October 30, 2009

How to Be Inappropriate Book Party, October 23

Just a quick note about this event (& the book, by local prof Daniel Nester) at Valentines. Since there was pizza, lots of drinking & Karaoke that night, my notes dissolved in beer -- but I did get a few pictures. Noteworthy stage performances, in addition to Nester reading mercifully short segments from the book (we all were impatient to sing), were Tony-the-Intern doing "I Am the Walrus," & Katie Vermilyea giving it her best shot in Pat Benatar boots -- with lace stockings! Of course, I was fantastic doing "Wild Thing" & "I Wanna Be Sedated," both with key lyric changes -- hey, you had to be there, & you missed it.

I read How to Be Inappropriate (from Soft Skull Press & currently available at the Book House) mostly during commercials while watching the baseball league championship series. The book has the expected inappropriate topics like farting & a "study" of ExtenZe (if you don't know, Google it), but is really a clever marketing device to get undergraduates to buy the book for the 2 really fine, thoughtful (& largely appropriate) memoirs clustered towards the end of the book. "Goodbye to All Them" is the story of the author's leaving New York & the poetry scene & finding a home in Albany. "Garden Path Paragraphs" takes us through the complex issues involving him & his wife trying to conceive a child (NO, he did not need instructions on how to do it), the eventual birth of their daughter & the beginning of finding what "Fathering" means. In fact, Miriam was there this night at Valentine's briefly but we never did find out what song she would've performed if she had the chance. Perhaps the theme song from "Sponge Bob Square Pants"?

Wize Wordz, October 22

Bless had just been the featured poet at the Third Thursday Poetry Night at the Social Justice Center last week & handed out flyers for this event, at Ballinger's on Howard St., so I just had to check it out. There was a slow start as folks found their way in, but we eventually go going, doing a couple rounds before taking a break.

Bless started us off, pointing out the "soapbox" stage, & wondering, "Sometimes I ask myself why I do what I do... why do you speak?" I realized the audience needed something hot, so I did "Phone Sex" (the poem, not actually calling someone up) from memory. Passion Poet followed me with "Alter" (or it could be "Altar") about her need to perform, to be on stage. Sam Perkins was being autobiographic, looking back, "that's alright" (which is the audience response to each poet who performs, when Bless calls to us after the poem).

Suddenly I was back, & did my love poem to "The Lilacs." Then Sam Perkins sang about "traveling this road of mine" which became a hymn to girls in turtle necks. And Passion Poet continued her story about her history, her love of poetry in "Ego."

After Bless did "Jazz" he started something with a guy-poem about not apologizing, which got Passion Poet's ire up & she responded by telling us what's a real man. Tanesha brought us back to the real world of police murder in "Almost a Will."

Sam Perkins gave us the 2 sides of love with a loud cry that "you're gonna love me" then a fabulous poem on love dying, how "we really don't dance anymore..." Nickey Black came in on the tail-end of the love debate with the bitter "Fuck Love." And Bless tried to redeem himself with a deep love poem.

The night continued, I'm sure, but I had to leave, & I will be back, hopefully, on the next 4th Thursday at Ballingers (in the downstairs/basement bar), 7:30 it says, but it's on "CP-Time" (as folks say) so plan on starting late. Worth waiting for.

October 29, 2009

Bowery Poetry Club, October 18

I was privileged to read at this hotspot of NYC poetry in the 4th Sunday poetry slot, with open mic, hosted by George Wallace. Once before, a number of years ago, the 3 Guys from Albany had performed on this stage. I was just a few blocks from where I once lived many years ago, & if memory serves me right, this space was some sort of industrial supply store. Where have the bums gone?

Susan Maurer was the first feature, reading from her new book Perfect Dark, available online from ungovernable press. Her topics ranged across the globe, from swan Boats in Boston, to being on Amtrak, to "Mozambique," to a zinc mine in New Jersey with day-glo rocks, to hanging out "With the Unbearables." It was refreshing to hear her say about one poem that she wasn't sure what it meant.

I paid tribute to my NYC past with "Matins & Lauds" from Meditations of a Survivor (A.P.D., 1991), then read last year's "The Cardinal." I was thrilled to have some of my children there & so read for them "Jack Sketching" & "To Madeleine" (thanks, kids). I returned to Albany with "The Wall." The dreaded audience-particiption piece was "Labels & Names" & I ended with "Peace Marchers at the Viet Nam Memorial."

