October 31, 2016

Troy Poetry Mission, October 26

This was the 2nd gathering (I’d missed the first) of a new poetry series at O’Brien’s Public House in Troy, run by former Albany poetry impresario R.M. Engelhardt. The reading took place in a ballroom-sized space off the main bar area. There was no stage, or sound equipment for that matter, so it was hard to decide where to sit, & where the readers would would perform. But we figured it out.

Rob began in the spirit of Halloween (he had brought a talismanic copy of the poetry of E.A. Poe but no one read from it) by reading a poem by Tim Burton about Vincent Price. As often happens, I ended up as 1st on the open mic list, also with a Halloween poem “Zombie Gourd” & one on the election day horrorshow “When Donald Trump Farts.” Brian Dorn approached Halloween with his poem titled “Dark in Me,” then the love poem “Her Attributes.” In the Halloween mode, Tim Lake read a poem about the deceased William Robert Foltin “Killing Frost Descending” then a memoir written in France in 2011 “Flexible Flyers.”

Speaking of France, Mary de la Torre was back in town in the guise of the gentleman assassin, Pierre Francois Lacenaire (1803 - 1836) complete with blood stains on her white, lace-trimmed blouse on her breasts with a poem read first in French, then in English “Blood Karma,” then an erotic poem “I Want.”

Tonight’s featured reader, the first in this new series, was long-time area performer Jason Martin. He began with a piece about growing up in the Adirondacks, as he said, “one of those stories that rhyme” with guitar. Not all of his pieces were with guitar, such as the anti-government eco-poem, “Effects Not Proven,” or the manic “Last Night at the Office” based on Bob Dylan’s “Stuck Inside of Mobile…” & speaking of Dylan Jason ended back on guitar with Dylan-style lyrics, accent & mumble. If there had been a stage, Jason would have commanded it as he did the wide-open space of this dance hall — & I wish I had video of his footwork as he played his guitar, the still shot just doesn’t do it justice.

R.M. Engelhardt brought us back to the open mic with a couple of his poems, “Insurrection in Bohemia” & the political preaching of “Dear Candidate.” Karen Fabiane actually descended even further into the far corner of the room to read her poems, first one written today “At Best” with cooking for a pot luck & a drum circle, & another, “Sometimes People.” Devon Simms recited & performed “Nativity,” a Xmas nightmare poem that included the smashing of a creche.

Ed Rinaldi showed up (he only lives a couple blocks away) to read “Hone In” inspired by a photo, & an eco-poem from his Blog “a recycling wishing bird is bones and buttons.”  Perhaps Matthew Sekellick missed Rob’s note on the sign-up sheet, “2 poems,” as he tacked on a few more after his first 2, which were just fine, the first a list of titles of plays he hasn’t written, & the political piece “Where Are the State Funerals For…” (the workers).

It was a fine night of poetry, but no Poe. This series is slated to continue on the last Wednesday of each month at O’Brien’s Public House, 43 3rd St., Troy — 7:30PM sign-up, 8:00PM (or thereabouts) start.

October 30, 2016

Poets Speak Loud!, October 24

This reading is usually on the last Monday of the month, but since that would put us here on Halloween, our folks moved us up to tonight. As usual, our host Mary Panza kept order — or fomented chaos, depending upon your point of view.

Sylvia Barnard had gotten here early for dinner & signed up first for the open mic; she read a recent poem with subtle rhyme about an old map of her home town in Massachusetts “Circa 1895”, then a new piece, “probably not finished,” musings from her trip to Portugal on “Lisbon.” Signed up as “Louise the Red,” Carolee Bennett was next with a poem inspired by clouds, “Billow,” then a poem about her father’s heart surgery “To Mend is to Scar.”

