August 22, 2017
For the last Monday (& the last day) in July we were at McGeary’s for the monthly open mic hosted by Mary Panza. The featured poet, Dawn Marar, helped to pack the house for her reading, but first part of the open mic sign up list.
Sylvia Barnard was first up with a “rabbit poem” with Roman references, then another animal poem “2 Blind Mice.”
Dawn’s husband Hani made his debut at a poetry open mic reading a poem someone else had written, “Efflorescence” a tribute to Dawn’s forthcoming chapbook of poetry. I read an older poem, “Obliteration,” a meditation on forms of burial, & the somewhat newer “Traveling America.”
Bob Sharkey has been collecting fortunes from Chinese fortune cookies & writing poems from them, & he read the latest, “It’s Fortune or Fame…” Karen Fabiane read a new poem written today, “Karen’s Steaks & Chops.” Julie Lomoe was celebrating a birthday (somewhere between 25 & 100), a country song & her garden “Sunny & 75.”
It’s always dark & wordy, with the smell of booze, here at Poets Speak Loud! at McGeary’s on Sheridan Square in Albany, NY on the last Monday of most months, 7:30PM — an open mic surrounding a featured poet, spurred on by Mary Panza.
It looked more fake than the real thing.
— Andy Warhol
The eclipse is on TV
the Great American Eclipse
they say. I listen to Sun Ra
“Space is the Place” of course
where else is there?
I like the New Moon best
because I have to believe
it is there each month
just as the clouds challenge
my belief that it is the Moon
blocking the Sun, not
just storm clouds rolling in.
On TV the 8-year old says,
“I’ve never seen anything like it!”
she has yet to see Prom night
the back seat of that Honda
a missed period, throwing up
in the last pew of church.
TV repeats the eclipse in places
no one goes to, instant reruns
the Sun & I have a Corona.
Watching the Great American Eclipse
on my computer is internet porn:
much better than the real thing.
In Carhenge Nebraska
200 miles from Nothing
239,000 miles from the Moon
who smiles to be so far away
93 million miles from the Sun
Someone says, “It’s like
watching Day turn into Night”
which I do each & every Day.
In my backyard, even the birds
think it’s just another cloudy day.
August 19, 2017
Carrying on the series started by Albany poet & activist Tom Nattell back in 1989, the poetry readings at the Robert Burns statue in Albany’s Washington Park were held this year on July 15, July 22 & July 29. While there were a few sprinkles of rain on July 22, that ended before the poets read, the evenings were mostly clear, the weather pleasant, the poets inspiring.
In her second set Karen read some poems from her military experience, many looking at the origin of words used in the military, such the poem “Enlist” on recruitment, “Kevlar” (invented by a woman) built on her memories of basic training, & “Discharge” on getting out. The short poem “The Army Smart Book: Inspirational Quotes” has a drill sergeant pondering the “breaking” of female recruits. She also included poems about war in other eras — an ekphrastic poem based on a woodcut “The Great Sacrifice of the Romans on Undertaking a War,” & the related poems “Civil War Reenactment” with her kids at a playground, a meditation on war, & “Sailor’s Creek Battlefield,” hummingbirds at a civil war battlefield.
Jay returned with “Pluck that Pregnant Dandelion” a philosophical piece about scattering seeds to the wind, the unfinished & untitled poem on the myth of Cassandra & Apollo as told in the Iliad combined with images from the Gettysburg museum, the timely & moving “Thank You For Your Service” on military suicides, & concluded with “The Clowns” considering comedy from ancient Greeks to modern times, enough to make you pee in your pants (or toga).
* * *
The second of the three events, on July 22, featured 2 local poets Ian Macks & Liv McKee.
* * *
The final Poets in the Park reading on July 29 once again featured 2 US military veterans, Suzanne Rancourt & Richard Levine. I had had the pleasure of reading with both Suzanne & Richard last Fall at the Bright Hills Literary Center in Treadwell, NY for a program of readings by veterans, “Writing War & Peace.”
More photos from Poets in the Park can be found at my Flickr! site.
Poets in the Park was sponsored by the Hudson Valley Writers Guild & the Poetry Motel Foundation, both ultimately supported by the generosity of local writers & readers — “Give us your tired dollars, your millions crying for poetry.”
