March 3, 2017

Poets Speak Loud!, February 27

Ah, McGeary’s, for drink, for food, service & Poetry (!). It became a full house, lorded (ladyied?) over by host Mary Panza. Having gotten to there early for dinner with Don Levy I ended up once again as 1st on the list, & read selections from Inauguration Raga my chapbook from A.P.D. (a presidential disaster), then, in honor of the night’s featured poet, Alifair Skebe, a “mirror poem” “Balthus.”

Mark O’Brien made a rare visit off the hill to read a poem with the long title “It is in the Shelter of Each Other that People Live” set in a doctor’s waiting room. Alan Casline also made a rare appearance downtown, read what he called an “old-timey contemporary poem for Albany” titled “A Pretty Package.” Dawn Marar’s 2 poems were ones she selected from her oeuvre after reading Alifair’s book, both about visits to what we call the “Middle East,” one about the fear of traveling “On the Road to Damascus,” & the other about a market “Sea Creature.” Mary Panza introduced our beloved Don Levy as “everyone’s gay husband” & he read a poem about not mellowing with age “Unmellow Yellow,” & another titled “I Am a Snowflake Hear Me Roar.” Carol Jewell read 2 wonderfully tender poems I’ve heard her read previously “Flashing” (an AM menopausal romp thru a neighbor’s sprinklers) & “The Boxes of Your Stuff.”

I’ve been reading Alifair Skebe’s book of poetry, Thin Matter (Foothills Publishing, 2017) since it was published, & heard her read from it at the book launch at The Cheese Traveler in December, 2016.  They are the kind of poems I return to, to seek out their meaning, to study what she is doing with the structure, the lines, the sounds. She does not play just to play but to mean & do. Her reading tonight was from the book & from a series of new poems. The poems read from Thin Matter were ones she had read outdoors during her recent trip to Ireland, memorialized by the text in her copy run from the insistent Irish rain. She started with the paired “The Seed” & “The Seed’s Intention,” then to “The One, the Infinite,” “A thin piece is fine,” “The Mirror Riddles” (which makes sense read forward or backward), “By the Riverbank,” “Poem for June,” “The Stale Air Conceit’s Sun,” & appropriately enough “Clouds.” The new poems are actually an old manuscript Alifair worked on at a recent writing retreat, the poems based on the myth of Eros & Psyche, except that in her version the role of Eros is replaced by Thanatos (Death). She described it as “a novel in verse.” The poems had titles such as “Psyche’s First Fortune Teller,” “Psyche Meets Thanatos at a Friend’s Party,” & “Psyche’s Year in Review.”

Back to the open mic, Joe Krausman’s 2 poems were on the theme of truth & trust, the first a bedside monologue titled “All Trumped Up,” the other titled “Trust or Trust No One.” Tom Riley read a couple of untitled pieces & said he was open to suggestions for titles; the first on Winter, the second about his uncle & his stuff. Nancy Dunlop began with a tribute to Maggie Roche, of the folk-rock group “The Roches,” who died in January, then read “Some Poems” an anaphoric list of what poems are, what they mean, what they can be.

Adam Tedesco, who will be back here next month with the crew of Reality Beach to be the feature, read a couple poems from a project to write poems inspired by the Chinese Misty poets, particularly Bai Dao. Carrie Czwahiel’s first poem “Infusion Life Line” was about her regular treatment for MS, then “Zachary’s Champion” used images from Greek myths. Julie Lomoe wrapped up the night with an old poem, “A Meditation on Meditation.”

I regret that I cannot include the flavor of some of the banter & Mary Panza’s remarks between poets, or some of the things she said about each of us — maybe next time. To hear it yourself, come to Poets Speak Loud! on the last Monday of the month at McGeary’s Irish Pub on Sheridan Square in Albany, NY, 7:30PM, a project of

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

From Therese L. Broderick -- sounds like it was a FANTASTIC night of poetry. Sorry I missed it. I was supposed to drive Sylvia B. to the event, but I completely forgot about it.