April 18, 2019
Back for another day of readings at this “Listening Festival,” as Sally Rhoades has christened it, in the Estep Auditorium.
For the 2nd half of the morning I went to North Lounge. Don Stinson read some poems from his book Flatline Horizon (Mongrel Empire Press, 2018), including one about hearing of a truck bombing in Berlin around the same time as the shooting in San Bernardino, then a couple poems from Paris, including one dedicated to Jim Morrison of the Doors “Lizard King.” He also read from a new manuscript tentatively titled “Black Dog” which is a metaphor for depression; also, poems of spiritual exploration “Trinity” & “Download” (in which the Holy Spirit is a megabyte).
Like I’ve said a couple times, at Scissortail there are always poets I miss because I’m listening to poets someplace else. But fortunately there are events, like lunch, where I did get a chance to talk to some of the poets whose readings I missed. & there was more to come in the afternoon & evening.
April 16, 2019
The evening reading was held in the Ataloa Theatre in the Hallie Brown Ford Arts Center on the East Central University campus & was by the United States Poet Laureate for 2017 - 2019 Tracy K. Smith.
Steve Benton, Director of the University Honors Program, gave the introduction to Laureate Smith’s reading, an introduction that was based on a close, sensitive reading of her books, not just the glowing, admiring generalizations that often infect such introductions.
As the best readings do, this evening opened my eyes to new work I hadn’t been familiar with, as well as a poet, Yi Lei, that I’m looking forward to reading.
April 14, 2019
The afternoon sessions were an exercise in making a choice — 2 time slots, each with 2 sessions each, one in North Lounge, the other in Estep. For example, I read at 2:00PM in North Lounge, while my traveling companion Sally Rhoades read at the same time in Estep Auditorium. So you were always going to miss someone.
I was the first reader at 2:00 in North Lounge & read my series of 5 baseball poems, for which A.P.D. (Albany’s Poetic Disorder) published a brief chapbook, Baseball Poems, which you can still get when you see me at readings, or by mail (email me for information).
Back across the way to Estep Auditorium for the final afternoon session of the day for 4 more writers.
I love how the folks creating this festival pair up us writers, our themes, images, styles bumping up against each other, as on a crowded dance floor, different styles, over-lapping themes, but always about the human character, our own or that of others.
We broke for dinner, with the reading by US Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith set for the evening.
April 10, 2019
Back in Ada, Oklahoma at East Central University for the annual Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, to which I manage to get to every-other-year. I flew down from Albany with poet Sally Rhoades to the Will Rogers Airport in Oklahoma City & drove the 90 miles or so to Ada on Wednesday. We joined about 20 or so other writers at Polo’s Mexican Restaurant to greet old friends, make new ones, eat, drink, & talk, talk, talk.
The next morning at ECU there were more old friends gathered around as the book sale table(s) were set up. It’s been 2 years since I was last here so it felt like a family reunion rather than a literary conference. The morning readings were held in the Estep Auditorium, while in the afternoon there were split, competing sessions in Estep & across the way in the North Lounge.
At this point, when we broke for lunch, I was already feeling like the long trip here was well worth it. My reading was yet to come in the afternoon.
More information about the festival can be found here: http://ecuscissortail.blogspot.com/
April 2, 2019
The Winter has been tough on this monthly series with storms tending toward mid-week, but with astrological Spring here I was bold enough to venture out to Troy, to Elixir16Troy for what was billed as “2 Poets 1 Night” hosted by R.M. Engelhardt & James H. Duncan. But then it turned out to be 1 poet & 1 host & a bare handful of open mic poets, even without a snowstorm.
R.M. Engelhardt started us off with an invocation, a poem in Robert Service rhyme & meter “Don Quixote.” I followed with 2 short poems reacting to reading the poetry of Paul Pines then “Reading Mary Oliver while Masturbating” appropriating lines from her poems. Gloria Manthos, whom I usually see at Caffè Lena, began with a poem reminiscent of one by Lawrence Ferlinghetti “The Anxiety of Waiting” with its recurring line “I am waiting for…” then a poem about her ancestry, her family, what she termed “a border poem,” “Bloodlines.”
Carol Durant read new stuff, a poem with a bit of neighborhood humor “Tick Tock,” then one titled “Revealed.” Rob was back to read John Milton’s “Sonnet 19,” then a piece on the ones we have lost “A Conversation: Friends & Angels.”
The Troy Poetry Mission happens on the last Wednesday of the month at Elixir16Troy, 45 2nd Street, Troy, NY, listed as 7:30PM in the publicity but doesn’t get going until about 8:00PM, adult beverages are available, but no elevator for those of you who are challenged by stairs.
April 1, 2019
I’d missed this event last month so had to be back tonight for beer, burgers & poetry. Mary Panza, as usual, was the host & keeper of the sign-up sheet.
First up on the first half of the open mic was D. Alexander Holiday, who stated that the themes of what he was about to read were “women & guns;” first from Poems from the Women’s Movement Susan Griffin’s “I Like to Think of Harriet Tubman” (who was known to carry a gun), then from Sapphire “Strange Fruit” in the persona a young woman killed by a shop keeper. Sylvia Barnard’s poems looked back to where she grew up in Western Massachusetts, “Rachel” (the name of her grandmother’s horse), then one about the foundations of former homes “House Spots.” Joe Krausman began with Derek Walcott’s “Love After Love,” then read his own poem “Ode to My Arthritis.”
Back to the open mic I followed that with a tame old poem of longing “Blue,” then my new piece “Reading Mary Oliver while Masturbating.” Julie Lomoe talked about her work-in-progress “Subdural,” then read a couple poems about her mother & her mother’s stroke & death, “My Mother & Senator Joe,” & “My Mother’s Head.” Don Levy has taken to reading his poems from his phone, tonight read one about missing recent open mics due to his arthritis & the weather “Remember Me?” Christa DeMarco read a couple of untitled short poems, one about seeing ants in the shower that made her ponder whether life matters, another on depression.
Poets Speak Loud! is at McGeary’s on Sheridan Square in Albany, NY each last Monday of most months, starts no sooner than 7:30PM, usually around 8:00PM, with a feature (usually) & an open mic. Join us.
Finishing Line Press. On this pleasant Sunday afternoon in Glens Falls she gave an informal reading among friends from the book at the First Baptist Church. Finishing Line Press likes for its authors to drum up pre-orders, upon which they base their eventual print runs, so Kathy used this event to drum up orders & to hold a raffle for a free copy; I had already submitted my pre-order after I got the email about the event.
Kathy explained that the poems in this collection began with poems she was writing for the church for holidays such as Christmas & Lent, then put out tiny bells on the tables we were siting around because, she said, “Bells keep coming back” in her poems. Consequently, at random moments during the afternoon there was the tinkling of bells accenting the conversations as well as the poems.
The poems she read were on verses from the New Testament but went beyond the religious setting to a larger spiritual message. The first she described as “a Lent poem” was in the persona of Nicodemus, a Pharisee who went to Jesus to discuss his teachings (see John 3:8). The next poem was titled “The Woman at the Well,” based on John 4:9, in which Jesus asked a Samaritan woman for a drink of water, & was in the voice of the woman. Kathy also read excerpts from a longer poem titled “Mary at Golgotha” which was based on John 19:25.
The poems, while based on New Testament scriptures, transcended the texts to talk about the larger messages of compassion & the wonder of human interaction. I’m looking forward to having these & the other poems in Ringing the Changes in my hand to read & ponder.
You can find out how to pre-order your copy at https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/ringing-the-changes-by-kathleen-mccoy/