Julie Lomoe was a week early for Halloween in a punk-rocker fright-wig, all dressed up to read a memoir of her time on the Lower East Side “Ballad of the Rats” (2-legged as well as 4-legged varieties). Joe Krausman read poem titled “Larcrimae Rerum” (on Spring cleaning & “the attic of the brain”), then a poem pondering his origin “I Came From Where?” Don Levy read a couple poems exploring gay culture, “Bear Facts” & “The Origin of Brunch.” Shannon Shoemaker made a rare & welcome appearance to read an untitled break-up poem, then one titled “October” (with horses).

I’ve heard Annie Christain read her poems even before her recent book Tall As You Are Tall Between Them (C&R Press) came out. Her poems are compelling & complex so it is nice to have the texts to go back to after the poems fly by at a reading, & having heard her read from the book a few times now I’m beginning to know which of the poems seem to be her own personal favorites. Such as “The Sect Which Pulls the Sinews…” that opens the book. In spite of its title, I’m beginning to think “I Took to Walking Down the Middle of Highways to Avoid Getting Shot” is a love poem. Others she read included “Pretending to Go and Come from Heaven by Fire,” “Villagers Chop Them In Half Thinking They Are Snakes,” “Inside a Handbasket…” “M-K Ultra 2,” & “A Maple Gets Red.” Her poems are peopled by strange characters speaking of strange things — much like a poetry open mic, come to think of it.

Dineen Carta showed up once again to read the ironically titled “Love Story” & “Choices,” both from her book Loving the Ache: A Woman’s Journey. I followed with my pastiche of “The Waste Land” the baseball-themed “Octoberland,” & a true story from this year’s Old Songs Festival “Who Lost a Bra at the Folk Festival?” After Mark, our attentive server adjusted the light for her, Karen Fabiane was able to read 2 recent poems “Sometimes People” & “She’s Not a Kid Anymore.”

Robb Smith (who will be the featured reader here in November) read an excerpt from a novel-in-progress, from a woman’s point of view about a guy who is a pig (like any Presidential candidate we know?). Bob Sharkey read his poem in the “prong-horn” form “Holy Mother of God” then one titled “I, Man” on the innocence of Americans. Brian Dorn, the last reader for the night, read from his book seasonal poems “Changing Ways” &, what he said was the closest he had to a Halloweeen poem, “Dark in Me.”

This series will return to its usual last Monday of the month, here at McGeary’s Irish Pub on Clinton Square, Albany, NY, 7:30PM — bring a poem or 2 for the open mic.

October 28, 2016

Third Thursday Poetry Night, October 20

I was pleased to be able to offer to Charlie Rossiter his first reading since returning to the great Northeast from Chicago. In addition to traveling the Albanys of the USA with Charlie (& Tom Nattell) Charlie had fixed me up with readings in Chicago when he was living there. Before the open mic, as always, I invoked the Muse, tonight the sadly gone local poet April Selley, by reading her poignantly humorous poem “For Once, the Dwarf Gets the Girl.”

Richard Jerin started off the open mic with a poem from the 1970s “The Children of Thomas Station.” Joe Krausman read a true story “On Being Unemployed in my 40th Year.” Dineen Carta was here for the 1st time, read “The Dream” from her self-published book Loving the Ache: A Woman’s Journey.

Thérèse Broderick didn’t read a poem but announced her upcoming reading with the Breathing Lights Art Project coming up on November 4th & 5th when you can hear her poem about it which she didn't read tonight. Frank Robinson did read a poem, “Chicken,” instructions on how to play the game, so be it. Philomena Moriarty will be the featured poet here in December & tonight gave us a sample, with a new poem written today about Autumn “When the Trees Speak.”

Charlie Rossiter began his reading with “Up Early Reading Yang Wan-li” as an introduction to himself & his esthetic, then on to a poem from an early Albany workshop, “Yin,” imagining begin a woman (the title suggested by Tess Lecuyer). “My Billy Collins Poem” was just that, then a couple poems from his 2009 All Over America: Road Poems, including one of my favorites “It Was A Damn Fine Alabama River Wedding.” “Ceremony at the 42nd St. Library” was about reading Kerouac’s pocket notebooks in the archives, “Deep Understanding” about poetry, while “Who We Are & What We Want” was written to read at the Oklahoma Labor Fest in 2010. On to some poems inspired by Chinese poetry, from Cold Mountain 2000: Han Shan in the City (2014), from Winter Poems (2015), & from the recent Lakeside Poems (all from Foothills Publishing). As he says, “writing poems is a no collar job.”

