Always a good turnout of local poets for the open mic here, as well it should be — it’s the longest lasting poetry open mic in Saratoga County, perhaps in the entire North Country, &, correct me if I’m wrong, the only one. & our host Carol Graser always books stellar featured poets, from the local poets or poets in the Region. Tonight she started us off with a poem, “The Workshop,” by the gone poet Donald Lev (1936 - 2018), whom I first encountered in the mid-1970s in NYC in the East Village.
The pattern now at Caffè Lena is to have the featured poet perform at 7:00PM & live-stream it, then go on to the open mic. Tonight’s feature poet was James Henry Knippen who read 10 poems from his collection of poems Would We Still Be (Western Michigan University, 2021). I caught James read in the open mic here back in November 2021, & enjoyed his relaxed, nicely stacked reading tonight. You too can enjoy his entire reading here on the Caffè Lena YouTube channel.
On to the open mic, with a local poet, a regular here, Rachel Baum the 1st up, to read “Absolute” that played on the meanings of the word, then one titled “The Gift.” Michael Carroll at some point in the night slipped me a copy of his self-published book of poems Scotch Sympathy, of which I recognized one that he read “Masquerade Mandate,” the other poem didn’t seem to be in the book & my notes say “An Advertisement for Elvis,” & on further research I realized I’d hear him read in the open mic here back in January.
Terri Lynn said it was her first time reading here, she read her own poem “Love Compost“ then a poem by her husband (don’t know if he was in the audience). Todd Fabozzi has been out of the picture for a while, said he has just produced Volume 4 of his series Poems & Anti-Poems (with a nod to Chilean poet Nicanor Parra) & read a piece from it “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Elaine Kenyon was a returning open mic reader with a poem about her wishes & regrets “A Wonder How.”
Elizabeth Threadgill was another returning reader & read a piece about “generational violence,” then one with the provocative title “The Air Between Us.” I missed the April reading here so brought a couple of Earth Day poems, the recent “2 Dreams” & the old “chestnut” from 3 Guys from Albany performances “Message from Space.” Victoria Twomey, an painter as well as a poet, & now a regular here, remembered a friend with “Flutter & Glow,” & a poet about seeing a dead animal on the side of the road “Glimpse.”
Effie Redman has been a welcome sight here for years, tonight did a piece meditating on leaves, gravity, & pain with the messaged to not look back. Nora read a short piece about Spring (finally here). Elissa read poems for the Ukraine women in the style of contemporary Afghanistan woman, a 2-line form called a “landay” (cf. I Am the Beggar of the World, (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014)). The final poet, Carlo read a piece titled “The Bird & the Stone.”
[Once again, I apologize to those who read if I have incorrectly reported your name; I tried to get a look at the sign-up sheet at the end of the reading to verify names but it was spirited away into the Caffe Lena backrooms; any errors about the titles/subject of the poems that were read are purely my own. You are free to send me corrections to either, which I will then edit this report, at firstname.lastname@example.org.]
This long-going/ongoing poetry open mic at Caffè Lena, 47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs, NY takes place on the 1st Wednesday of the month, 7:00PM, sign-up at 6:30PM, $5.00, featured poet & a community open mic.