March 31, 2017

Troy Poetry Mission, March 29

I’d been here at this open mic back in the Fall for the first in the series, but weather & life intervened, until Troy began to thaw out. I got to O’Brien’s on 3rd Street early for a drink & dinner at the bar but that wasn’t necessary because even by 7:30, the reputed start time, the host, R.M. Engelhardt wasn’t even there. Why not make the start time 8:00 (we didn’t actually start until about 10 minutes after 8)?

The reading was in O’Brien’s back room, a large, open space that may have been a ballroom at one time, but no amp, no music stand, not even a chalk mark on the floor, pure Rob. Speaking of whom, he began with a haiku from 1991, “Percy Sledge Was Right.” I was up next with a selection from my new chapbook, Inauguration Raga, then #12 from my continuing series of true stories from the Trump era, “What Makes America Great.”

James Duncan is the editor of Hobo Camp Review, & will be the featured poet next Month; he read a piece about confronting the medical industry, “Is This Really Necessary?” I had seen Poetik read previously at The Low Beat in Albany at the Nitty Gritty Slam, tonight she read 2 pieces, “Relations” about getting to know men & herself, then “Poem to My Password.” Ainsley read 2 untitled poems, both about lovers, the first about the scents & stains a lover leaves behind, then another about picking lovers like math problems.

Tonight’s featured poet was the performer Liv McKee who began with a new piece about the stink of life & how “we are the sweat of the day,” then on to a welcoming poem with a bit of audience participation at the beginning. A poem based on a visit to Israel was full of the contradictions of Jewish heritage with support for the Palestinian people. Other poems included short pieces from her phone, slam-style performances of screed against a rapist, another to a hippie guru bullshit artist, & her last piece titled “Learning to Dance in 2-Part Harmony” performed without her boots, on the exploitation of dancers with the creation of “perfect” bodies. While she performs her longer pieces in the stylized manner of Slam, her poems have real substance, both political & personal which set them above the more common clichéd Slam performances.

Following a short beer break, Rob was back with 3 of his own poems, one invoking the crucifiction of Jesus “I Was Once Dead Too,” then 2 for his wife “Murmur” & “Off a Bottle of Wine.” Thérèse Broderick read “Errand with Strangers” about helping someone with her groceries. Karen Fabiane also read poems she had read Monday night (which is helpful for me to get through the complexities of a poem) “Even Without Grace” & “Peeling” that this time I heard as another of her “conversation” poems. Ainsley was back up with an encore, a poem about drinking with a friend with a drinking problem.

The Troy Poetry Mission is held on the last Wednesday of the month at O’Brien’s Public House, 43 3rd St. in Troy (of course), NY — 7:30PM (but if you believe that, I have an Easter Bunny that will bring you a basket of candy & eggs).

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