August 3, 2017
Third Thursday at the Social Justice Center in the Summer — had to crank up the sound system a bit because the door was open letting in the sounds of The Street. Our Muse tonight was, sadly, the recently-gone local poet, Cathy Anderson; I read her poem “Hornswoggled” from the 2006 collection of poems from The Every Other Thursday Night Poets of Voorheesville, NY Poetry Don’t Pump Gas. A couple other poets from that group & in that anthology were in the audience.
In fact, one of them was the first up to read, Alan Casline, with a love poem about walking in the woods. Mark W. O’Brien was the other poet from that same collection, tonight he read a poem from a prompt in Bernadette Mayer’ workshop, a haibun memoir of catching a baseball hit by Yadier Molina. Samuel Weinstein was back with a long poem he said was written in the style of Allen Ginsberg. Our resident Andre Breton, John Thomas Allen, joined us with a poem titled “Behind the Green Door.”
After the break & the passing of the poet’s hat, we continued on with the open mic, & I read my entry to the New York State Fair Poetry Contest, “At the Silarian Cafe: Summer’s Best in Show.” Richard Jerin followed with his intro & then the poem. Jay Gaunt was a new name, read an untitled love poem. Rhymer Betty Zerbst was next with a poem about becoming a poet “Spreading My Wings.”
Every third Thursday there is a poetry open mic with a featured reader at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY. We start at 7:30PM & your donations support the SJC, the Poetry Motel Foundation & helps pay the featured poet.
July 23, 2017
Back among the trees, with our host Alan Casline to warm up the space with a little open mic before the featured poet, the Venerable Dennis Sullivan.
Joe Krausman got the #1 spot on the sign-up sheet & began with a poem about playing the silence “Cello Lesson,” then recited a short rhyme on Love. Paul Amidon read a descriptive memoir “Spring at Lake Abenaki” then a poem on aging & death “Double Down.” John Abuhl read his most recent poem “Repetition” (in Nature), then one on death written in May “Salvation,” & a short philosophical essay “We Seek the Everlasting.” Howard Kogan’s 2 poem were on related themes, “Reading as Writing” & “Poets at the Open Mic.”
After a convivial break, Tom Bonville brought us back to poetry with 2 memoirs of Troy & his Grandfather, “The Pull of the Water,” & “Fire on the River, Troy 1959.” Tim Verhaegen also read a memoir piece, this from 1994 dating black guys.
This series continues into November on either the 1st or 2nd Friday of the month, at 6:30 PM in the guest house/visitor center of the Pine Hollow Arboretum, 16 Maple Ave., Slingerlands — come early for the pot luck.
July 20, 2017
Back to Schenectady again & this welcoming reading series with our host, chanteuse Catherine Norr. First, some of the open mic before the scheduled featured poet, with Alan Catlin reading 2 poems with the same title “Last Night I Dreamed This Would Happen” both posted on the Blog 36 View of Ononta’kahrhon. Richard Jerin read 2 poems, like letters written to others, the first titled “Rebel Heart” with its images of Winter, the 2nd addressed to his daughter.
After a break, Catherine Norr returned with a couple poems of her own, one the story of her partner Dave’s Dad in Montana going off to war, the other a praise litany that she said was a “gratitude poem.” Susan Jewell read “The Myth of the Wild Oyster,” inspired by Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus. Jackie Craven read a persona poem in which a wife complained of her ill husband. Betty Zerbst read 2 poems inspired by the suicide of a young person, “Why, Michael?” & a sort of answer to that question “Deep Despair.”
This is the place to be on the 2nd Wednesday of each month in Schenectady: Arthur’s Market by the monument in the Stockade Section, 7:30PM — featured poet & an open mic for the rest of us.
July 18, 2017
It’s been months since I’ve been able to get to this weekly word scene at the Troy Kitchen, Monday’s are a busy night for me. But I always have good intentions to go & tonight I put the action with the intention. I was pleased to see that Ian Macks was the featured poet, who will be reading at Poets in the Park July 22 with Liv McKee. But first the open mic.
Our lovely poetic host D. (for Danielle) Colin got the words flowing with her poems, the first celebrating the color of her skin, black & beautiful, another on her quiet pen & listening to the other sounds around. I ended up first on the list (which gradually filled as the night wore on) & did my jazz “Saturday Hawk” & “What Makes America Great #20” from my series of True Stories of the Trump Era. Mz Tu performed her outrageous “Balls & Bitches” then a piece on anger “Poison & Venom” (one does not want to piss off this lady). Dawn Howard was visiting the area from the South & read 2 poems, both like religious or self-help preaching, “Flawless” & “Love Is.”
