July 23, 2007

Third Thursday Poetry Night, July 19

(Tim Verhaegen earlier this year reading at Caffe Lena -- needed the hat that night.)

Another great night at the Social Justice Center, some poets/audience members came fresh from the artist talk at AIHA, & the "every-other-Thursday-night-poets" descended the hill to support their friend Tim Verhaegen, the featured poet. My muse was "the old poet of the city", C.P. Cavafy.

Last night's NightSky host Shaun Baxter had "A Letter to Harry Potter" (Shaun works at one of those corporate bookstores that was going to be open late Friday night).

Mary McCarthy was "Packing" for vacation, Jan Tramontano read about our "friend", "The Anti-Muse," & Mimi Moriatry's sister uses the F-word, she said. Not like the bag-lady "Sermon in the Bus Shelter" Don Levy told us about.

The Voorheesville poets clustered around the feature, not for protection, but to set him off, the way the place settings set off a fine meal (is that a little over the top?). Anyhow, Tom Corrado's poem "Partial Deafness" described what it is like to wear a hearing aid (& a couple heads nodded in agreement, thus we know they were working). Then Mark O'Brien did a poem in the accent of Bobby Burns (as in the site of Poets in the Park).

I actually have a photo of Tim Verhaegen, the featured poet, back in 1996 at an open mic at Border's, with hair!. Then he disappeared, at least to the open mic scene, to reappear last year. In the meantime he was meeting regularly with the Every Other Thursday Night group, working on his poems. Tonight he read some old favorites, like "Italian Kids" & "Match Box Cars," as well as the new "Hannah's Revenge," his mother & his growing up a major theme in his work. As is gay relationships, in "New Man." He also included some short pieces that were stories of his own & some told to him by friends over dinner, "Mothers & Fathers." Tim sprinkles his poems with rhymes, or rather weaves rhyme in & out, & uses other repetitions, of lines, phrases to good effect like in music. He used to worry about reading "gay poems" to a (mostly) straight audience, but we are all different in our own ways & that is one of the joys of open mics (& poetry in general): to hear, experience that difference. While I'm well aware that there is still plenty of homophobia in our society, at least in Albany the mainstream is not homophobic & there is acceptance in the community for the diversity of lifestyles & choices of others. For example, at the "Live from the Living Room" series (2nd Wednesdays) at the Capital District Gay & Lesbian Community Center, there are usually more "straight" people there than gay. Tim gave a fine reading (I personally appreciate that fact that he obviously practiced & timed his reading) that I know many in the audience enjoyed very much, & admired & appreciated his openness.

I like to follow the break after the feature & tonight did Tom Nattell's "Hiroshima" rather than one of my own.

The Voorhessville poets continued with the the diva of V-ville, Barbara Vink letting it all out with "What I Want" (the title cries for an exclamation point). Then Dennis Sullivan gave us the more sedate version with the just-written "13 Rules for Living a Sane Life." Dennis will be the feature here on October 18.

It was 40 years ago, Alan Catlin reminded us with "The Summer of Love." And 40 years since the Newark riots as well.

Joe Krausman pondered being an "old guy" with the just-written "In the Parking Lot."

Our poetry-virgin for the night (every open mic needs one) was Ed Block, another "old guy," who read "The Paradox," about the recent marriage of 2 young career Marines who are resigning their commissions & getting out.

Austen, after wandering about, did some stand-up comedy, followed by his mother, Carol Graser who read a 10-year old poem, "Siblings," that included Austen, sort of.

Moses Kash III took a while to get started then pondered "Why Am I Called A Negro?" (I could make the obvious joke, but I won't).

A.C. Everson breezed by with the short "Summer Dream."

Bob Sharkey referenced Dennis Sullivan's poem read at WordFest, with his own shot (hmm), "Siena Library Poem" -- those Siena guys!

Marty Mulenex ended the evening with a poem about being drawn to a place in the park, waiting for the poetry to begin.

Every Third Thursday, Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY, 7:30 start.