. Everson finally got here, her poems about 2 very different places, “Heading South” about a trip to Prague, & “I Live Where…” about sirens, & shouting in the high-rise across the street from her apartment.

Dan Curley was here last month just to listen, but today he brought 2 poems to read, the first about going to the aquarium with his daughter “Against Sentiment” & one about his seat-mate on a flight “The Art Historian’s Revenge.” Pam Clements began with a Christmas memoir of her grandmother “Gingerbread” then taking a page from Medieval literature a “Charm Against Nothing.” Ann Rokeach’s poems were based on word exercises from the 2nd Tuesday Open Mic at the Colonie Library, “In Passing” (on the contents of her dresser drawers) & a piece about immigrants “They Come.”

My co-host, Nancy Klepsch, read 2 poems about her character/persona, the first titled “When Rubylith Changed her Name to Lith,” then the second about Lith as a teacher. Joe Krausman’s poems were characteristically wry, “The Man Who Invented the Comma” (& throwing in the parenthesis, equal sign & the period), & “Spring Cleaning.” Sally Rhoades read an extended prose story/essay “Dancing with the Redwoods” interweaving an account of a dying cousin with her own visit to a dancer/healer.

The 2nd Sunday @ 2: Poetry + Prose Open Mic continues on, yes, the 2nd Sunday of most months at the Arts Center, 265 River St., Troy, NY at, like I said, 2PM, & it’s free.

List of Awards and Finalists --- 2016 Stephen A DiBiase Poetry Contest

This contest had 303 entrants from 37 states and DC and from 9 other nations. There were 27 finalists which were ranked by the judges as follows:

First Place, bonus for community poet, bonus for local poet, $700: Beyond the Naupaka Hedge---Dawn Marar of Delmar NY
Second Place, $250: The Resolution of Neglect Syndrome---Jen Karetnick of Miami Shores FL
Third Place, $125: Plantation’s Corn---Paul Weidknecht of Phillipsburg NJ
Fourth Place, $100: On the Rising Prices of Corn at Festivals---Michelle Chen of Whitestone NY
Special Founder’s Award, $90: Now, morning…---Karen Fabiane of Troy NY

Honorable Mentions (9), $65:
• Stopping By The Columbarium---Jackie Craven of Schenectady NY
• Siobhan In Washington Park (age 46)---Sylvia Barnard of Albany NY
• Argiope Aurantia---Pat Tompkins of San Mateo CA
• American Woman---Lucia Cherciu of Poughkeepsie NY
• Don’t Read This One Out Loud---Merisa Dion of Derry NH
• A Brief History of Fun---Howard Kogan of Stephentown NY
• Shipwreck---Joe Krausman of Menands NY
• Earthquakes in Oklahoma---Lauren Elizabeth Delucchi of Washington DC
• Nondescript---Ashley Hyun of Tenafly NJ

Other Finalists:
• I loved you long before I even met you---Kirsten Textor of Lyngby, Denmark
• To a Child at Enlightenment---J.C. Elkin of Annapolis MD
• Winter Walk---Francis DiClemente of Syracuse NY
• Let Me View Life-The Way the Heart Feels…---Jennifer Circosta of Campbell Hall NY
• “all told”---Joel Best of Niskayuna NY
• Inside the Picture Frame-For Aiyana Stanley-Jones---Keli Osborn of Eugene OR
• Missing you---Carol Kloskowski of Christmas MI
• Sad Nymph---Betsy Butcher of Iowa City IA
• Richard Nixon Must Die (for all the victims of the War)---Dan Wilcox of Albany NY
• Salt Is The Spice Of Life---Philip Good of East Nassau NY
• modie badanov---Canon Pau of Los Angeles CA
• On a Night With a Poet---Sally Rhoades of Albany NY
• Meaning of Man---Erin Gillett of Los Angeles CA

March 10, 2016

Live from the Living Room — the Last Dance, March 9

Don Levy has run this reading & open mic series at the Pride Center of the Capital District in Albany, NY on the 2nd Wednesday of each month since February 2003. He has recently taken on other poetic duties, including writing regular book reviews & Blogs for the AlbanyPoets website & he decided it was time to hang up his runcible hat. He went out in a gay blaze of glory, with many poetry friends returning to celebrate Don’s years of supporting area poets.

