March 15, 2018
I decided to make the trip down to Kingston to this reading at the Unitarian Universalist Society of the Catskills to hear a couple of my favorite poets, Bertha Rogers & Richard Levine, both of whom I’d featured at readings in Albany. The evening was hosted by Annie LaBarge who organizes the series. There was also an open mic around the featured readers.
Fred began the first open mic cluster with a lyrical piece to his family nose “The Nose Knows.” Matt Spireng read a take-off on the often heard phrase “Your Call Is Very Important to Us.” I followed with my take on last year’s eclipse “Spathe is the Plathe.”
After a short break — cookies, coffee, & browsing the book table — we returned to the open mic. Judith Kerman read poems from a new collection she is working on titled Gymp: “After a Failed Surgery,” “Chair,” & an acrostic “Trying to Sleep.” Betty McDowell read about koi dead in her pond & eaten by crows, then another about helping a friend at the ER, & one titled “Thanksgiving Misgivings.”
The night ended with 2 more open mic poets. Bobbi Katz read the humorous “Old Woman Thinking About Robert Frost” from a series of “old women poems.” Our host Annie LaBarge read a childhood memoir about her brother & playing the piano “Heart & Soul.”
This series titled “Spoken Word” takes place monthly on Saturday evenings at the Unitarian Universalist Society of the Catskills, 320 Sawkill Rd., Kingston, NY, 7:00 PM, $5.00.
March 12, 2018
|Joachim Frank at an anti-war reading, March, 2003|
During the afternoon, there was a “conversation about a life in the arts and sciences” held in the D’Ambra Auditorium in the Life Sciences Research Building on the UAlbany campus. Most of the questions centered around the perceived, or real, conflict between Joachim’s creative writing & his scientific research, & around the different ways of writing in each field. He was a bit flustered at one questioner's use of the acronym “STEM,” a term prevalent at least in this area including on one area TV station. I thought, perhaps we should have less S.T.E.M. (i.e., Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) & more C.R.A.P. (Creativity, Reading, Arts, Performance).
At Paul’s request Joachim began with a readings of his poem “Central Ave.,” a poetic walk up that iconic Albany street, written in 1978, 3 years after he arrived here. Then on to a short story inspired by the Exxon-Valdez oil spill, “Metamorphosis of an Executive,” in which the chairman of Exxon Corporation is tossed into the oil spill then rescued & cleaned up like one of the fish. The short story “Myopia, or the Chest of Drawers” was a Beckett-like conversation about a manuscript between 2 friends in a cafe. Joachim said he has written 3 unpublished novels & read an excerpt from one titled “Observatory” about an astro-physicist, his family & others being soaked in radioactive rain from Chernobyl.
|Joachim Frank with Paul Grondahl|
If you are not aware of the ongoing, mostly free, events of the NYS Writers Institute, you can visit their website to see their schedule & can sign up for their email newsletter.
March 9, 2018
The co-hosts were community writers Alifair Skebe & JP Garcia. While we were waiting to start Alifair introduced JP for a “pre-reading” & he read from his new chapbook So This is Story, a section titled “Zero” a fragmentary piece like notes to a story.
The St. Rocco Poetry Series appears to happen irregularly so it seems the best way to find out about it is from their FaceBook page where you can also sign up for their mailing list & show your interest in reading in the series (or not).
March 8, 2018
Back in Troy (last month’s event had been cancelled), with R.M. Engelhardt the host, & co-host James Duncan joining us in progress. It was a long night of poetry, with 2 featured poets filling up an hour & 13 signed up for the open mic. Rob began the night with one of his characteristic pieces “I Am the Darkness.”
After the break, J.J. Johnson read a merciless anti-Trump rant “Heartless Beat,” (making one member of the audience clearly uncomfortable).
Jeremy Olson began with a poem about the gym being like a church, then on to a 2-part piece, “Strange Sex” working in Hokusai’s Wave painting & tentacles. Julie Lomoe read a descriptive prose piece “Terminal Beige” about being in a doctor’s office, then an old favorite “Bi-Polar Gaia.” Christian Ortega brought the night to a close with “Postscript” the final poem in his book Red Poems (Hispanic Paradox Press, 2014) which in the printed text is in all caps making one want to SHOUT while reading it.
The Troy Poetry Mission is held on the last Wednesday of the month (except when it’s not) at O’Brien’s Public House on 3rd St. in Troy (between Broadway & State St.), with a featured poet (perhaps) & an open mic, 7:30PM (but usually after 8).
March 4, 2018
Always a feisty event, tonight no exception, with our host Mary Panza. Tonight’s featured poet was Stella Padnos-Shea, but first, some of the open mic.
Sylvia Barnard likes to be first so she can relax after & listen to the other poets, tonight she began with a work-in-progress an urban tale about walking thru the snow & and an encounter with a cabbie, then a poem about thinking of her daughter & son-in-law & Thanksgiving “Family.” I read my new “Birthday Poem” for this year & a slightly older piece “The Poet’s Coat.”
Back to the open mic, Brooke Kolcow took us to the ocean in her poem “Maine Things” then read a list of the small wonders in “Poem for Smalbany.”
Always a fun night on the last Monday of the month for Poets Speak Loud! at McGeary’s on Sheridan Square in Albany, NY, 7:30PM — a featured poet & an open mic.
March 2, 2018
|Gerrit Lansing, October, 2010|
A memorial service was held on Saturday, February 24 at Hammond Castle, a great crowd filling the huge, medieval-style room. Gerrit’s grand-nephews spoke, each remarking on the “Gerrit-shared community.” Then a string of local friends, young & old, made brief comments or read one of Gerrit’s poems; one woman read one of Diane DiPrima’s “Revolutionary Letters.” The M/C of the event was Amanda Cook who got the gathered to sing “Shenandoah.” There was mention of magic, the occult & the natural world. Someone said that Gerrit’s last recited poem was from Mother Goose, “Higgledy-Piddledy My Black Hen.” I wrote in my notes, perhaps a quote from someone, “the magic is in the poems.”
Afterwards, there was an equally grand gathering down the road at the Magnolia Library Center for a community pot-luck & a chance to hang out & talk with old friends, Peter Anastas, Don & Marge Byrd, Pierre Joris & Nicole Peyrafitte, & to meet new friends.
|Nicole Peyrafitte, Pierre Joris, Don Byrd, Michael Bisio|
The best tribute a writer can have is for people to read their work. Similar to Whitman’s many editions of Leaves of Grass, Gerrit Lansing’s life work Heavenly Tree can be found in a variety of editions, many out of print, but the most recent & most complete edition is the 2009 North Atlantic Books edition Heavenly Tree, Northern Earth — order it from your local independent bookseller.
March 1, 2018
|Carol Graser reading at the QE2, July 29, 1996|
To another question she she explained that she also works well with poetry groups, where the members read & discuss a particular poem. She talked about her early years in the open mic scene, including reading at the old QE2 open mic in Albany run by Tom Nattell. She also talked about starting her own open mic at Caffè Lena back in 2003, worrying that no one would show up — it is still going strong on the 1st Wednesday of each month & gets a good crowd of local poets for the open mic & for the featured poet.
Albany Poets Presents takes place about every-other month at the Navona Restaurant on New Scotland Ave. in Albany, NY; come early & have dinner. Check the AlbanyPoets website for details & for the date of the next one & who the guest poet will be.