This was the first night of a 2-night/2-city poetry extravaganza involving visiting poets associated with Trailer Park Review & Hobo Camp Review, organized by the Hudson Valley Writers Guild. The first event was held at Elixer 16, 45 2nd Street, Troy, & was hosted by James Duncan, editor of Hobo Camp Review.
Local poetry impresario R.M. Engelhardt had a short-lived series here at back in the pre-pandemic days. It’s a long climb from the beer bar to the “performance space” on the 3rd floor, but high enough to get breezes through the big windows on a hot night in July.
First up was Cord Moreski, "a poet from the Jersey shore," who delivered working class narratives, with pop references (e.g., a bar poem with Big Bird) in loud, pressured speech, mostly short stuff.
J. Lester Allen said he had read in Troy in years past, currently lives in the Finger Lakes Region. He also had some narrative pieces, never sure without seeing the line breaks if it’s “poetry” or “prose,” but then does it matter? One poem about Socrates & Paul Newman meeting in a bar at a horse race sounded like a poem by a local poet who often writes about God hanging out at a bar.
Editor & host James Duncan read a more upbeat poem than what we’ve heard so far, & read for a poet (whose name I missed) who could not be here.
The lone female poet on the night’s bill was Paula Bomer, with a splash of color, & without the "uniform" who interestingly enough, read mostly from male poets, including the gay narratives of Dennis Cooper, from John Berryman, & then some of the re-writes of the sonnets of Ted Berrigan by Andrea Kneeland The Translations (Sentenia Books, 2015). Paula is the publisher of Sententia Books.
I had seen Dan Provost read some years ago at the Connecticut Poetry Festival where he was part of an informal group that dubbed itself “Da Beards!” awash in testosterone. He included in his reading tonight pieces from Foundations of Cheap Penance released in November 2021 by the local Dead Man’s Press, which mostly publishes the work of the afore mentioned R.M. Engelhardt.
Jason Baldinger, from Pittsburgh, was another unrelenting loud declaimer, which seemed to be common trait among the readers, his poems while declarative & assertively profound, were a bit more descriptive than what we’d heard up to this point.
Victor Clevenger, read pretty much the same, short, angry-man poems, some he called “Haiku” but sounded just like incomplete notebook jottings, also beard, ink, hat uniform.
John Dorsey, co-editor of River Dog Press with Victor Clevenger, former ring-leader of “Da Beards!” at the Connecticut Poetry Festival still has the beard, was still yet tonight another shouter, every piece read in the same style, a loud voice falling in poetry style at the end of the line, short poems more like notes, emotions towards a poem not quite finished.
It was a tedious night with little variety, as can be expected I suppose with folks published by 2 presses that generally take similar material. I have been published by both presses myself, & of course had sent them poems that were on similar themes & styles like those I had read on their Blogs. But to have all of these guys — only 1 woman poet in the locker room room tonight — with their beards, their caps, their ink, & their shouts — all together for 2 hours was a bit overwhelming, & culturally anachronistic. Indeed it seemed that Da Beards! had risen from the swamp tonight, now also Da Hats!, Da Ink! & invaded Troy (if you don’t have the uniform you don’t read).
There was a similar event, including many of the same readers, at The Linda in Albany on the following night, which I missed. This time the single female reader was Albany poet & former Vice-President of Mary Panza. I’m sure she did just fine, for, as some poet once wrote about a different venue down the blocks from The Linda, “When Mary Panza’s curses made cocks fall like dried leaves all along Central Ave…”