One feature of this venue is the “group poem” created during the reading, an exquisite corpse, that Danielle read at the end — & against the call from one of the food vendors “69, number 69!” as if it were a part of the poem, or at least an invitation. It’s a wonderful venue, but Danielle has the annoying pattern of asking us to applause as she reads the name of the next reader, which often overwhelms the announcement making the name inaudible.
Poetic Vibe is every Monday at the Troy Kitchen on Congress St., 7:30PM, for a donation that helps pay the featured poet.
July 9, 2017
A message on my machine alerted me to this event & with nothing else scheduled that night I drove down to check it out. I immediately found my friend poet & publisher Dayl Wise & we grabbed seats up front behind Andy Clausen & Pamela Twining, then we were joined by VFP Board Member & editor of the VFP newspaper Peace in Our Times, Tarak Kauff, & Ellen Davidson, photographer for PIOT. It was an evening of (mostly) poetry, with some music, prose & a video thrown in. The Woodstock Community Center quickly filled to capacity, with more chairs being added.
Yarna Martin followed with a political rant on the phrase “In Chief...” Michael Brownstein read from journalist Greg Pallast, then a series of his own pieces, from Kali Ma to “After Patriarchy Collapses & Capitalism Crumbles.” Peter Lamborn Wilson's little prose pieces challenged our way of thinking about everything, as he usually does. Chuck Stein, in identical black hat & cane a Tweelde-Dee to Peter Lamborn Wilson’s Tweelde-Dum, did a couple of pieces including the “Twin Lakes Goddess Poem.” Robert Kelly was led to the stage to read somewhat hoarsely from a long anti-fascist rant that included his editorial remark, “poets speak when no one listens - that’s how we know it’s poetry.”
Ed Sanders informed us this was the 50th anniversary of the levitation of the Pentagon by the Fugs & a gang of hippies & peaceniks during the protests against the Viet Nam war, showed a video of the White House & led the entire room in the chant “Out Demons Out!” Brenda Coultas read 2 poems, “If Whiteness” & a piece on fracking “A Gaze.”
In addition to the poets on stage, there were many other mid-Hudson poets in the audience — this was in Woodstock afterall. Let’s just hope that Ed Sanders’ chant — “Out Demons Out” — will take effect. Perhaps it just needs a few days to work itself down the I-95 corridor.
For more photos from this event check out my flickr! site.
July 7, 2017
In spite of my recent days on the beach, I was glad to be back among the poets of Albany & to settle in for food, beer & words at this raucous open mic at McGeary’s, with our host Mary Panza adding the spice.
First up in the open mic, Sylvia Barnard, read 2 sets of haiku, one on Nature & the Park, the other set reacting to a mix of places & events. I read my entry to the New York State Fair Poetry Exhibition “At the Silarian Cafe,” then another of my series “What Makes America Great” #20.
here). Then a rare formal piece in terza rima, based on Dante’s circle 8 of Hell reserved for flatterers & others of that ilk, & finished with a poem titled “Precipitate” published recently in Hoot Review. Seems like an interesting new voice for the area.
Poets Speak Loud! is a monthly (mostly) open mic with a featured poet each last Monday of the month at McGeary’s Irish Pub on Sheridan Square in Albany, NY, about 7:30 PM, but come early for good food & professionally poured drinks.
July 4, 2017
Alan Catlin read “On Hearing 2 Army Rangers are Killed by Friendly Fire in Afghanistan” a poem about the death of the football player Pat Tillman & it’s coverup. A new face & voice was Jon Conlan who introduced himself with “Ladies & Gentlemen” “…I’ve got something to say” a forward-looking political dream. Joe Krausman responded to a poem, titled “Joe Krausman,” that I had read last night at Arthur’s Market, with his poem “Dan Wilcox” a conversation in Heaven.
The poet best known as BK, who had been a featured poet here, was back to read a love poem about what poetry doesn’t do, & what it really is. W.D. Clarke read his historical ballad about the Battle of Greasy Grass, “Their Last Stand,” the Battle of the Little Big Horn from the native people’s point of view.
After the break I read my poem “Lew Welch in Albany,” inspired by a poem by Jordan Smith. Rich Jerin returned tonight to read “Relative Walker,” for which he read a prepared, poetic introduction. Rick Harrienger included handouts of “Parisburg,” a political poem he constructed this afternoon, having members of the audience each read a stanza. The last poet of the night Betty Zerbst said that her poem “Summer Dance” is proof that the other poets here tonight “write like guys while I write like a girl,” a piece in rhyme about deer.