After our customary break, I returned us to the open mic with one of my most recent poems, “The Poet’s Coat” (which I was wearing tonight). Sally Rhoades, who had complemented me on my new jacket, read the memoir/tribute “Sitting with Joy Harjo” (one of my favorites). I like the way Bob Sharkey pulls a folded up poem out of the back pocket of his jeans, tonight a descriptive poem about his hometown Portland, Maine, “Getaway.” Karen Fabiane read her latest poem titled “She’s Not a Kid Anymore” (none of us are, I guess).

Ed Yetto has also returned to the area & read a wondering & sometimes humorous poem “I Don’t Know.” Anthony Bernini could’ve been playing golf tonight but came to read instead, an eco-poem titled “Desert Rivers.” Tom Corrado brought the night to an end, predictably with one of his “Screen Dumps” this number 312 “After Apple Picking.”

We gather here at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY each third Thursday at 7:30PM with a featured poet & an open mic before & after, & your donation pays the feature, supports poetry events & the work of the Social Justice Center.

October 26, 2016

Albany Poets Presents! - Rebecca Schumejda, October 19

This bi-monthly series reconvened this night at Restaurant Navona on New Scotland Ave., Albany, NY with our host AlbanyPoets.com President Thom Francis presenting poet Rebecca Schumejda

While some of us dined & drank, Rebecca gave a reading from a variety of her chapbooks & book-length collections, beginning with “Rice” (from The Map of Our Garden, Verve Bath Press, 2009), another garden poem “From Seed to Seed.” From Falling Forward (Sunny Outside Press, 2008) a poem for her father “Workman’s Prayer.” Her book Cadillac Men (NYQ Books, 2012) was inspired by running a pool hall, with characters she read about with names like Micky Meatballs & Bobby Balls-In-Hand. Her 2014 collection from Bottom Dog Press Waiting at the Dead End Diner resonates with anyone who has ever worked or eaten in a diner; she read “The Accountant” & “No One Cares.” She is working on a new collection & shared a couple poems from it with us, “The Weed Wacker” & a piece about neighborhood characters “Our One Way Street.”

During the discussion & Q&A Rebecca talked about her early, pre-internet, publishing of a zine on Long Island where she grew up, & discovering the work of such local zine luminaries Paul Weinman, Alan Catlin & Lyn Lifshin. She was also asked about her early days of working at Friendlies; later, she said, when she was writing Waiting at the Dead End Diner she returned to waitressing part-time. In response to a question about the changes in her writing she said she is writing more personal poems now — “always me, always from my point of view” — rather than in the voice of a persona. She also talked about her working with students, the rewards & challenges & the potential for more poems in the future.

If you don’t know Rebecca’s work her books are available from her website. & with her now living in the Capital District I suspect you will be able to hear her read her work at local venues. Stayed tuned to AlbanyPoets.com for the next Albany Poets Presents!

October 25, 2016

Poetry, Painting & Discussion, October 15

Armando Soto & "The Three Drummers"
Maria Diotte invited me in the past to her eclectic art & performance salons but, up to now, I haven’t been able to commit due to other events I was attending. She invited me to be one of the poets reading tonight & I was available. This was held out in Latham (!) at Music To My Hair Salon on Troy-Schenectady Road, a spacious, bright place with a small performance space with an elevated stage. It was perfect!

Along 2 walls & the stage were the bold, colorful paintings of Armando Soto, who gave us a brief tour. Many of his subjects were musicians: Ray Barretto, Tito Puente, & “The Three Drummers.” There was also a tribute painting to the poet Pedro Pietri (1944 - 2004), & Armando read a couple of Pietri’s poems, including the classic “Telephone Booth (number 905 1/2)” & poetry by Pablo Neruda.

