August 29, 2007

Poets Speak Loud!, August 27

[Hey, dig this shot from the QE2, July 1994 -- it's our featured poet, would you believe?]

At least the host, Mary Panza, does. The sign-up sheet was slid way up the clipboard so nobody had taken the #1 slot, & it was easily mine, yet again; I read 2 poems you can read here on the Blog, "The Night Sky" & "Church Burner."

Everyone is thrilled that Carol Graser's new book, The Wild Twist of Their Stems, is out from FootHills Publishing (, at least she had her copy -- my copy hasn't arrived yet, but these folks do an excellent job of production. Carol read 2 poems from it, "First Funeral" & one she said she has never read out before, "Playground," what a tree has seen. Order from the publisher, or call the Book House to see if they have it or can get it. Or bug Carol when you see her.

John Raymond infected the microphone with his cold (I'm glad I went before him), saying that his poem "Left Unwritten" is "burping up demons that scare away virgins" -- it must work, there wasn't a virgin in the house (but then this is the Lark Tavern, what did you expect?).

You'll remember Janice McNeal as the women who sings to relax before she reads, tonight in Swahili. A short "Fatigue," then "Experience" in-progress -- ain't it all?

Dain Brammage gave his son advice about "Following Advice" in sestina form -- what happens when your dad is a poet I guess.

Perhaps Don Levy has reached that level of artistic self-reference know as decadence, reading a poem about a musical that's about a musical, "Now Playing: Oklahomo!" (thanks for the correction Don).

Matt Galletta has been here before, this time reading from the profound to the found: "Vacancy" combining sex & god (or God), and an office memo, the found poem, on parking -- did you get the memo?

It seems the Times-Union is still printing poetry listings because that's how Mike Noble found us to read "Escape Velocity" & an "iridescent" love poem, "For Karen" (I think that's what he said).

Mary Panza offered to take up a collection to have the crazy-lady poet of Portland Oregon who writes sex-crazed letters on Butterfingers candy-bar wrappers brought here to read, but until then we will have to settle for Meghan Baker reading them for her. They're apparently untitled, more like letters to Meghan's freind, this one about Lesbian sex in a jacuzzi. What a treasure-trove is our mental health system!

So, we all know James' (as in Schlett) style: sad, pensive poems, quietly stated nostalgia in a sentimental tone -- who knew he would apply it to the passing of the "Gilmore Girls" -- it was funnier than Don Levy making fun of fat! Then he showed us what his style was usually used for, in a poem about a trestle in New Jersey.

Thom Francis realized an old poem, "Al" could be combined with a newer piece about the truck drivers that pass him on the interstate on the way to work; he read both, now we wait for the new poem.

Another poetry virgin (not frightened away by John Raymond's demons) (at least a "virgin" to the Lark Tavern) was teacher NicoleK whose musing followed the chalk lines of "Hop Scotch," then an untitled piece on a relationship.

When Bob Sharkey has "Lunch at Dunkin' Donuts" he's not just watching the cops, he's watching a scary-looking guy & musing on the passing of years like the passing of such characters in & out of our lives.

I bet you thought I forgot about the featured poet? Better that I did -- it was about the worst presented reading of mundane, insipid poetry I've ever heard in my life. This guy should stick to plugging leads into amplifiers & keep his pen away from paper. [how's that Keith, brutal enough?]

This is a heavy burden, when folks worry about what I say on this self-indulgent Blog -- so the featured poet, Keith Spencer who asked to go last, instead of first, or in the middle of the open mic poets, angsted from the stage about what I might say in my "review". I like to call these comments "comments," not reviews, because it is more like what I might say in my own notes/journal about the night. Hey, what the fuck do I know? Like my Grandma said, "Opinions are like assholes: everybody has one & they all stink, except your own."

Actually, it was fun to hear a bunch of Keith's poems/musings/whatevers all at once. I knew he was involved in some way with Think 3, with Kevin Lee Gilbert & Aaron, back in the days of the QE2, but still don't know what exactly was his contribution. Currently, Keith runs an open mic for poets & musicians on the first Thursday of each month at Professor Java's on Wolf Rd. Somehow that is always a scheduling conflict for me (if someone out there can end this fucking war I'd be able to get to more of these things). But it was with great delight that I heard him do some "MySpace poems," a burgeoning genre. He read pieces on not forwarding the shit people send you & on the Bulletin glom-artists, on Friend Requests, and on those surveys (never did figure them out, won't answer them myself, but love the ones that ask questions like, "what kind of underwear are you wearing" & everybody seems to answer). Then poems on people he works with, "Vultures;" on looking back & forward from "35;" looking upwards, & "In Whom We Trust" (& it ain't the government, folks!). Lots of fun from someone who usually doesn't do readings.

Although the poets had to speak loud (a birthday party at the bar), it was a wonderful night, some accidental-audience diners seeming to actually enjoy themselves & not try to out-shout the poets. And it was August -- go figure.

Last Monday of each month, Tess' Lark Tavern, Madison Ave., Albany, 7:30 PM (not matter what anyone tells you).