The featured poet on this last night was Sue Oringel who also did her job by bringing some friends to her reading. She read from a manuscript of poems titled “My Coney Island” a poetic memoir & tribute to her parents who had lived on Coney Island. Food — they were Jewish — played a large part in her memories & her poems, as in “Not Just Any Old Food” which was about her grandparents & her father. “Song of Coney Island” (based on a Lorca poem) was a celebratory piece, while “Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, 4th of July” brought us back to food. Other memories of her parents were “My Father’s Workshop,” “Freud in Dreamland 1909,” & a poem about her mother as the French chanteuse Edith Piaf. “Last Responder” was an odd piece about a man sifting for remains in the ruins of the World Trade Centers, while “Olive Juice” & “The Fact of Actor” played with the sound of words. “Chopped Chicken Livers” was like a recipe as memory of working with her mother. Then on to “Poor Everybody” & the lush descriptive “Mom & Dad Barbecue in Heaven" (food again).  She ended in dreams, “where I began & begin again,” in the title poem “My Coney Island.” Rich, elegiac & conversational poems looking for a publisher.

There was a short break to pass the hat one last time, taste some chocolates, cheese & crackers (from Sally Rhoades) then on to the open mic.

I was first on the list (since I arrived with Don) to read my tribute to this series “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” (which you can read on this Blog).  Carol Jewell (the first of the 4 Carols of the night) read the sexy “Furtive,” poems like a beauty sought after.

A.C. Everson began with a look back to the weather of a month ago (unlike today’s unseasonably warm weather) with “Cold Feet,” then the short Zen-like “Bliss.” Our 2nd Carol, Carolee Bennett said she had a Valentines poem that she was going to read just to Don & the rest of us shouldn’t listen, but I at least caught the title “Prettier When You Smile.” Sylvia Barnard read again her abstract, scientific poem about cells in our body having a reunion, then from her 2012 poetry collection Trees “Poem for My 72nd Birthday.”

Sally Rhoades read her 2 poems from the recent anthology 2, “The Sky is My Witness” & “A Silence.” Another Carol, Carole Rossi read a poem from her project of 120 days of dreaming poems “Dreaming Day 95: Super Ego, Ego & Id Have an Argument While I Do the Dishes.” The final Carol of the night (I’ve never been anywhere where there have been 4 Carols) Carol Graser read a loving poem written for her son’s wedding “Dissolving the Distance Between You.”

Don has always ended the night as the last reader, often with a brand-new poem he had just cranked out, but tonight he instead looked back at this series & others he had done &, most importantly, thanked all the poets & listeners who made all this craziness worthwhile.

It’s important to note that future 2nd Wednesdays of the month will not be bereft of poetry since there is an ongoing poetry reading & open mic on that day at Arthur’s Market in Schenectady each month that now, finally, I will be able to get to. For details on that & all the other poetry events in the area check out the calendar on


Once upon a time in Albany
there were few concerts, few lectures
mostly drinking & bar bands
driving around in cars looking
for chicks, for kicks, for places to go
no poetry readings & no bagels.

Then poetry happened — the QE2
Borders’s, Stephanucci’s, the Lionheart
the Albany Art Gallery on Jefferson St.
Don Levy’s first poetry venue.
We had to go. Venues came & went.
Jefferson St. had a fire, the Gallery
moved on & so did Don.

“Absolutely Friday Night Poetry Reading”
at Lemily & Son International Gallery
until October 2002, then
“Live from the Living Room”
then the Gay & Lesbian Community Center
each 2nd Wednesday, starting February 2003
with Leo! & poetry regulars in the open mic
as it has been ever since, out of the living room
down to the Garden Room, like a
12-step meeting for poets.

Now there are plenty of events, conflicts
poetry every week somewhere here
even poetry in 2 places on the 2nd Wednesday
overlapping concerts, art openings
a lecture here, a reading there, conflicts
to be resolved, choices to be made
like picking out the right bagel.

Tonight is the last for
“Live from the Living Room”
as Don finds other poetry projects
to fill up his literary nights.

And tonight another conflict:
Should I go? to the last
“Live from the Living Room”
poets in the basement
of the Pride Center
or, Should I stay? watch
the Victoria Secrets Swim Special
near naked ladies on Channel 6.
Should I stay, or should I go?

March 9, 2016

Poets Speak Loud!, February 29

If this wasn’t a Leap Year this reading would have been last week, but here we were on another last Monday in the back room at McGeary’s, with Mary Panza keeping order & instigating chaos.

I was first up on the sign-up sheet with 2 recent poems, “Birthday Poem 2016” & the lesson for poets “Metaphor.” Sylvia Barnard started off with her poem titled “The Deer at Church,” then on to a piece written just today about our ancestral cells in our body having a family reunion.