Music by Christophe Ragliacci (know as the clown “Rags”) with an array of shakers, tambourines, cowbells, other percussion instruments for the audience to accompany him.

The first poet to read was “Sauce,” Christopher Caulfield, who gave up part of his time for Devon who read a poem by Sappho. Sauce performed most of his pieces with a guitar. I was next & read 3 poems from 3 of my chapbooks, then ended with “When Donald Trump Farts.”

Jay Renzi, formerly of Troy, now ensconced in Boston (where his accent has become even more pronounced), read mostly short, epigramic poems, ending with an excerpt from a longer piece title “The Crown of the White Goddess.” Jay's best quote was “my favorite person to quote is myself.”

The next act was “Poetry & Percussion by Diotte Sorelle,” who were Maria Diotte reading poem/chants from her notebook while her sister Kristin played congas.

Following the break there was an open mic. The readers included Patrick Harris (who read twice), Devon again with a memoir piece of her own on gender issues, Paula, John who read a love poem which he said was the only poem he’s written, Ed whose children’s short story was longer than any of the featured poets, Michelle with a piece for her late grandmother written just today, & Kristin with a touching poem of sister-love for Maria.

A pleasant night of the arts in an unusual setting that worked well with the art. I hope to see more of these in the future.

October 17, 2016

Poets of Earth, Water, Tree & Sky, October 14

The open mic series at the Pine Hollow Arboretum in Slingerlands, with "the Bird," Alan Casline, as our host.

The first reader was Linda Miller with a poem about her grandmother “Disappearance,” then a poem, “Once,” in an invented form that she didn’t explain but seemed to be based on repetition. Bob Sharkey read Bob Dylan lyrics in a nod to the announcement of Dylan’s receiving the Nobel Prize in Literature, then his own poem “Holy Mother of God” on the proliferation of “Marys” in an Irish family, & his annual cento based on poems in the Best American Poetry 2016 “Plunder.” Mark O’Brien began with a poem based on a prompt for an appropriation, then one with a nod to the end of the baseball season, & another influenced by the poem Ed Hirsch. Alifair Skebe read a piece titled “A White Cast Iron Bathtub” something you’ve seen on TV advertising.

Diane Sefcik read “Hoodoos,” a poem responding to a prompt with a list of unusual words. A.C. Everson read 2 poems she had not read out before, “Plans” & “Symbiotic Summer” about her relationship with mosquitos.

Tonight’s featured poet was Dawn Marar who does not read out much so it was a treat to get a big chunk of her work. She began provocatively enough with a poem on sex & love, writing in the heat & bugs of Summer “Late Summer Missive,” then to a haibun, “Sparkles,” about early romance.
Dawn Marar & Alifair Skebe
With Alifair Skebe joining her, they read a piece built on 2 interlaced texts, 2 voices. Then a couple poems referencing the Middle East, first Jordan (& the UAlbany campus) & then one set in Istanbul, Medusa spooking the Christians. Speaking of which “Mystical Experience of a Modern American Woman” is poem in 11 parts, filled with Christian images, & “Ode to a Paper Clip” was about the writer’s dilemma. She ended, appropriately enough, with a poem titled “Endgame”, a ghazal on marriage & honeymoon & an escape from politics. We really need to hear her read her poems more often.

After a break (during which we lost a noticeable chunk of the audience, a characteristic of the Woodstock readers, but rare here), the next open mic reader, Marian DeGennaro read a simple, moving piece titled “Life” remembering a child leaving & the losses of a long life. Julie Lomoe’s piece, “The Angry Author,” was a screed against those who haven’t/won’t buy her books (but like I say, if you’re in the writing business to make money you’re in the wrong business). Joe Krausman began with a poem about the heart that is a drum & the spin & dance of the Earth, then pondered “What Kind of Death Will You Have?” in what season, & onto a piece about Spring cleaning & throwing things out.

