January 27, 2020
Nick Bisanz was the host tonight at The Low Beat, with his guitar, so he started us off with a couple of songs, “En Avant” & “The Fox Holes of Hollywood,” to set the mood, so to speak.
I led off the open mic sign-up with a recently re-discovered piece “Big Tent Haibun,” then one of my modernized imitations of Han Shan “Open Mic,” & a poem imitating Lyn Lifshin’s poetry “Vegetarian Sex.”
Amanda Pelletier was back again with a couple of long pieces, like put-down letters, the first referencing the TV show Family Guy, the second titled “How Are the Giants Doing?” addressed to someone who is a Giants fan.
The poet who goes by the handle Slay The Dragon also read a piece in the form of a long letter, “It Came Back,” about his own darkness, what he described as a “mental health awareness poem,” then another piece addressed to a woman with blue eyes “Killer Frost.”
Then Nick ended the night with more songs, including channeling Buddy Holly with “Heartbeat.” Brass Tacks is an open mic for poets that takes place on the 1st & 3rd Tuesday of each month at The Low Beat, 335 Central Ave., Albany, NY, 7:30PM.
January 20, 2020
First third Thursday of 2020 & we start off the New Year at the Social Justice Center. The featured poet was Susan E. Oringel, & I had invited folks attending to pay tribute to the recently-gone poet & Literary Legend Lyn Lifshin by reading one of her poems, in addition to their own. I started it with invoking Lyn as the night’s Muse. I read her poem “Going Back to Where” from a mimeographed locally produced zine in which I also had poems, The Old Woman (no date, but probably the late 1960s, edited by Sue Shafarzek).
AlbanyPoets.com, Naeema, who read a “justice poem” for the elephants. D. Alexander Holiday again read from the anthology Poems from Black Africa, edited by Langston Hughes, 2 poems. Mark W. O’Brien once again signed up in green ink, read a true story about mixing up “Nielson” with “Sullivan.” Alan Casline talked about being a small press publisher in the 1970s, publishing Lyn Lifshin, even dating her for a while, then read a poem he wrote about her.
After a break I returned to read a poem I wrote in the style of one of Lyn Lifshin’s older poems “Vegetarian Sex.” Jessica Rae joined us on her break from school, read the Lyn Lifshin poem “Lust Blowing Under the Door” then her own “coffee poem” (still without a title, still in progress). Karen Fabiane read Lyn’s “My Mother, the Demerol Wearing Off” then from her 1st book, Dancing Bears (Bright Hill Press, 2011) “Slay Me.”
Just like in the past, we will continue to meet on the third Thursday of the month at 7:30PM here at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany — a featured poet & an open mic for community poets.
January 17, 2020
Trying something new this monthly open mic started last month with a tribute to Emily Dickinson & based on that success this night the tribute was to Mary Oliver. Apparently it worked as a few folks showed up for that reason & not to read in the open mic. The host is Charlie Rossiter who also hosts the poetry podcast Poetry Spoken Here. He began with one of Mary Oliver’s poems “When Death Comes.”
I had driven over for the event & read a couple of new poems “The Phrasing Must Change” inspired by a Rumi poem with the same title, then “Red Boots,” & “Reading Mary Oliver While Masturbating” which samples lines from many of her poems.
Bridgit Elder read from a series of little poems written on 3x5 cards about being out in the Winter woods. Our host Charlie Rossiter read “Don’t Make that Resolution” which had appeared recently in the Bennington Banner, then another titled “Concerning the Muse,” then Mary Oliver’s “The Poet with His Face in His Hands.”
Charlie offered us a 2nd go-around, so I read my poem “for Peter” to the late Gloucester writer, Peter Anastas. Laura read about painting, knitting, doodling, “The Beauty of Mindlessness.” Kenn read about an encounter with himself one night, then sang his song “Getting Too Old to be Young.” Charlie read “Sometimes There is a Glimpse” originally written for Mark O’Brien’s Haibun project.
But not quite yet, at the very last minute Walt Klinger showed up & read a divorce poem, “So Glad (that you’re not my Valentine).” & that was it.
This open mic — for anything, not just poetry, but all acoustic, no amplification — takes place at the Tap House, 309 County Rd., Bennington, VT, on the 2nd Tuesday of each month, 7:15PM.
January 13, 2020
It was a nice mix of the regulars, the occasional & the brand-new among the 15 signed up on the list as we had our 1st gathering in the new year at the Arts Center of the Capital Region. The hosts are Nancy Klepsch & yours-truly, Me. Inna Erlikh, who did not read today but has in the past translated some of us local poets for publication in Russian journals, provided luscious holiday cookies.
Don Levy read a poem by one of his favorite poets, Frank O’Hara, “Why I Am Not a Painter” which is one of my favorite poems. The first of the new voices here today was Megeen Mulholland with 2 poems based on family photographs, “Hey Dad,” & “Top This” in which her father meets Albert Einstein. Kate Gillespie read a found/appropriated poem using the last line from poems from The Snail’s Pace Review, a biannual little magazine of contemporary poetry edited by Ken Denberg & Darby Penney from the 1990s, then another of the same ilk using the next-to-last lines titled “The Beads Are Hot My Daughter Says.”