I had seen Linda Lerner, the third featured poet, read a while back at the Colony Cafe in Woodstock. Her poems are generally short, urban, often taking down those stuck on themselves, like professors lecturing on the blues, or performance poets, or "Mr. avant-garde Comes to a Brooklyn Diner." Her city images came through best in "The City Feeds Me Hungry," or the ordinary day of 9/11 in "The Scream," & "Riding on Amtrak to NYC from Philadelphia."

I didn't see a sign-up sheet, George just scanned the audience for the poets & asked them if they wanted to read. As a result, I'm not sure I got all the names correct (& sometimes George didn't say the last names), so feel free to send me any corrections if necessary & I'll make them as I get them. After a poem describing the Lower East Side, Miriam Stanley had a cluster of love/sex poems, including sex in a pool & in Central Park. Loren O'Brien considered the dilemma of going "Back to Him." Patricia Carragon read poems on a tapestry, & about subways among others, later traded books (Journey to the Center of My Mind, Rogue Scholars Press).

Roxanne Hoffman's poems fluttered around birds, "A Red Feather Song" & "Space as Poor Sparrows" in Autumn. Andrea wondered "Are You Getting this All Down?" as broccoli & her self disappeared in her poem. Russ contrasted Vermont ("Green Mountain Meditation" on the elections) with NYC & Cornell West. Then the great thrill of seeing our Albany friend Nicole Peyrafitte (now living in Bay Ridge) come to the stage to sing, just like she was back at Justin's on Lark St.

What a great day -- friends & family in the audience, new poetry friends, some even eager to come to the mytho-poetic land of Albany, who would've thunk? As I was leaving, the next poetry act was setting up, none other than Anne Waldman, but I was tired & hungry & we had to leave. Maybe one can rent a room over the Club & just live there?

October 27, 2009

Third Thursday Poetry Night, October 15

I invoked the muse of César Vallejo (1892 - 1938) with a reading from his Trilce (in translation by Clayton Eshleman), then on to the open mic for a while. Alan Catlin started us off with a Halloween-related poem, "Mechanical Lazarus." Tim Verhaegen was back & read "What If I Said" deconstructing conversation, effective even when read only once. W.D. Clarke was anxious to get on the road to get to Canada but stopped by to read his short poem about "Taps" ("Butterfield's Lullabye" is the original title of that tune). The birthday-boy Don Levy read his poem about the Duggar family with 19 kids, poor Mom.

Bless, our featured poet, is an experienced spoken word poet who came out of the NYC slam scene. But his work is real poems recited with feeling & honesty & without unnecessary theatrics or a lot of explaining. He began with "sweet jazz sounds" that are his influences, saying he doesn't need the poisons of smoke & alcohol to write or perform. Then one about a conversation with a homeless guy, who picked his pocket. Then his take on "The Perfect Life": do we really want it? "Traffic" was a tale of being stuck in the madness & rush "to get there" but then realizing the delay was due to a child being hit by a car. He is now hosting Wize Wordz open mic at Ballingers, 42 Howard St., on the 4th Thursdays, that I will get to next week & report back.  Tonight, he left the audience wanting more, the best compliment.

I followed the break with my poem from the summer, "Respect." Moses Kash III followed me with "Gee, Thanks for the Party." The appropriately acting Matt Galletta read, again, his poem "Shooting Cats." Sylvia Barnard read "To Harry Patch," the last British World War I veteran who died last year, anti-war in his later years.

Anthony Bernini had his driveway sealed & "The Scent of the Earth" was the poem that followed. The venerable Ted Adams is often in the audience at community readings, but tonight was the first time he was signed up to read, & he recited a love poem to a tree. Shirley Brewer was back again visiting from Baltimore with advice on "How To Kill Time."

We do this each third Thursday at the Social Justice Center in Albany (on Central Ave. between Henry Johnson Blvd. & Lark St., starting about 7:30 PM.  Your donation helps support poetry programs by the Poetry Motel Foundation, & helps the Social Justice Center.

October 25, 2009

Live from the Living Room, October 14

Our straight-friendly host, Don Levy, began with reading "Buffalo Bill" by e.e. cummings, whose birthday is today, & "90 North" by Randall Jarrell who died on this date in 1965.