Speaking of seasons, I followed with 2 seasonal poems, so-to-speak, “Baseball in Palestine” & “When Donald Trump Farts.” Our host, Alan Casline talked about his recent vacationing in Yosemite & Sequoia National Parks, & read some impressions inspired by Chinese poets, then a poem titled “Fig Trees” based on the Gospel story of Jesus cursing the fig tree, & a romantic poem for his wife, “One Day of Morning Rain.”

There is only one more session next month to this season’s reading series at the Pine Hollow Arboretum in Slingerlands, but we hope & expect that it will return when the snow is gone in the Spring.

October 16, 2016

Arthur’s Market Open Mic, October 12

Back in Schenectady’s Stockade Section with our host, Catherine Norr, for another open mic & a reading by featured poet Stuart Bartow.

First up on the open mic list was Richard Jaren who read a couple poems, “Song Bird” & “Ode to James" from his 1979(!) collection of poems Chronicles & Ice Cream. Alan Catlin read from his new collection of poems in-progress the poems “Home of the Brave” about misfit anarchist patriots, & “Finding Mr. Goodbar” (in all the wrong bars). I read seasonal piece, my baseball version of Eliot’s “The Waste Land” “Octoberland” & the Schenectady based-&-inspired “Zombie Gourd.”

Ginny Folger read “90” a poem that had just been accepted for publication & is in the voice of a woman in a nursing home. Similarly, Jackie Craven read a poem that is in the latest issue of Nimrod, “The Temperature Reaches 102.” This was the first time here for Sarah Provost who read an old poem, “Obie,” in the voice of a country singer, & “No Accident” about bad things done on purpose.

Tonight’s featured poet, Stuart Bartow, read from his recent books. He began with a poem titled “Bill’s Houses,” an elegy for a friend who made blue-bird houses, then one about a finicky radio “Aeolian Harp,” about sparrow’s in the Home Depot “To Ghost a Human Shape,” the wonderfully playful “Fishing with Cows,” & another about the magic colors in an attic window. From his latest book, Einstein’s Lawn (Dos Madres Press, 2015), he read “St. Francis in the Suburbs,” another fishing tale “Satyr,” “Moon Lust” (William Blake & Li Po), “Einstein’s Homework,” “Einstein’s Desk,” & “Ode to Buster Keaton.” A fascinating book that I just had to bring home with me.

Catherine Norr returned us to the open mic with a couple of her poems, a piece about a place in the Adirondacks “New World,” & a story of a confrontation with a spider in her garden, “Territories.” Susan Kress ended the night with a memoir of her family dying off “Using Things Up.”

This friendly, warm open mic takes place each 2nd Wednesday of the month at Arthur’s Market, 35 North Ferry St., Schenectady, NY, 7:30PM with a featured poet & an open mic for the rest of us.

October 13, 2016

2nd Sunday @ 2: Poetry + Prose, October 9

Troy’s Chowder Fest was only a bait-&-switch to this monthly open mic for all writers, but we had to move upstairs, not in our usual spot in the Black Box Theater — didn’t matter, we had 14 readers signed up.

Brian Dorn was first, reading from his collection of poems, From My Poems to Yours (The Live Version), “Changing Ways” (rhymes on love) & “Lessons.” I followed with 2 poems of the season, “Baseball in Palestine” & the political rant “When Donald Trump Farts.”

Dan Curly, who brought us a bottle of wine to share, read a romantic piece about making the bed “6 over 1” then “Be Prepared.” Kate Laity, the “prose interloper,” read the introduction from How to be Dull: Standing Out Next to Genius (by “Mr. Basil Morley, Esq.”) in which she cites Geoffrey Chaucer (& inspired a suggestion for an epigraph for my poem about Donald Trump’s farts). Mike Conner likes to stick to the seasons & read 2 Autumn poems, “That One Perfect Day” from the past, & “This Fall I Regret Nothing” written yesterday. Don Levy’s poem “Hate Crime” was about a gay-bashing incident in Brooklyn & was written as if a letter to one of the attackers, while “Adventures at Port Authority,” was bizarre, & all true.