Third Thursday Poetry Night takes place at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY each month, at 7:30PM, with a featured poet & an open mic for the rest of us.
June 29, 2017
This was one reading I had to be at — I was the featured poet. But then, I always enjoy going to this gathering of community poets hosted by Catherine Norr.
Richard Jerin was the first up with a short, “dreamy, romantic” piece, then a much longer work in 3 parts titled “Summer Winds.” Alan Catlin read 2 poems that recalled the draft from the 1960s, “College Bar 1968,” & “Veterans For Peace 1970 Revisited” (about recent Viet Nam veterans attending college).
Then it was my turn as featured poet. I had planned my reading to promote Inauguration Raga & read a number of selections from that chapbook, surrounded by other pieces. I began & ended with poems (#87 & #20) from my new series “What Makes America Great.” Also, “Joe Krausman” from boundless abodes of Albany (Benevolent Bird Press, 2010), an old piece recalling a buddy from my Army training “John Lees,” & “Shaken, Stirred” from Gloucester Notes (FootHills Publishing, 2015).
After the break Catherine Norr read a bouquet of American haiku on topics ranging from the attack on the World Trade Center, to language, gardening & few on her beloved mountain cabin. Bob Sharkey’s first poem was about observing the distress of a mother when no one shows up for her son’s pool-side birthday party, then “Boys” about visiting his hometown & Maine & wondering what he would be have become had he stayed. Betty Zerbst read a couple poems in rhyme, a prairie poem “A Splash of Pink,” & “Bits & Pieces” about a family reunion.
Arthur’s Market Open Mic takes place each 2nd Wednesday of the month at 7:30PM at Arthur’s Market at the monument in Schenectady’s Stockade section — a featured poet & an open mic.
June 27, 2017
This was the last session for the season; Nancy Klepsch & I will be back in September for our 8th year at the Arts Center.
Peggy LeGee read a new episode, “Enter the Shopping Cart Man,” to her dumpster cat graphic novel. Dan Curley’s list poem “I Wish” also included cats, & corporations, & more. My co-host Nancy Klepsch began with a biographical portrait of “A Shipbuilder,” then one about her father, with a title taken from Joni Mitchell, “God Must Be A Boogie Man.”
2nd Sunday @ 2: Poetry + Prose will be back in September on — you guessed it! — the 2nd Sunday, here at the Arts Center of the Capital Region on River St. in Troy NY — 2 poems or a piece of prose no longer than 5 minutes.
June 26, 2017
Another festive gathering of poets at the Pine Hollow Arboretum for the featured poet Dianne Sefcik & to read our own work in the open mic.
Paul Amidon read a couple of memoir poems, the first “Old Friends” about a 90-year-old veteran, then a piece about collecting the comics from “Bazooka Joe” gum. Speaking of Joe, Joe Krausman read his laconic “Freak Accident” & a true story “On Being Un-employed in My 40th Year.” Our host at the Arboretum John Abhul often reads philosophical essays, tonight read philosophical poems, “The Majesty of Being,” “Thoughts” (from 2009) & the recent “The Standard.” Mark O’Brien aka Obeeduid began with a piece on the birth of his granddaughter from his Blog, then to one for Michael Czarnecki’s forthcoming anthology of poems about Route 20, & one from Bernadette Mayer’s workshop “Frozen Cookies.”
After a break, the open mic continued with Tim Verhaegen reading a characteristically hysterical story of a recent encounter at a bus stop that brought back memories of parties & sex from the past. Our host Alan Casline read 3 poems about the South-West, the first “Gate Closed” about checking out a spring, another about looking for a poet’s house in Santa Fe, & the last about a clay turtle (the actual object in question passed around to the audience). Peter Bourdreaux read about hero anxiety “Yes No Maybe.” Tom Corrado finished off the open mic with still another in the infinite series of “Screen Dumps,” this #369.
Poets of Earth, Water, Tree and Sky continues at the Pine Hollow Arboretum, 16 Maple Ave., Slingerlands, NY into November -- usually, but not always, on the 1st Friday of the month.
June 16, 2017
Another packed house for poetry in Saratoga. Our host, Carol Graser, started us off with an early poem of Walt Whitman’s “O Me! O Life!” Then on to the open mic list.