The featured poet was Jason Crane, whose poems, he said, had been rejected by all the best poetry journals (sounds familiar). His poems are simply stated, straight-forward accounts of events in his life, like the neighbor's new baby coming home, or meeting family he hadn't know, or watching the election returns, even about his bookshelves. He read a long work in progress based in New Orleans that described the approach of hurricane Katrina; "Robbie Burns' Hat" on the annual "beret-toss" memorial ritual in Albany; & "Luxury Hotel" from his experience as a labor organizer. He also shared his love-poet side with "The Menagerie," a poem about meeting his wife, & the gentle narrative of love & sex, "The Soft Friction of Sliding Glass." Jason is also the master of The Jazz Session website, interviews with jazz players, reviews & musings.

I lead off the open mic with 2 jazz themed poems in Jason's honor, "The bass player's thoughts..." & "Acrostic Jazz," for Thelonious Monk. Bob Sharkey shared his thoughts on the first sight of his daughter & the fear of all that can wrong, then read "For Herself & her Soul" with images of autumn animals, geese & the war. Sally Rhoades was just back from a trip to Cyprus & included a poem about dressing up in words, being fashionable with books.

Thérèse Broderick's poem "Smile" was a word game using as many combinations of the letters in her title as she could come up with. Matt Galletta knows how much I like animal poems & so did his ironic "Shooting Cats." Don Levy, on the eve of his 49th birthday, read "Old Man Levy He Just Keeps Rolling Along," the poem he read recently at the UAG Gallery, but with a new title.

This is a cozy, intimate event each month, with a handful of poets gathered around, informally chatting, listening to poems, gossiping. I recommend it (on the 2nd Wednesday of each month at the Gay & Lesbian Community Center on Hudson Ave. in Albany, NY) knowing all too well that if everyone came to it, its character would change -- but then that's not necessarily a bad thing either, as Heraclitus once said.

October 23, 2009

David Chorlton, October 13

Alan Catlin had alerted me that David Chorlton would be passing through the Albany area so I invited him to come & read at a "salon" at my house, in an intimate setting with select Albany poets. David Chorlton has lived in Phoenix since 1978 but he was born in Austria & grew up in Manchester, close to rain and the northern English industrial zone. He is the winner of Slipstream's 22nd Annual Poetry Chapbook Competition for his chapbook From the Age of Miracles.

David is lean, grey-haired & craggy, with just the right touch of an accent to complete the image of the poet. But it is his work that proves he is a poet. This night he gave a brief, well-planned reading from work in his chapbook & other poems. He has found a way to combine political statements with images in poetry without the abstract big words (you know, "Justice," "Beauty," "Truth," "Soul," etc.).  See his "Letter to Pasolini" ("...how a communist could fit inside a sports car..."), "The Invisible Demonstrator" or "Letter to Puccini." He loves the desert ("Nothing") & referred frequently to the writings of Edward Abbey. Contemporatry poets writing philosophical musings or political cant can learn how to turn their scribblings into poems by reading what David Chorlton has written.

In "Postcards from the Time of Waiting" he writes,

While we wait
we read anything we don't need
to remember. Printed words
have become grains
of sand in an hourglass.

Not these.

Albany Poets Presents: No Gimmick Open Mic, October 9

I'd missed the first of this new series last month so made a point of getting here to check this out, in one of my favorite venues, the UAG Gallery on Lark St. The host, of course, was Mary Panza.

I signed up first & read with a nod to Halloween, "Zombie Gourd," then the sexy "The Beach" & "In the Oval Mirror." Cynthia Solywoda did a poem in her made-up language, followed by the translation; then "Sweet Jane's Descent" a song for a prostitute with the great line, "it's never easy being easy;" & ended with a piece for an Iranian girl killed by mistake.

"Murrow" is Keith Spencer on guitar backing up Thom Francis' poems. Thom faced a new day, a new blank page, then a poem to an angel with her wings tucked away. Don Levy had a new poem written last night for this new series, "You Have to Have a Gimmick," addressed to politicians & poets; "Getting Older by the Minute" on his up-coming birthday, & the Partridge Family tribute(?), "If the School Bus is a Rockin' Don't Come a-Knockin'." Chris Borzek has come to a few open mics & his poems are plagued by awkward meters, goofy rhymes ("clarity/parity"), & forced metaphors (a rose in a desert in the Winter?). But he is bold in trying his work out & just needs to read some poets writing in the last 50 years or so, & listen to what others at the open mics are reading -- & his own inner voice which I'm sure doesn't talk like that.

