January 13, 2008

Live from the Living Room, January 9

[Matt Galletta (right) in November at the Captial District Gay & Lesbian Community Center. He wore a different shirt tonight.]

With our straight-friendly host, Don Levy, the room packed with Matt (our featured poet)'s groupies.

Tonight's featured poet, Matt Galletta, had free books for any takers, Shorter Than Fiction, 54 pages co-authored with John Ferraro, through one of those print-on-demand online systems. An attractive, perfect-bound volume, too slim for a title on the spine. Most of his poems came from the book, are straight-forward, simply-stated narratives that start with the subject of the sentence (what does this mean? Not much I'm afraid). It's their quirky point of view that matters. For example, "Nothing Was Ever Certain With Her" is either a cooking lesson or the story of a break-up. His comments on the poetry scene skewered professors in "An Honest Man" & made me nervous about sending out poems with "Lemons." "Class Photo" ponders the future of a 5th grader as a college rapist. He also read a couple poems not in the book, "Participation is 20% of Your Grade" (but I guess it doesn't matter what the participation entails), & the recently written poem referencing Hurricane Katrina, "Restoring Order." These & others not mentioned were thoroughly enjoyable. Matt had been scheduled to read later in January at the NightSky Cafe, but that series has been gagged by the management. Too bad. When you see Matt out & about, ask about getting a copy of the book.

After the break I read a poem from Poems from Guantanamo by Osama Abu Kabir. Then I read my January birthday poem, "My Last Bardo." Shaun Baxter, the venue-less host, did "Global Warming," which should be on Al Gore's video or in the Sierra Club or Greenpeace newsletters (if not on the marquee in Times Square).

Jim Masters didn't have his own poem to read last month, but this month had 2 new ones. "Spirituality" explored what lifts his soul, from the Gay Men's support group, to Mass, & much else, while "El Amor Bruja" spoke about bewitched, spell-bound love.

John Ferraro is the poet in the front half of Shorter Than Fiction & his poems resemble Matt's (or, Matt's resemble John's) in their plain-spoken, ironic descriptions of daily life. "Art" is about a naked after-sex conversation about Bukowski, while "Just Another Stupid Poem About Caitlin" is a description in the future tense of a day in the life.

Bob Sharkey can be plain-spoken too. "Overhead Cables Humming" a meditation on the "simple" beliefs of the 1950s; & "Road Trip" took place in a dream (I think).

Our ebullient host, Don Levy, read Karen Veglia's poem about a performance by 3 Guys from Albany at the Schenectady Library, "It's Those Poets" from her new book, then he finished off the night with a new piece about his ear-piece (hearing aid that seems to dislike tapestries), "My Angry Left Ear."

2nd Wednesday of each month at the Gay Lesbian Community Center on Hudson Ave., in Albany.