August 1, 2008

Third Thursday Poetry Night, July 17

On a hot July night at the Social Justice Center in Albany, I started off with section 31 from H.D.'s The Flowering of the Rod as tonight's Muse.

Alan Catlin was down from Schenectady on the bus to tell us "Only the Undead Know Schenectady." Bob Sharkey overheard a Marine "In a Thai Restaurant" headed to Iraq, part of a continuing series of poems. Frank Robinson read a love poem (any day can be Valentine's Day when you are in love) celebrating free will (& love) in the face of Science.

Thérèse Broderick was just back from England with "Full Moon," a painting in Bath. Moses Kash affirmed his greatness & the greatness of "the children of Black Africa." A new poet in town, from Gainesville, Florida, Janet, lamented "Nowhere Can I Find the American Dream" (but for certain she can find poetry readings here).

Our featured poet, Alifair Skebe, has had her book El Agua Es la Sangre de la Tierra published by Finishing Line Press, in Georgetown, KY. In spite of its Spanish title, it is a long poem in English. She included some sections from it in her reading, as well as other poems from another manuscript she said she has not looked at in a while because of her current work on the poetry of Gwendolyn Brooks. She began with a "summery, lovish" poem that evoked Gertrude Stein, & then went darker & darker, touching on the Iraq war & Death ("Order of the Father," "Death is ..." with images from the mundane to the metaphysical, & the concluding "Inside the 18-Wheeler"), with her own mortality spinning off Emily Dickinson, in "What Can One Do?", when in walks a curious, befuddled stranger from the street, just like the first time she read the poem, she tells us. In between she read poems exploring images of creation myths, & the beach.

After the break, I read, for my friends Charlie & Jack in the audience from Chicago, "At the Garfield Park Conservatory" written when Jack was only 12 years old. W.D. Clarke read about an incident 20 years ago, "The Dead Marine." Alan Casline, from the Rootdrinker Institute, read a poem for his poet friend & hiking buddy, Mark O'Brien. Chicago Charlie Rossiter gave us a raucous rendition of his "Even Yuppies Get the Blues," with his son, Jack Rossiter-Munley, playing appropriately white-boy blues accompaniment on guitar, oh yeah. Anthony Bernini finished off the night with "Lao Tzu Comes to Grand St."

33 Central Ave., Albany, NY, every Third Thursday, one poem!