Michael Purcell likes to confront political & social themes in his meanderings, like his "Alternative Reality TV" with made up sponsors, or "Heroes," with the occasional appearance of God in a Mother's Day card. Bob Sharkey is one of the local poets that younger scribes need to listen to; tonight he tried out flash-fiction in "Greatest Miser Ever Was," then read again "All for the Masses," which improves with each hearing, & one about visiting an old friend in the country, "Going Up."

This is a relaxed, casual new series, a good way to start your 2nd Friday evening each month, still plenty of time to catch some music elsewhere or lurk the pick-up scene, at the UAG Gallery, Lark St., Albany, NY.

October 20, 2009

Frequency North Series, October 8

The first of the season's readings at the College of St. Rose, which is coordinated by prof. Daniel Nester, was an interesting mix of prose: magically written non-fiction & over-imagined fiction.

Peter Connors read from his memoir Growing Up Dead: The Hallucinated Confessions of a Teenage Deadhead. He considered that great philosophical question that has made egg-heads spin for ages, "Aren't all Deadheads just a bunch of middle-class white kids?" Like all good histories should, he began with the Beats & the disintegration to Hippies, to "straights" striking back & on to entrancing descriptions of concert experiences. Good story telling no matter what the genre label. Oh, yeah, "not all Deadheads are alike."

Jessica Anthony read from her debut novel, The Convalescent. The story is built around a main character who is a short, hairy mute who sells meat out of a bus. A classic outcast that all kinds of outrageous incidents can be created around. It sounds forced & she read too fast.

Shows you that reality, even tinged with psychedelia, can be more interesting than forced imagination.

The series continues into the Spring semester, find 'em on Face Book.

Caffé Lena Poetry Open Mic, October 7

Our wonderfully relaxed host, Carol Graser, started us off with Stephen Dobyns' "Why Fool Around," then on to the open mic, to fool around or not.

Rapper Chazee (not sure I got the spelling) started us off with "Last Hope;" good to hear some hip-hop in the mix tonight. Carol Kenyon was back, with "Amelia By the Sea" about my favorite place, Cape Ann. Alan Catlin read "Near Death in the Afternoon on Becker St.," the title poem from a new book currently in production, then a poem about "Ericka from Far Rockaway" & 9/11 & the Queens airliner crash.

David Mook's poems started with disasters on this planet, then pondered things cosmically in "The Descent of Man." George Fisher's poems were gritty working-class stories of students in the ghetto ("Portrait") & "Ribs" that described working in a meat-packing plant, with a touch of the biblical. Melinda Perrin was new here, & read peace poems about Aung San Suu Kyi ("Vigil") & closer to home about Jikonsaseh, the Seneca Mother of Nations.

Tonight's featured poet was Stuart Bartow, a regional poet that we don't see out at readings. He read a selection of poems that fit loosely with the theme of Halloween, including watching the old movie "The Ghost & Mrs. Muir" with a friend (& mis-remembering it), "Better Ghost;" "Frankenstein, Unfinished;" & remembering black & white TV movies in "Karloff's Mummy" (he also read "Nephrititi's Mummy"). "Centaurs" was about night-riding horses as a kid (& available as a broadside if you purchased his book Reasons to Hate the Sky (WordTech Editions, 2008)). Other poems referenced Borges, Graves' The White Goddess (one of my touchstones I need to get back to), & Einstein in a poem on a lawn. I'm not a big fan of cat poems, but that's because such poems are usually about the poet's pet; Bartow said he liked cats, but his "The Ninth Cat" was about feral cats & so it escaped cloying sentimentality.

Our host, Carol Graser, read a tribute, in sestina form, to the frequently-arrested peace-activist Linda LeTendre, "Change" (keep at it Linda). W.D. Clarke read a funny story in ballad form he heard from his great-uncle, "The Collector," about a panty thief. In my notes next to the entry about Marilyn McCabe's poem "Wasp Nest" I wrote "Vallejo" so she must've have referenced the work of the great Peruvian poet, César Vallejo.

Todd Fabozzi read "Black Gold" & "The Levee of Indifference" from his book Umbrageous Embers (The Troy Book Makers, 2008). Bob Sharkey read a poem in which he combined a great blue heron, lace curtains & a circus fire (hey, that's what poetry does), then "All for the Masses" that he's been reading around, al-Queda at Hoffman's Playland.

