July 11, 2007

Poets in the Park, July 7

Poets in the Park has been celebrating poetry in July at the Robert Burns statue in Washington Park, Albany, NY since 1989. The picture at left shows the originator of the series, Tom Nattell, during the 2004 series. Before he died in January 2005 Tom asked me to continue Poets in the Park. The 2007 season will have readings on Saturdays July 7 through July 28, starting at 7:00 PM, free & open to the public. The Robert Burns statue is near where Henry Johnson Blvd. passes through Washington Park and crosses Hudson Ave.

The first reading in the series, on July 7, was “Under Cover: Albany Poets read Albany Poets” in which the poets each read the poems of other local poets. Thom Francis of Albany Poets, Inc. (www.albanypoets.com) served as the host.

Shaun Baxter read Mary Panza's poems tentaively, whimsically, not like Mary's in-your-face style -- a brilliant choice. But there were more similarities than one would think, in the bar settings, the intense irony, the deconstructing of our experiences, even with the reversal of gender (but then in 40 years Shaun, who eats a lot of soy, may grow breasts, & chances are they could be bigger than Mary's). Then there was the play on the ellipses, the "dot dot dot".

Carol Graser "channeled the erotic poems of Dain Brammage" as Thom described it, but Carol demurred. But strangely, again, the poems could have been written by Carol if she were Dain, without the chewing tobacco.

Next, I read Carol's "Tribe" & "Vagina" because if I were Carol these were the poems I would do. I tried to recall Carol reading when I rehearsed the poems & when I read them it was difficult to look up at the audience & see her sitting there. Also, I like to perform poems that I could never have written, like "Vagina" & its assault on the sound of that curious word. Then as I reached the last lines there were cries from the audience, but, alas, it was not due to my stellar reading -- some random maniac pulled down our "Poets in the Park" sign with it's 10 foot neon pole & ran off. Thom said, "Someone had a bad day," & my son Blake mused that he "doesn't like vaginas."

Mary "effen" Panza read Shaun's poems. "He's so sensitive," she said. His poem about bumming a cigarette from local street person Dean could have been written by her yesterday. She did a marvelous rendition of Shaun's "tribute" to Goth poets.

Dain Brammage ended by reading my poems, "Slam Poem" & "The bass player's thoughts." What did he mean by my "mischevious ways"? Dain has his own Slam poem ("Slam"), & I particularly liked to hear the slower cadence of "The bass player..." & his interpretation of the ending. Thanks Dain!

And I was particularly happy to have my son Blake there to meet my friends, see me in action, & hear my poems read by Dain.