Peggy Legee mashed together the tasks of picking political leaders & football players in her piece “Game” — & prompted discussion on a variation on football where the players were also cheer-leaders. Dave DeVries also read a piece about games “The Draw” then one about a dream of a day in which there was nothing to report in the news. Joe Krausman talked about the myriad topics he has used in poems, then read 2 poems on fences & walls, including notes left at the Temple Wall in Jerusalem.

Karen Fabiane has been busy, read 2 new poems (but said the 2nd one she is “not sure of…”), “Good Boy” on religion in the modern world, & “Sometimes People” a complicated piece of recollection. Howard Kogan read a poem in rhyme “The Warden” a theological piece about Adam & Eve. Sally Rhoades read about her reaction to the Republican National Convention, then an excerpt from her ongoing memoir, this about moving out in high school & going to Albany to study journalism.

Jil Hanifan read an old poem, a funny & exquisite pastiche of Allen Ginsberg’s “A Supermarket in California” her piece titled “A Botanica on Lark St.” R.M. Englehardt made a rare appearance here being the “serious poet” read “A Poem for Ben Lerner” responding to the article, “Why Do People Hate Poetry?” then in uncertain rhyme read about a Troy ghost, “The Legend of Johnny the Pumpkin Fucker” (& Jil suggested a title change to “Donald the …”). An uproarious note to end on.

2nd Sunday @ 2: Poetry + Prose takes place on, well, you get it, at the Arts Center in Troy, usually in the black box theater, but not always.

October 9, 2016

Caffè Lena Open Mic, October 5

Banned Books Week display at Northshire Bookstore
This night at Northshire Bookstore in Saratoga Springs, as the historic location of Caffè Lena is renovated. Our host, Carol Graser, started us off with a poem from the anthology Joe Bruchac tossed to her at the 100 Thousand Poets for Change a couple weeks ago. Then on to the open mic for a while before the featured poets, Judith Kerman & Adam Tedesco.

Kat was first with 2 short pieces, “You Say” & the related “I Speak.” I was next on the list & read for the Jewish holidays “Tashlich” from my chapbook Gloucester Notes, then a piece from my modernization of poems from Han Shan, the bitter “Open Mic.” Kate McNairy read her short poems “A Cup of Rum Tea” & “What Bodies.”

Dineen Carta confessed that this was her 1st open mic, but she was here with her self-published full-length collection of her poems & essays Loving the Ache, & read about being at a Summer festival alone (“Neon Summer”) & “Her” a sad poem at Christmas (She is the latest in a new phenomena of poets who publish a collection of poems before they even try their work out in the open mic world).

The 1st of the featured poets, Judith Kerman, read mostly from her new collection Aleph, broken - Poems from My Diaspora (Broadstone Books), appropriate poems during the Jewish high holy days, beginning with a Rosh Hashanah poem “Cholent” (a stew). Then to “From Pictures at an Exhibition,” “Learning the Haftorah,” & a memoir poem for her mother. She read from a series of poems as definitions, “Grief,” “Israel,” & “Pumpernicklel” (another childhood memoir). The poems “Erev Yom Kippur” & “Imagining Sukkot” returned to the season theme. “Global Positioning” & “Salad” both contained tomatoes, while “The Woman Who Buys Her Own Diamonds” had a dose of defiant humor. She ended with 2 pieces that she sang, “Star Nosed Mole” & “Deep Sea Diver” (not in the book). Good poems from a book worth having.

Adam Tedesco is an Albany poet, editor, publisher whose work intrigues & perplexes me. He began with a couple poems filled with burning & dreams, then one with ducks & geese, “The Fowlers.” He described his poems from his chapbook Heart Sutra (Reality Beach, 2016) as his attempt to “explode the heart,” in which his heart is a character/persona. Then a couple of poems playing on the visual, “Natural Light” & what is perhaps a love poem, on our aquatic place in the world, & a poem for fans of Guns ’n’ Roses. He included a couple of haibuns which would have surprised Basho, then read the lush “My Mushroom Poem.” He ended with what he called “a special poem” written on the 4th of July with help from his wife Lisa.