Ellen (who probably has a last name but I didn't catch it) read "The Man in the Moon" which was not a night sky poem at all. James Schlett is generally a quiet poet so he read an excerpt from a letter to a friend about the quiet within, then "Relief" on another form of quiet, read quietly, of course. In honor of our featured poet (who didn't read that many "nature" poems anyway), I read "(How I'm doing my part to) Preserve the Adirondacks" & my urban nature poem "The Lilacs." Thérèse Broderick finished the night with a poem about Austin, Texas, "City Limits" (not a bad town for poets: I was there once for 4 days & found 2 poetry open mics).

Another wonderful night of community poetry at Caffè Lena. But it seems to be phenomena of these poetry readings that when a professor-poet reads (Stuart Bartow teaches at Adirondack Community College), his/her colleagues who come to hear them read, leave after the break as if they could only tolerate the open mic poets in the beginning because they were waiting to hear their friend read. This happens all the time here & tonight was no exception. To Stuart Bartow's everlasting credit he stayed to the end even though his buddies escaped as soon as they could. But the community poets stayed, & I guess that's what matters.

Every 1st Wednesday at historic Caffè Lena in Saratoga Springs, NY -- come & read.

October 12, 2009

Albany Poets Present!, October 6

This actually happened this month, it wasn't just a couple of us guys sitting around the bar at Valentines drinking beer & talking trash; poets, other poets from elsewhere, actually showed up. So el presidente! (Thom Francis) had to actually be the host & pass around an actual sign-up sheet & all the other stuff you have to do when poets actually show up to read. Damn!

I was the first up & read a couple very old break-up poems, the kind of feelings I don't even worry about anymore -- the Hank Williams pastiche "This Feels So Bad It's Got to be the Blues," & the vindictive "Heartbreaker." Jim Clark & his girlfriend (who read later) were just hanging out at the bar when a poetry open mic broke out so he "read" a couple of his songs, the waking-up drunk song, "My Right Arm," & the sad love-song, "Blue Eyes."

Mike Purcell has been showing up at local readings lately, reading his philosophical/political musings. Tonight he mused on our "-ness" in "What Species are You?" He introduced "Thoughts on Words, Volume 1" as "short" -- not! He brings a certain prosaic philosophical pondering to the stage. R.M. Engelhardt read "Words" which I think is included in one of his books, or at least another poem by the same title, & a poem about looking for the next love.

Dain Brammage was back reading "Smashed" (I mean that was the poem's title) from his iPhone, then "Current" playing on the meanings of the word with images of demons & electric guitars. Primrose Coke (she said that was her name) as another new voice, this one with a British accent, read a couple pieces from her notebook: twisted English images, & a description of a guy she met in the woods.

You never know from where folks are going to show up & tonight we were fortunate that enough showed for a reading -- Yeah! Every first Tuesday at Valentine's near where New Scotland Ave. begins in Albany, about 8PM.

October 9, 2009

Java Poets Reading, October 4

This was a reading by the "Java Poets Collective" for their anthology, Java Wednesdays (The Troy Book Makers) at Professor Java's Coffee Sanctuary on Wolf Rd. in Colonie. These 11 poets have been meeting monthly since they were in a poetry workshop with Cara Benson, sponsored by the NYS Writers Institute. They packed the back room at the coffee house, proving the old adage that "if your friends & relatives don't come to your readings, who will?"

Actually, if you went to the reading, there was little reason to buy the book, since the poets essentially read the poems they published in the book. There was no MC or host (Jan Tramontano did a general introduction) as each poet introduced the one following them. Many audience members in the hot & crowded back room used their copies of the anthology as a scorecard to keep track of not only who was coming up, but what the were reading.

I go to a lot of poetry readings & only 2 of the poets here today show up at local literary events with any kind of frequency (Jan Tramontano & Cara Benson). The topics of the poems were similarly limited, with lots of Nature poems, memories of childhood, church, & animal poems. The reading itself was over-loaded with animal poems, many not in the book, but read particularly at the end when patience & tolerance was ebbing. Perhaps it was a function of the age of the workshopers (most in the 50+ range) that there were few love poems & no sex poems; there was nary an urban poem & scant that played with language. Likewise, humor was a rare element. It was a very "safe" reading.  Groups like this tend to be insular, feeding upon themselves so that many of the poems tend to sound alike, the way people say owners tend to look like their dogs (or is that the other way around?).

