March 13, 2017

WOMPS, March 9

The Word of Mouth Poetry Series is a monthly event at The Art Bar Gallery in Kingston, & is run by Teresa Costa. I’d been wanting to get there for some time for a reading & finally made it for Roberta Gould, whose poetry I like a lot, & for someone I hadn’t heard previously, Karen Corinne Herceg. I had been to the Gallery before for art openings, & there is a bar serving wine & beer, small plates & cheese, as well as always captivating art on the walls.

The features went first, after Teresa read from the Wiccan Book of Days.

Karen Corinne Herceg read first, a long selection from her new book Out from Calaboose (Nirala Publications, 2016). She read a long set of 3 or 4 poems from each of the books’s 5 parts. The poems, as her website says, “explore personal healing as well as broader considerations of political, social & ecological awareness” which I guess covers it all. From what she read tonight her poems were about former lovers (“Too Long 1971”) & the dissolution of relationships (“In My Travels”), even a beheading. There was a poem that honored folk singer Pete Seeger (“Hudson History”), & poems about her mother (“2 Olives Please,” “Loving Hands”). The title poem concerned our own personal imprisonments. Her poems, often narrative, were discursive descriptions, usually with a dramatic conclusion in the last line.

Roberta Gould, on the other hand, was less tidy, more quirky, impressionistic, less narrative. She read poems written since last Fall, starting with one written today, “Substitute.” Her personal ruminations were quirky commentaries, such as “Prepared” (with a kerchief on her head), or “On Receiving a Personal Promotion in the Mail.” She has a definite, appealing surreal side, not just in her dream poems, such as “Piano Tuner” or “Which Way.” & often a bit of humor as in “Choices” & “Manchester Dog Show Valentines Day.” “The Rosendale Overpass” was an elegaic pantoum. Of course, the political was an ever-present table spice, as in “Roman General” & “Demagogue.”

Following all this we needed a “short” break. Then on to the open mic portion with a generous selection of some of the best open mic-ers in the mid-Hudson region.

Alison Koffler is one of my favorites & she read from a new series of poems about imaginary beasts, one set in South Carolina “Beast of the Low Country,” another set in the Catskills “The Beast of the Turning.” Another favorite, whose poetry collection Moses Parts the Tulips (A.P.D., 2013) is still available, Cheryl A. Rice read about her “Forsythias.” Speaking of A.P.D. (another poet Dan) I was next & read selections from my new chapbook Inauguration Raga  in the hopes of promoting & selling copies (sold 1 copy).

Donald Lev, the grand-ole-man of the mid-Hudson poets, read a whole cluster of poems, but he never seems to go too long because his poems are so short; he ranged from jottings on New Years Eve, to checking his booze, to Bob Dylan, refugees, Donald Trump (of course), & a poem for George Wallace, the poet, on Van Gogh — Go Donald!

Another mid-Hudson grand-ole-man, Fred Poole, was able to get here & read a poem of memories of NYC & fear “Alexandria & the El.” There were a few open mic poets I hadn’t seen before, the first of whom was Davida who read a couple of dream poems of imagined, ancient days when there was “no word for Time.” Ron Whiteurs was less etherial with a musical poem titled “Juiced” about a Woodstock jazz musician (whom he refused to name).

Leslie Gerber read poems on dead ones, including 2 on animals, praying to the spirit of his dead dogs (“Foam on Running Water”), & “Soil”on the 104th anniversary of his father’s death. Another reader new to me was Suze Bottigliere with an excerpt (that included lyrics from Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne”) from a longer prose piece “3 Days with Jean-Paul Sartre.” The night was capped by another new voice, Barbara Johnson, who didn’t bring her own work, but read a poem by Myrna Stone.

The Art Bar Gallery at 674 Broadway, Kingston, NY is the site for WOMPS on the 2nd Thursday of the month, with featured poets, an open mic for poets, a bar with snacks & bottle beer & wine. Yum.

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