August 30, 2017

Caffè Lena Poetry Open Mic, August 2

August in Saratoga Springs can be a problem due to the crowds there for the horses, but I was able to find someplace to park my car, & got to historic Caffè Lena on time.  There was a long list for the open mic, & a good audience for the featured poets Bertha Rogers & Liv McKee, & our host Carol Graser — who got so excited about the featured poets that she forgot to do her customary opening poem, which she did after the first open mic poet; the poem was “I Woke Up,” a political piece by Jameson Fitzpatrick.

So, the first open mic poet was Brian Dorn with 2 rhyming pieces, “Her Attributes,” & a poem about autism “His Humor.” After Carol read, next was Marilyn McCabe with “I Await the Night with Dread…” the opening poem from her collection Glass Factory (The Word Works, 2016).

Debbie Bogosian was the volunteer at the door & she read about a needlepoint project “Sewn Together with Time,” then an emotional piece “The Family Gathers.” Jackie Craven read a poem “In Which I Try to Leave My Husband But Cannot Find the Words” a nonsense piece springing from workshops by famous poets Bernadette Mayer & Marge Piercy. Joe Bruchac (another famous poet) also read a poem from an assignment, one that he gave to students, “Rainy Season in Ghana,” & the “School Assembly 1958” (informing us that the word “nerd” 1st appeared in Dr. Seuss’ 1950 book If I Ran the Zoo). Nicola Mare Allain (one of next month’s featured poets, with Charlie Rossiter) read a couple of narrative memoirs about growing up in Tahiti, one about a fisherman, the other about a sea turtle. Thomas Dimopoulos, who sometimes earns money by writing about rock concerts, read from some emails from readers & a couple of paragraphs from his own reviews. D.Colin read a recent poem “7 Reasons Why I Am a Poet” then sang & read a poem from her book Dreaming in Kreyol (Empress Bohemia Press, 2015).

Liv McKee was the first of the night’s featured poets. Her reading tonight seemed to have no plan, as she vocally wondered what to read next. She began with a piece inspired by Shel Siverstein (that she had done recently during Poets in the Park), & also read from her just published self-produced chapbook honey at the corners of her mouth, “Prodigal,” some haiku, & the slam rant with a long title, a letter to a racist hippieman. “Safety - What a Hopeful Dream” was written after she produced her chapbook. She ended with a couple of slam pieces, “Late Bloom” (from the chapbook), & “Fold.”

Bertha Rogers is a very different kind of poet, more on the page, to Liv’s on-stage performances. Bertha read extensively from her 2010 book published by Salmon Poetry Heart Turned Back, beginning with the opening poem “The First Time.” She went to dreaming of an old love “When You Were Dead,” “The Future,” “Dog Girl Tells the Truth,” to a series of memories of her youth in rural Iowa, “Rhomboid” (a high-school poem), “The Cornfield,” “Turkey Buzzard,” “For the Girl Buried in the Peat Bog,” & “Jay and Father and Winter.” She concluded with a cluster of poems not in the book, with a couple more with dogs, “The Old Dog’s Lament,” & “Furred World,” & ended with “Morning, the October Stone Circle,” & “Wild Again.” It was a wonderful pairing of 2 fine poets of different generations & different styles.

After the break, Carol was back with her own poem, “Women March on Washington All Over the World.” Leslie Sittner was a “virgin” — her first reading -- & read a long piece on ADHD in the voice of her grandson “I Am Owen,” then a more amusing piece on hair “Growth Age.” Suzanne Rancourt had also read in Poets in the Park, read 2 new poems, “Stones as Words,” then one on insomnia “Sleep Will Come Tomorrow.” Todd Fabozzi was back after a long absence & read about songs at baseball games “National Pastime” & “Faith.” Terry Bat-Sonja also made a rare appearance with a couple old poems “Fragments” (of poems) & “Rabbits in September.”

Alyssa Bonaro read a portrait in words of a boy who is her friend. Another “virgin” Bud Mansmith read about the dead of his family, & others, “The Circle Outside of Me.” Kaela Ellis read a skillful piece “The Sky” a science lesson on the water cycle disguised as a poem. W.D. Clarke read a couple of his rhyming ballads, a humorous “The Ballad of Poor Reggie” (who watches his health but is hit by a car), & one from his experience in the Army “That Other Meat.” Karen Fabiane read “God Boy,” & the recent “Karen’s Steaks & Chops.”

The final poet, Gloria Manthos, said she was reading for the first time “in New York” & read “Bourbon,” then a piece about being a veteran in a family of veterans “Cycles.”

This poetry open mic is held each 1st Wednesday at the recently renovated Caffè Lena in Saratoga Springs, with a featured reader (or 2), at 7:30PM.

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