Rodney Parrott read excerpts from Langston Hughes’s still poignant “Let America Be America Again.” Barbara Garro was dressed as “Mother Goose” to read 2 new Mother Goose rhymes, “Little Suzie Sycamore” & “It” (makes me wonder if Mother Goose does “it”).
Tonight’s featured poet was Alifair Skebe, whom I find it difficult to get enough of. In & around her own work she shared poems by others, such as Dwayne Wilder, Susan Deer Cloud, & David Landry. Her own poems included “With Tiger Force,” “Kerrville” (from the early Love Letters: Les Cartes Postales), & a poem based on Lucille Clifton’s “What the Mirror Said.” From Thin Matter (FootHills Publishing, 2017) she read “Mirror Riddles,” “Poem for ISI[S][L],” “Seen This Before,” “When I Died” (based on Emily Dickinson), “US War Production Board,” “Freedom,” & the tour-de-force political piece “The Dead & Dying Poem” after Muriel Rukeyser’s “Twentynine Poems.” Alifair also has a new chapbook just out from Benevolent Bird Press The Voyage of the Beagle, an excerpt (An Interlace Poem), short pieces using the text from Charles Darwin’s work, from which she read “Here You Are.” Always different & always worth hearing.
After a break, Carol Graser returned us to the open mic with her poem “Ghosts of Ambitions” on writing & being a poet. Carol Jewell read a very short poem (5 words) titled “Puzzle” then read “Poem without a Title.” Serena tempted us with the wonderfully provocative “Do You Want It?” in which she explored euphemisms for having sex, then a piece written to buoy up a friend “And So God Lived God Became.” It was good to see some of these regional poets like Katrinka Moore who doesn’t make it out to open mics to read, tonight “King Lear In a Nutshell.” Dawn Marar’s poem “On the Road to Damascus” was an ironic piece on danger from a visit to Syria, “Knots & Bolts” on seeing an old lover. Anna Feldstein, one of the Caffè Lena workers, read “Late Train” an unsettling story about an encounter on a train & remembering a father she never had. Maya read a complex love poem remembering a love “70 in February in Upstate New York.”
This reading is held each 1st Monday of each month in the newly renovated space of Caffè Lena on Phila St. in Saratoga Springs, NY, at 7:30PM — $5.00. It includes featured poets & an open mic for the rest of us.
June 10, 2017
I was in the mood for a night at The Low Beat & poetry. Turns out it was a “going-away-party” for Amani O+ who is taking the Summer off to work on Soul Fire Farm in Grafton (not that far away), turning the hosting duties to a couple of other women poets, including Mariah Barber, whose poem “Fuck Butterflies” Amani read to get us going.
In many ways it was rough night for my note-taking, with the names of the open mic poets sometimes lost in the background music, or not clearly said by the rotating string of guest hosts. I did the best I could.
I was first up, reading “John Lees,” a memoir of sorts of my days in the Army that I like to read around Memorial Day. Poetik began with a letter to Donald Trump, then “Grab a Chain” a piece on vulnerability. Then a string of rotating hosts introducing the poets, some of whom seemed to be known to others, but needed to be introduced themselves for folks like me who had no idea who they were. Victorio Reyes did his rousing piece “This is a Rant Not a Poem” parts 1 & 2, then he also had “An Open Letter to the 45th President.”
Nitty Gritty Slam continues each 1st (open mic) & 3rd (Slam) Tuesdays at The Low Beat, 335 Central Ave., Albany, NY — $5.00 (but if you are a student, ask, I think you get in for free).
June 7, 2017
The Albany Symphony American Music Festival was held May 31 to June 4 with multiple events each day. I decided early on that I would get a full festival pass rather than just attend 1 or 2 performance as I had in the past. By the time Sunday rolled around I had been to 7 performances from Thursday on, including this Friday evening poetry event. Poetry Theatre was held at the Troy Kitchen, where Poetic Vibe takes place each Monday. The event was run under the auspices of “Next Gen,” apparently a way for the ASO fund-raisers to tap into the affluence of the upwardly mobile millennials (I think we used to call them "Yuppies" back in the last Century).
For me, it was then on to EMPAC for the annual Dogs of Desire concert tonight & many more performances throughout the end of the week. Perhaps if the ASO decides to include a poetry reading as part of its annual American Music Festival next year they can be convinced to include some of the local wordsmiths in their program & attract local poets to their festival so that I won’t have to be so all alone.