July 29, 2007

Poets in the Park, July 28

Well, we did it -- made it through all 4 readings of Poets in the Park without a rainout! This Saturday was particularly touchy because Alison Koffler & Dayl Wise were coming up from Woodstock & the weather predictions were iffy & changing all week. But there we were with evening sunshine at the Robert Burns statue.

Fortunately for Dayl Wise he had a stack of his just-published collection of poems by veterans, Post Traumatic Press 2007, because he left the folder with his planned reading on his kitchen table. He read his poems from the collection, recalling his experiences in Viet Nam & Cambodia in 1970, mixed in with his life now, like the "flash-backs" so characteristic of PTSD. I'm particularly fond of "Walking My Dog While at War." Dayl also read the works of other veteran-poets, including the virgin work of Jim Murphy & Jay Wenk. I was honored to be included when Dayl asked me to read "A Pain in the Neck" from the collection.

Alison Koffler read mostly from her new chapbook Animal Trance. Perhaps her signature piece is "Coyote is Coming," one I've heard her do at other readings, but is always chilling. Animals & nature are frequent subjects, such as "Zoological/Society/Meeting" & "Short Scene with Dog and Fish," but recently Alison has been writing about her experiences as a teacher in The Bronx; her "Unmeasurable by Standardized Testing" is a tribute to the daily life of teachers & students, the kind of poem I'd like to see more of. And I must thank her for her fine "Baghdad/Woodstock," her version of my poem "Baghdad/Albany" -- there is no better tribute, thanks, Alison.

And Thank you to all the poets who read this season & thank you particularly to the audience members, both intentional & unintentional: the wanderers with their dogs, ice cream cones, or on their way to the Playhouse, for listening & contributing to the success of the series. And thank you to the City of Albany DGS workers who keep the park so nice all year long.

You can find out how to get copies of Post Traumatic Press 2007 edited by Dayl Wise & of Animal Trance by Alison Koffler by sending an email to dswbike@aol.com or visiting the website PostTraumaticPress.org.

Join us next year at the Robert Burns statue in Washington Park, Albany, NY, Saturdays in July for Poets in the Park, deo volente.