Back to the open mic with the return of Nancy Denofio who read an old poem “On Echo Mountain” a narrative with Heineken.

Margo Mensing talked about her work from his life series “Dead at My Age,” parts of which are currently at the Art Gallery at the Albany Airport, & her current subject, the poetry of Denise Levertov, & read 2 cut-ups from Levertov's collected poems “Not So Much Anymore” & a poem composed of only verbs “Mark Change.” Jackie Craven announced that her new book Our Lives Become Unmanageable was just published by Omnidawn, but read a poem from a recent workshop with Henri Cole, “In the Matter of Mies van der Rohe.”

Rodney Parrott read a poem in 4 parts about play, ironically delivered in his usual serious, thoughtful & decidedly un-playful manner. Avery, on the other hand, is characteristically playful, beginning with a nod to Adam’s chapbook with “What Is that Subtle Background Buzz” based on the Prajnaparamita Sutra (the Heart Sutra), then the enthusiastic “We Are the Sky.” Barbara Garro frequently ends up as the last reader, tonight read “Life Train” & a poem about walking “Nature Plays.”

This open mic series takes place on the 1st Wednesday of each month in Saratoga Springs, NY, & while the historic Caffè Lena location on Phila St. is undergoing renovation the readings had been held at the Northshire Bookstore on Broadway — but next month will be held elsewhere so stay tuned so you know where to go.

October 6, 2016

Nitty Gritty Slam — Open Mic Night, October 4

I finally made it back to one of the twice-monthly Nitty Gritty Slam poetry nights at The Low Beat. Tonight it was an open mic & I got there just as our host, Amani, was performing one of her pieces.

Poetik followed with a piece about being an outsider, then on to the enthusiastic “Hair Story.” One of Dina’s poems was titled “The Great Disillusionment” about the need to come back to ourselves, another, “Our Lady of Victory I Hear the Warrior Cry” was inspired by a visit to a church in Hudson. Claire read a trio of short pieces from a couple of big notebooks, about apples, potatoes & getting distracted. Illiptical, former member of the Nitty Gritty Slam team, was one of the only 2 guys to read tonight (the other was me), read 2 political rants full of noise & spit & spirit, “Consciousness Conformity” & a piece in solidarity with native people “Spirit of Kin.”

Leneea was uncertain about her titles, the first maybe titled “Death by Life,” then the not-so-sad “Love,” & the self-affirmative (maybe titled) “Trees.” I followed with an old piece from 3 Guys from Albany performances “I Thought I Saw Elvis” then a poem with a (hopefully) short expiration date “When Donald Trump Farts.” Marea did an a cappella song on racism.

The featured poet tonight, Olivia McKee, is a Slam performer with many of the signature slam mannerisms & phrasings, as in her first piece, “Drink” written for a friend. From there to a poem written today about a waterfall in her hometown, seen as a mother figure, then a piece on the New Age contradiction of a racist “hippy-man.” A piece on Israel’s “Birth Right” program was her most political piece, then she ended with 2 pieces on sisterhood, oppresion & speaking out as a woman, including her singing a bit of a hymn. A good performer with good material, not constrained by Slam conventions.

During the reading there were a couple, maybe 3, group poems/“exquisite corpses” circulating among the audience, readers & non-readers, to the point where I wasn’t sure if I was adding a line to a poem that I’d already written on. At the end Amani read one, then called up other poets to read the others. As the Surrealists of the 1920s found out, the randomness spinning on thin lines of connectivity are elements that many great poems are woven from.

The Nitty Gritty Slam takes place at The Low Beat on Central Ave. in Albany, NY on the 1st Tuesday (open mic) & 3rd Tuesday (Slam) of each month — pick your poison, or overdose on both.