These folks are to be commended for their persistence, but they need to branch out, read other poets (besides Mary Oliver, Ed Hirsch, Billy Collins, et al.), go to poetry readings, or even get real bold & attend one of the many poetry open mics in the region, i.e., get off the farm & come downtown. Workshops can be helpful to poets for a while, but, as John Steinbeck once said, "Beware of advice -- even this."
[There is a full gallery of photos from the reading at my Flickr! site.]

Calling All Poets, October 2

I've been meaning to get down to the Howland Cultural Center in Beacon, NY for years, but this was my first time, & I was one of the featured readers. The building is a re-furbished library & is the first historic building in the Hudson Valley to go Geo-Thermal. There was an exhibit of photos of John Lennon & Beatles posters. Our host was Mike Jurkovic, a fine poet in his own write (as Lennon would say).

And I like to say I always enjoy hearing Guy Reed, the other featured poet. His poems are filled gloriously with the everyday, with his daughter ("Born Late") & with memories ("October Grey," "Upon Turning 39"), & has some marvelous titles, "How To Paint Like a 5-Year Old," "The Body Falling In Love," "Why I Don't Write Like Frank O'Hara." They are discursive, pensive & gentle, a pleasure to listen to. And I won't ever be able to go to fireworks without thinking of making up my own names for the different displays ("At the Fireworks").

I read second & did a mix of poems, some memory like "Going Postal," some recent like "Falling Asleep in Patchouli," some political (of course), & ending with a tribute to Tom Nattell, "Theology 101" & "Chasing Tom." I had fun & folks even bought some books at the break. Thanks!

Robert Milby was the host for the open mic; each poet did 2 or 3 poems. John Kenselaar read about Nature & love. Roberta Gould included a very old romantic love poem in her set, & the strange "The Mob Murdered my Meat Man". N. Wilson Enoch has published a novel & read narrative pieces; I was particularly impressed by the boyhood reminiscence "Poor Is Cold Feet in the Morning". Christopher Pinky Gazeent read the first poem he wrote, filled with youthful angst, of course, & some more recent pieces. Lynn Hoins' "Autumn Woman" raked leaves in the cemetery, & she included a couple poems to a painter friend.

I like when Cheryl Rice is on the sign-up sheet. She read "The World in Truth is a Wedding" and the memory poem "Driving Past the Corner" with the image of Henry Hudson setting out on his journey. Christopher Wheeling read a piece by another surrealist Peter Lloyd, then his own surrealist musings, mixing up John Lennon & asbestos abatement. Marissa Mourgues was the sexiest of the night, poetry as "only" words, like sex-teasing. Glenn Werner was perhaps the most formulist of the night, included a villanelle, & also had a poem about a painter. Robert Milby began with a poem by Wallace Stevens ("A Postcard from the Volcano"), then 2 Autumn poems of his own, "Visions of Autumn" & "Crow Weather."

Sharon Butler improvised a rant about living in a homeless shelter. Mike Jurkovic, one of the driving forces behind the Calling All Poets Series, said in one poem, "I come from a long line of weathermen..." & in another strung words like beads, & then commented on politics & poetry in "Color Code." Wanda Shafer's poems were intense, lapidary, reminding me somewhat of H.D., quoting Edna St. Vincent Millay in one. You had to pay very close attention & one hearing was not enough (it rarely is).

It was a fine evening filled with wonderful & varied open mic poets, both familiar & new to me. I was very pleased to have been asked to be one of the features, to share that spot with Guy Reed, & to perform under the watchful gaze of John Lennon. It's held every 1st Friday, at 8:00 PM ($4.00 admission includes refreshments), at the Howland Cultural Center, 477 Main St., Beacon, NY.

October 4, 2009

Poets Speak Loud! September 28

Last Monday again, at the Lark Tavern with Mary Panza our host.

I read my re-write of a AAA listing, "The Spa" & the jazz/nature poem, "Respect." Josh McIntyre hung around after work to join us & read "The Radio" & "The Bar at the Heartbreak Hotel." Julie Lomoe gave us more information than we needed about the state of her armpits, then read her Blog about writing a poem about her morning glories (check it out).