Dan Curley, who was referenced in Bob Sharkey’s poem, read “New Year’s Resolutions” about things he won’t do, then the humorous & loving “My Wife Wearing New Glasses.” Another new voice was Kris Cottom & she read a piece of short fiction “Lost & Found” a portrait of a young girl, a foster child & her doll. My co-host Nancy Klepsch has been writing a series of poems based on impossible requests to Siri (or Alexis) & read us 2 examples “Send Me Sand” & “Send Me Magic.” Jessica Rae was back in town visiting on a semester break & read us a piece of short fiction about a young girl in a bar who is being hit on by an older guy, “Come Listen to My Records” (a brief excerpt can be found in her self-published zine Some Shit I Wrote).
Still another new voice was Tara Kistler who read us a sestina titled “Endurance” with images of sand dunes & colorful skies. Mary Anne Murray said she has been getting back into writing performance poetry & read us the eco-poem “Plastic.” Karen Fabiane graced us with 2 new poems, “More Today” a portrait of an urban gleaner, a woman going through Troy’s trash, & a dialogue about “Her Shoelaces.” The afternoon ended with still another new voice Maggie Brieden who read an excerpt from a longer mystery/thriller story of business intrigue.
2nd Sunday @ 2: Poetry + Prose takes place at the Arts Center in Troy on River St. each month. In the past we had been in the 1st floor black box theater, but of late we have met in one of the studios on the 2nd floor which has the advantage of outside light & a view of the River, which we are growing to like. Ask a the desk & they’ll tell you where to go.
January 12, 2020
The first of what can only be many poetry events in 2020 was this casual & fun open mic at The Low Beat up Central Ave. The host was el presidente of AlbanyPoets Thom Francis. There was an impressive sign-up sheet of “old” & “new” poets, & the usual cast of characters.
Ian Macks was back with a couple pieces, both “new shit,” both personal reactions filled with intense energy, the 2nd & longer the auto-biographical “Weighted Blanket.” I followed with a transcription of the over-heard mutterings “The Window Cleaner Rides the Bus,” then the tale of “Red Boots.”
(Getting down to) Brass Tacks is an open mic on the 1st & 3rd Tuesday of the month at The Low Beat, 335 Central Ave., Albany, NY, 7:30PM, check out the calendar at AlbanyPoets.com for details.
January 10, 2020
|Ollie Atkins / Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum|
In honor of the birthday of The King, I thought I would post this poem, much performed with The 3 Guys from Albany.
I THOUGHT I SAW ELVIS...
I thought I saw Elvis the other night
at the supermarket comparing the price of steaks
but it was only an old woman with plastic bags for shoes stealing cans of dog food
I thought I saw Elvis on the street corner
with his 6 foot long white silk scarf
but it was only an old black man cleaning windshields with his shirt
I thought I saw Elvis on TV last night
shaking hands and smiling to the audience
but it was only a celebration for Christopher Columbus grabbing land and slaves for Spain
I thought I saw Elvis yesterday in the bank
standing in line to make a deposit
but it was only Corporate America gathering money with rakes
I thought I saw Elvis
I thought I saw Elvis
amphetamines like Christmas candies spilled on the floor
dead on his toilet
with a Bible in his hand
I thought I saw Elvis
but it was only
it was only
December 26, 2019
The end of another decade & the night of the annual holiday visit from Sanity Clause to the Social Justice Center. Tonight’s featured poet was Rebecca Schumejda, but before the start of the open mic Sanity invoked the night’s muse, the gone poet Enid Dame, with the annual reading of her “Holiday Poem.” Throughout the reading Sanity Clause had a gift of poetry for each of tonight’s readers.
The first open mic reader was Alan Catlin who struggled with deciding which poem to read, between noir & silly, so went with silly an ekphrastic poem about Super Awesome Things cards, “Smoking Monkies” bringing to mind Ronald Reagan.
|Photo by BK|
|Photo by Hasan Atalay|
|Photo by BK|
After a short break for Sanity Clause to get donations & Rebecca to sell her books, we finished off the open mic. I read my annual Xmas poem “Christmas Eve 1945,” published on Spillwords Press website on Christmas Eve. Joe Krausman read a poem about the variety of Season’s Greetings & sending out cards to remind others that you are still alive.
|Photo by D. Alexander Holiday|
Each poet who read walked away from Sanity Clause’s lap with a poetry book or zine, & even Sanity Clause actually came away with poetry books in return, including a copy of the New Directions anthology Black Mountain Poems from Alan Catlin, BK’s The Doctor Will Fix It, & Lance Le Grys a copy of his book Views from an Outbuilding. 'Tis the season to exchange poetry.
A note on tonight’s photos which were provided by poets in the audience, BK, D. Alexander Holiday, & Sally Rhoades (or Hasan Atalay).
Please join us in 2020, "the Year of Seeing Clearly," on the third Thursday of each month at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY 7:30PM for a reading by a local, regional or national poet & an open mic for the rest of us. Your donation helps pay the featured poet, supports other poetry events in the area, & supports the work of the Social Justice Center.