Adam Tedesco read 2 poems from his chapbook mss. “Moon Over My Jammies,” one of which seemed to have something to do with the actor Powers Boothe. Carrie Czwakiel said she has know the featured poet for a number of years, & then introduced one of the night’s major themes, coming to terms with being a victim of spousal abuse, which was the topic of her poem “No More,” then she read part of an essay she submitted for a job working with abused wives.

& appropriately enough the featured poet was up next — Randee Renzi who said this was her first featured reading anywhere. Her pieces were about relationships, good & bad, & how one deals with them. The first piece was on sex & interestingly titled “Trout,” then an untitled screed to a rival for her husband. An untitled piece was about falling into love & sex, struggling with the relationship. “Catharsis” was her tour-de-force, a long piece performed from memory, again on relationship, finding the balance between being separate, but also needing someone to lean on. My hope is that we get to hear more of Randee’s work in the future as she moves from poetry as therapy into poetry as art.

Back to the open mic another new voice was Joshua Bauscher who performed both his pieces in at a fast, slam-style cadence, the first titled “Ode to Women” (or birth, it seemed), & the free-style “I Am All One.” On the opposite end of the experience spectrum was R.M. Engelhardt who announced a new website, The Bones of Our Existence, which is set to roll out later this year, & read 2 poems from it, “Forget the Dust” & one titled “Primitive” on one of his perennial themes: the Poet (& “this is not a poem”). Tim Verhaegen read a new &, as he termed it, “cranky” poem “Long Island Neighborhood,” then the contrasting 2-part “Wiborg Beach.”

Tyrone Hill had come to support his friend Randee, did both of his pieces from memory, the first a letter to his son from prison, then a love poem to Randee. George was also supporting Randee, read the funny “Time” a poem in "big" words. Karen Fabiane read a poem each from her 2 books, “How I Walked” & “Dripping Syndetic Tripiness.”

The Poet Essence made a rare appearance here with 2 performance pieces, “Mosaic Illusions” & an emancipation piece “I’m Not Mad at You” both on the evening’s theme of love & relationships & abuse.

Even without adding an extra day to the month, Poets Speak Loud! happens each last Monday of the month at McGeary’s on Clinton Square in Albany, NY, about 7:30, 8:00 with a featured reader & an open mic for the rest of us — check out the calendar on

March 8, 2016

Sunday Four Poetry, February 28

The next to last poetry event of February this year with much of the usual poetry crowd here, for featured poet Karen FabianeEdie Abrams was our genial host for the open mic.

First up was me, with 2 poems on death & dying, my new “Birthday Poem 2016” & the older “On Reading the Tibetan Book of the Dead” complete with bells & whistles.  Our host, Edie Abrams, in control of the list slipped herself in next to read a poem pondering the effects of shocking the brain for mental illness.  Joe Krausman read his 2 poems from 2, the anthology of writers who have read at the 2nd Sunday @ 2 series at the Arts Center in Troy, published by the new Riverside Community Press, “My Mother’s Wedding Dress” & Marilyn Monroe’s Dress.”  

Dennis Sullivan’s poem, a conversation with clerics, turned the cliché phrase “La plus ca change…” inside out, then a poem for Gregory Corso “The Sweet & Endless Season.”  Paul Amidon’s 2 poems delved into the past, “Dog & Cat” & “Ida & Len.”  Joan Gran, by special request from Dennis Sullivan, read a piece she had read here in November about a conversation with her grandson “The Unexpected Visit."

Kathleen O’Brien read 2 poems, “Grief Relived on Hearing of a Sudden Death” & “A Dollar in a Diner.”  Both of Tim Verhaegen’s poems were about the beach at East Hampton Long Island, “Gardiner’s Bay” & the long 2-part “Wiborg Beach.”  Brian Dorn’s poem “Tears of Lake George” was also about water & death.  Tom Corrado is up to #272 with his “Screen Dumps,” this one incorporating chess, pop culture & a “mute” section a la John Cage.

Peter Boudreaux, from up in the historic hill towns, read “My Rent War” about some archeology digging with a friend.  All the poets so far had stood at the mic but Mark O’Brien sat on the problematic stool to read a characteristically Irish-nostalgic poem about his ancestors coming to America, then a poem based on Deuteronomy 6:7 the poem marked up by fellow poets Dennis Sullivan & Alan Casline.  Bob Harlow had a mini-feature with 3 long pieces about his 3 wives, “Paper Swan Song,” one I think was titled “Lake McBride for 3, or How I Learned my Wife was a Lesbian,” & third long, self-indulgent piece whose title I didn’t catch.

