February 27, 2010

The Fine Carnival of Hearts and Souls - Poetry Event, February 19

Another RM Engelhardt event, at the Marketplace Gallery at 40 Broadway, with an unannounced open mic, a missing feature & missing backup musician for one of the remaining 3 features (Rob himself), as well as a featured poet who hadn't written any new poems since the last time Rob featured him a couple years ago. The audience included the (remaining) featured poets, the guys who run the gallery (who read in the open mic), 2 lovely ladies who read in the open mic (& were perhaps stalking me), & me, to listen (since it was a "Listening Party" per the Facebook listing) -- oh, I forgot to mention the dog.

The Marketplace Gallery is fine space across from the Port of Albany with striking & edgy paintings & photos, worth the trip on First Friday, or any other time it is open.

Third Thursday Poetry Night, February 18

A packed house at the Social Justice Center with Daniel Nester's class from the College of St. Rose arriving early for a session with visiting poet Nate Pritts. Our Muse for the night was the recently deceased Lucille Clifton, another great poet gone. But for the open mic Alan Catlin started us off with "Karaoke Killers," a poem based on a recent newspaper article. Tad Richards drove up with Victoria Rivas, our featured poet, & read a poem based on a title that Robert Frost never got around to using, "The Story of the Cigar Box & a Counter-Revolutionary" (somebody had to). Rod Aldrich's poem "When the Snow Never Stopped" was not a prediction, I hope.

The first of the night's student-readers from Dan Nester's class was Chelsea Surprenant with a poem "Recognizable." W.D. Clarke's poem was "a true tale," "The Fisherman" out with his dad, & an unexpected find. Another student, Kristen Bidosky's "Past & Present" was about herself. Daniel Nester's poem was about dopplegangers, "Poem for the Evil Twin Episode of Night-Rider." Melissa Dominguez, another student, said her poem, "Experience," "sounds darker than it actually is supposed to be," perhaps a metaphor about writing about pain.

Tonight's featured poet, Victoria Rivas, read a program of poems about her teaching experiences, but began with a one about aging hippies, "I've been there…" She read from her manuscript Yo, Miss I Need a Pencil, poems about inner-city poor students, including a couple of pantoums with their repeating, over-lapping lines. Her poems were sad, funny, even angry at times & raise broad issues about poverty & the role of teachers in the education system. She touched on ignorance & lack of manners, teen pregnancy, & the innate creative sense children have in spite of the conditions they are raised in.

After the break I read my old poem "Sylvia Plath Slept Here" because she's still dead. The poet sometimes know as "Bird" (Alan Casline) read a retelling of an old native story, "The Adventures of the Great Hero Puloweh, or the Partridge in Algonquin Legends," from an old book. Sylvia Barnard's meditation on "Ash Wednesday" was only a day late. Jason Crane has a new book coming out from Foot Hills Publishing but "I Am Not an Indian" that he read tonight will not be in it. Bob Sharkey has been hibernating but was out tonight to read a poem ("Too Much Old Chat in Her") from a book he has been writing. This was Nan Thomas' first time reading here; her poem "Dance Lessons" was in 3, short sections. Terry Bat-Sonja said it was time for an erotic poem, "With Everything," & it was.

Another student poet, Melissa Gordon, read her "praise poem," her family & herself. Bless was back to perform his touching, funny & ironic poem about a homeless guy, "Man, Old Man." Ashley Martinez, another student, read "Imagination or Reflection" about then & now. The last of the students was Allie Fish with poem she wrote a few years ago about her younger brother who has autism, "Life with My Brother." Passion Poet is on her way to other parts of the country but stopped by to read her moving poem for her uncle James, "Viet Nam." Moses Kash III was back once again tonight to read "From Blood to Oatmeal" ending with Jesus Christ as the black Messiah. The poet Mojavi brought us on home reading a poem off his iPod, "Unraveling," like a tapestry.

Every third Thursday at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY, 7:30PM. More pictures from this event can be seen on my Flickr site.

February 24, 2010

Richard Boes Memorial Reading, February 13

Richard Boes was a novelist, playwright, actor, veteran of the Viet Nam War, who died last year from cancer. This reading was part of the monthly Woodstock Poetry Society & Festival hosted by Phillip Levine. I had read with Richard at the Colony Cafe (just down the street) & became friends with him during his last year while he was undergoing treatment at the Albany VA Hospital. I also arranged readings/book-signings for him from his novels, The Last Dead Soldier Left Alive (iUniverse 2007) & Last Train Out (iUniverse 2008). Richard's struggles infused his work but his talent turned those struggles into powerful prose, into art.

The afternoon included readings by poets who knew Richard, even some by those that didn't, readings from his works by his friends & remembrances by friends, fellow veterans & family, all ably linked by host Phillip Levine who had worked closely with Richard on his books & plays. Among the poets who read were Stephen Dodge, Paul Clemente, Dafna Rosenblum, Donald Lev, Michael Pacat, Dayl Wise (who had helped organize the event), Larry Winters (pictured at left) & Alison Koffler, Mickie Shorr & Philip Guareni. I was particularly moved by Larry Winters' poems "Nam Brother Waiting at the Station," & "I'm Here Because I've Been There".  Jay Wenk also read from his soon-to-be-published memoir of World War II.

