February 22, 2018

Third Thursday Poetry Night, February 15

There was a houseful of poets & listeners this night for the open mic & for our featured poet, Bunkong Tuon. The muse we invoked for the reading was the gone Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko as I read his poem “Loss.”

First up to the mic was faithful Bob Sharkey with “Siege” based on a poem he read that had been submitted in the Stephen A. DiBiase contest, on the conflicts in other parts of the world we sometimes don’t hear about here.

Howard Kogan was next & he read a poem, “Dick & Jane,” about going to school learning to read in what seems like another world. “Douglas” was D. Alexander Holiday (also writing as G. Douglas Davis IV) & he read from the new book Kith & Kin, one of 2 poems with that title in the book. W.D. Clarke, who will be the featured poet here next month brought his new book with him, Still More Tales (Infinity Publishing, 2017) & read us a sample, another of his signature rhyming ballads, “A Prospector’s Revenge.” Brianna came back again (I guess we didn’t scare her off) to read a poem about her Mom “Garden.” Mike, who doesn’t need a mic, read “Stueben’s Charge,” about a Revolutionary War hero who was gay & an immigrant, that I’m sure was heard back Utica.

Bunkong Tuon, or B.K. as we know him, read from his new book from NYQ Press And So I Was Blessed, explaining that his book was in 3 parts, about being a tourist in Viet Nam, about discovering his father’s family & about leading students on a study-abroad program & missing his new daughter. He began with “How to Prepare Yourself for a Semester Abroad in Viet Nam,” then the scary experience “On a Motorbike in Saigon.” “To the Blue-Eyed and Blonde-Haired Girl in a Hmong Village in Northern Viet Nam” ended with rich images of Hmong culture, then on to a poem about looking for his father “Lies I Told about Father” that was also about his own development, then one section from “Searching for Father in Kampuchea Krom,” about things his father had to do to so they could survive. He ended with “Song for Stella” for his daughter, about he & his wife singing to Stella even before she was born. & so we are blessed with poetry.

After a break I read this year’s iteration of “Birthday Poem.” A new poet here was Sarah who said she is a fiction writer but every once in a while a poem bubbles up, read “Cassandra .999” a political piece. Joe Krausman was here again with a poem written this morning based on a dream, a fable based on Yiddish saying that “shrouds don’t have pockets.” Alan Catlin read a hand-written poem also written today “Valentines Day 2018” the latest in this year’s string of school shootings. Frank S. Robinson read “Something There Is That Loves a Wall” adding a ladder to lift us up.

Kim Henry was back with an untitled piece, a love poem (& not about her daughter), her heart fluttering. Don Levy read a poem about a murder last month of a gay/Jewish man “Blaze.” Clarese Portofino was also not scared off from last month so returned to read about the complications of a past love met again & the emotions after time.

The Third Thursday Poetry Night is 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 — your generous donation helps to pay the featured poet, & supports poetry & the work of the Social Justice Center. Please join us.

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