Alan Casline began with a seasonal poem “With a Crescent Moon,” an older piece “The Possessive Plural,” & a kenning poem based on the nursery rhyme “The Cow Jumped over the Moon.”  Jonathan Bright showed up for the 1st time (I think) with some interesting work, a poem on rage & its source in animals, a piece on laws versus will titled “Neal is Trying to Write a Love Note” & something he said was based on the Anglo-Saxon concept of wird

Karen Fabiane was the featured poet today & she read from both of her books.  First from Dancing Bears (Bright Hill Press, 2011), “The Calm Time,” “Oceans Everywhere,” the narrative “The Woman Upstairs,” “There Was a Very Smooth Aspect to Her” (that Dennis asked she read again, & “Rain Today.”  Then from Seeing You Again (Grey Book Press, 2014) “Orphan,” “I Fucked St. Joan,” “Begone,” & the title poem.  Karen’s work is intricate, often with with leaps that make them a challenge on first hearing, but benefit from multiple readings.

Sunday Four Poetry is (usually) on the 4th Sunday of most months at 3PM at the Old Songs Community Center in Voorheesville, NY.  However, in spite of what you might read on their flyer there will be no reading in April, since it is Easter that Sunday, & you know how pissed the Easter bunny can get when others take over her show.

March 3, 2016

Third Thursday Poetry Night, February 18

Back at the Social Justice Center for tonight’s featured poet Brian Dorn, & the customary open mic for poets, 11 on the list. But first, the night’s Muse, sadly more muses this year as the roster of gone poets grows faster than months so far. Karl Gluck was a poet who was a key figure in the early days of the poetry scene here in Albany, & he left us at the end of January. I read his poem from Open Mic: The Albany Anthology (Hudson Valley Writers Guild, 1994) “Untitled: for Kevin Factor & Mary Ann Murray.” Then on to the open mic.

First up was Alan Catlin with a low-art ekphrastic poem on “Robots” based on a card set of cartoon creatures, a deep comment on American culture. Philomena Moriarty brought a bunch of poems & settled on one about going back to Ireland with her father one December to a sheep farm on Brandon Bay, “On Being Irish.”

Lynn Dean was new here with the result of a poetry challenge from the third Tuesday night poetry group at the Colonie Town Library “Unlucky 13” (retired elephants).
Dave DeVries is also part of the same group & it was his first time here too & read a poem “Borders for Marauders” (about the lines between countries & the meaning of race & nationality).

Our featured poet was one of the most peripatetic of local poets, Brian Dorn, who has been a feature at a number of regional poetry venues (some more than once), but this is the first time I’ve been able to feature him here. He began with a look to “Back in the Day” in rhyme, of course, & on to read the 1st nine poems in his book, From My Poems to Yours (The Liver Versions). The next was “Words” on his “intriguing art.” Speaking of words he set up cards on the couch behind him with a jumble of letters that he displayed one-by-one after each poem for members of the audience to guess the word & win a copy of his book. His poem “My Impropriety” is an apology, then the anti-war poem “Out of Whack,” & a biography of Jesus in just 5 stanzas “Three Days” while “Plain to See” is a love poem about subtle beauty. At this point Karen Fabiane guessed the word to be “Omaha," but not because of Peyton Manning as was Brian’s thought, but because of a Moby Grape song! Then on to the poem titled “No Comment,” followed by “Broken” a comment on female pop stars who have a quick success the downfall. He finished with the auto-biographical “Luck.” As he does, Brian's reading flowed easily from one poem to another, in rhyme.

After a chatty break I started off the open mic with my new poem “The Water Planet,” 1st time read. 

This was also Cathy Abbott’s first time here & she read a short poem to Patti Smith recommending the poetry scene here. Joe Krausman’s poem was the musical & philosophical “Why Play the Tuba?” Karen Fabiane read from her Bright Hills book Dancing Bears the poem “2 Parts of the Wayward Poem.” At this point a fellow named Tim, who said he was a plumber, wandered in from the street to talk a bit about his work, his drinking, his “simple world.”

Carole Rossi made another appearance here, explained she is writing a poem each morning as she wakes up & read Dreaming Day 80 (today) titled “Rummaging,” becoming almost metaphysical with images from a flea market. Jan Farrell hadn’t been here in a while & read a poem about holding the hand of her child from her new book The Angels that Passed. The night’s last poet was Sally Rhoades who reprised her poem about her mother’s second wedding & her funeral “My Mother Used to Pray.”

Each third Thursday of the month we gather at 7:30PM at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY for a reading by a local, or regional, even a national poet & an open mic for the rest of us. Come read a poem.