December 13, 2007

Live from the Living Room, December 12

At the Capital District Gay & Lesbian Community Center on Hudson Ave. in Albany, with our capacious host, Don Levy.

The featured poet was Steven Holmes who is well known in the entertainment community in his alter-ego "Carmie Hope." But tonight there was no singing (nor the 2 hours he says it takes to get in costume), just some tender, sensitive poetry, including a poem for his deceased mother, 2 lush poems, "Sleep" & "Hammock" & one to his partner, a lost-love, found-again poem. The poems were mostly written after he had taken a writing class & weren't the more recent work he had planned to bring. But now he needs to go to more open mics to read his newer work. He had the best poetry theory line of the night, "Poetry is supposed to rhyme until you take a class."

During the short break some of us began discussing what is "gay poetry" (based on Tim Verhaegen effusing that he was glad there was a gay featured poet). Is it a poem on "gay" themes, or one written by a gay person? Could a straight person write a "gay poem"? Shaun compared it to "political" poems & pronounced that were only poems, which, like people, I think is essentially it. We like to label & classify to help us understand or deal with things, people, but ultimately, "we murder to dissect."

I read my old, recently revised "Coffee House Rant," & a new poem based on old notes from an exhibit of Alfred Stieglitz's photos of Georgia O'Keefe (the exhibit was in 1997 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC), "Georgia O'Keefe's Hands."

Matt Galleta's "Sketchbook" contrasted the time it took a girl to make a quick sketch of a boy with how long it took him to write the poem. Matt will be the featured poet here in January.

Jim Masters says he has some new poems, but the Muse told him they were "too muddled" to read tonight, so he read a quote he reads at the beginning of his day, that life if not a clock, but more like a cloud: be prepared for changes, for surprises. Yes, yes.

Tim Verhaegen read a revised version of "Summer Theater," a poem I remember hearing before, alluding to the loss of youth, but essentially a steamy description of gay men posing (& having sex) on a beach. It confirmed that basic principle of life, "I know it when I see it" -- that is a "gay poem". It settled the debate.

And if a poem can be like a fart (it happens real quick, leaves evidence but you wonder "what happened"?), "La Fame (Hunger)" by Shaun Baxter did just that.

Our host, Uncle Don Levy ended the night with "The Quilt Maker's Complaint," which he wrote for the very first Poets Action Against AIDS, organized by Tom Nattell in 1992. Then he detailed his trials & tribulations at the "Y" with the other patrons with "Stuff it in Your Gym Shorts."

Every second Wednesday of the month, & always straight-friendly.