Dan Stalter continued the 21st Century tech by reading from his Blackberry about an intense experience on a mattress, then an intro to a book he never wrote, "The Dreamer's Parasite." It was a thrill to see Carolee Sherwood here for her first time & to hear "Impossible to Tell the Years Apart" (on love), then the outrageous suburban housewife porn fantasy about the pizza delivery guy, rhyming on sex noises -- next time join in.

I've been a fan of the poetry of Alifair Skebe since I first heard her perform in the old Jawbone series & I've included her in Poets in the Park series & the Third Thursday Poetry Night at the Social Justice Center. She was in different form tonight with recent poems of childhood, progressing more or less chronologically from age 3, "Dancing in the Rain," to using her mother's lipstick in the car ("Red"), getting hit by "The Swing," "The Goose Girl," religion & girlhood in "Bloody Mary," 2 poems about her Dad & fear & punning on "Bible Belt," falling out of trees & ballet ("How Not to be Seen"), ending with the cut-up of "Desire" (after Sol Le Witt). A wonderful poet I love hearing however rarely.

Rich Tomasulo was back again with "I Remember Myself Remembering" then a re-write of the Mass, "The Fat Cat's Toast." A new voice, announced simply as "Gardner" did a sexy piece on "The Waterbed," the closest thing to a love poem he has written, so he said -- sexy & fun. Speaking of which, Jill Wickham was also a first timer here, with funny, playful poems from being a Mom, "Mother as a Pirate or Dead Bells Tell No Tales" & "Death of a Pirate" which was not sad at all.

Christy came over with Gardner (don't they have last names in Vermont?) & did a cover of a song from memory with nary a slip, accompanying herself with only one string on her guitar; it was quite a performance. Brian ended the night with what he described as an excerpt from a longer piece, this about a guy in a train station going home to a funeral discussing sunglasses. You never know what you are going to hear at an open mic.

Show up on the last Monday of any month at Tess' Lark Tavern on Madison Ave. in Albany around 7:30, have some dinner, catch some poetry, say hi to Nicole, our ever-so-pleasant-&-lovely waitress. Read a poem.

October 3, 2009

Sunday Four Poetry, September 27

Mike Burke was our host. His chapbook, Sonnets for a Summer Dog, is just out from Benevolent Bird Press.

I was the first up, read the old QE2-inspired "Yellow Cab," the dead rockers "Summer is Ended," & the tiny "Yom Kippur 2004." Marion Menna read from her new chapbook from Finishing Line Press, An Unknown Country. Her poems were responses to Catholicism & the Mass: "Communion," "The Difference" (also on Communion), "Sing the Lenten Song," & "When it Comes." Larry Rapant responded to a fellow workshop-poet's dictum not to use first names in poems with "One Sugar Extra Cream" in which he ponders what he will take with him when he dies & puts as many first names in the poem as he can.

Mimi Moriarty said she found a series of "bear poems" -- the first a dream, then the horrific experience of "Family Camping" as a sestina, & the "Meandering Bear" on her deck. Dennis Sullivan said not enough of us are "Looking Forward to Winter;" "The Polloi" talked about the anesthetized, & "Genealogy" was for a friend in the monastery, imagining Heaven. Philomena Moriarty (not related to Mimi) read "On Being Irish," then one on her supposed Druid past, "The Priestess" & "Letting Go, How Is It Done?" Obeedúid (Mark O'Brien) read 3 poems about his mother from his chapbook, Neo-Lethean Dreams (Benevolent Bird Press, 2009).

Jim Williams read a mix of politics, rhyme & suicide, "Kill Yourself," "Letter to Hortense" from a rehab hospital, & "Tercet." Mike Burke read "Falling Leaves" from his chapbook, his "only nature poem" he said.

I've heard Will Nixon read many times, both before & after he published My Late Mother as a Ruffed Grouse (FootHills Publishing) & I enjoy his relaxed, well-planned performances. He included some poems not in the book, the childhood memories "Saying Cheese 1960" & "Citizenship," "Autumn Leaf," & "The Fire Tower" (on Outlook Mtn. in the Catskills, not in the Adirondacks). He read a selection from the book, including the funny "Dyslexic," "Priceless," & others, ending with the title poem -- a pleasant afternoon of nature & memory poems.

But if that wasn't enough a few of us went over after the reading to Smitty's legendary tavern for afternoon libations & food, & conversation carrying on the poetry in other forms.

Every 4th Sunday at the Old Songs Community Center, Voorheesville, NY, 3PM. A great line-up of poets coming this year.