Richard's voice was present in the readings by   from the opening section to Last Train Out, & Dayl Wise & I both read sections from The Last Dead Soldier Left Alive.

Richard's nephew Brett Boes (pictured at left) read his poem, published in the Chronogram, on Richard's death, "The Fallen Soldier," then the recent poem "Love Never Leaves." Other remembrances of Richard's life were shared (in addition to many of those already cited) by filmmaker Jim Jarmusch (who knew Richard from film school), Fern Neeson, Branda Miller (another friend from film school), Jane Seiba & Tom Jarmusch (Jim's younger brother who shared a wonderful story of being at CBGB's in New York City with Richard & then credited Richard with saving his life by helping him to get treatment for his substance abuse problems -- in fact I was so entranced by his story that I forgot to take his picture).

It was a lesson on how a person, just by being himself, & despite issues & struggles that destroy others, can touch so many lives, & how being an artist can mean being part of a community that comes together to help those that need it.

In addition to the photos posted here, I am posting more photos on my flickr site.

February 20, 2010

Sylvia Plath Bake-Off

For a number of years, a few years back, Cheryl A. Rice, held a combination poetry reading & baking contest in February around the anniversary of the death of Sylvia Plath (Feb. 11, 1963). Cakes shaped like an oven door were de rigueur & one poet event showed up with his/her head in a cardboard box done up like an oven. And I would always read my poem, "Sylvia Plath Slept Here." A combination of reverence, irreverence & fun. At one point Pillsbury sent Cheryl a threatening letter saying they owned the term "bake-off." Most of us counseled that she should ignore the letter, you can't pay for publicity like that. She did but ended the annual event later for the usual reasons such things fade away: lack of time, energy, venue, etc.

This year I attended a private party at the home of Jacqueline Ahl with this same title, a handful of people in the little house way out in the country. There were cookies decorated like Sylvia or Ted Hughes, sometimes scribed with a line from her poems. Jacqueline has a small collection of some rare Plath ephemera. She read Plath's "The Applicant" & Tad Richard's "Sylvia & Dean," as well as Tad's hilarious "Nicaraqua, Whales and Body Parts." Christopher Wheeling also read a few of his poems & I read once again "Sylvia Plath Slept Here."

Cheryl told me later she was OK with someone else using "Sylvia Plath Bake-Off," but then she doesn't have the legal staff at her disposal that Pillsbury & Co. has. Read a poem, eat a cookie.

February 17, 2010

Wize Words (at Ballingers), February 11

Like the old TV show, this spoken word series has been "movin' on up" from the cellar bar to the main floor of Ballingers, & this night the place was packed. I got the last available table (because it was small, there was only 1 chair at it & it was right in front of a prodigious speaker) -- lucky me for a great night.

Now, as always, I am open to corrections on spelling of names, or correction of other details, since I'm just listening & have no written program to depend upon. Our host was the big, warm, gentle Bless who worked with the sign-up sheet in his head, for the great variety of poets & performers. The featured performers were the vocal group the fault line.

But first & around them came the poets, some with notebooks, some with scraps of paper & some with just what was written in their memories. Bless began with a piece about what he smelled on a woman one day. Then after Unique did his piece about an old love, I stayed on the theme with "I Want to Read My Love Poems to You…" Kaysan did "Take Another Sip" to reconnect with his feelings. Lots of energy in these poets, & in-between Bless keeps it going. Another virgin (Mr. Jay?) came to the stage about the missing Dads in the neighborhood.

The fault line did 2 sets while I was there & these 5 guys got more sounds out of their microphones with just vocals than some bands I've heard. They laid down bass lines & drum patterns & guitar solos all with their mouths & mics. And they were all over the stage & in the audience. I had to buy the CD.  Bless even used 2 of the guys to back him up on one of his pieces.

Another new poet to the mic, Miss Rain, did a "man-bashin' poem" for the ladies. Bless did one of his signature pieces on "Why Do I Do What I Do" (ending "so why do you spit?") to set it up for Passion to come up to explain why she spits ("because without spit there is no fuckin' poetry"). Sadly, this strong voice is moving on to somewhere else. Nickey Black is a regular at Wize Words & you've got to be ready for him, like his rhyme tonight on a stroll through the hard streets of the ghetto ("I Am the Place").

On a different note, & a very differen kind of high-energy, Miss Naughty Poetry, ended each of her 3 porno poems with a kitten purr & trill & you needed a cigarette after each, the audience in a writhing heap of laughter (& arousal?), I mean her last poem was titled "Suckin' Dick 101." Oh yes.

The Storm is on the schedule of the Third Thursday Poetry Night at the SJC for March 18. Her poem tonight was a rap on a relationship gone bad, with a mean punch-line. Shay's ("Shabina aka Shay") poems on love were a bit more focused, more philosophical, less naughty, but still in your face with "Availability is a Bitch" as the middle poem.

Now I was having a real good time but these old bones can only take so much so I left after the fault line's second set & after Bless delivered a to-the-point rant about where else in this city, state, nation or world can you have such a good time for just $5 -- "fiv' dollas" -- as you can right here at Wize Words. He's right (in fact, as they say here, "that's alright"), so get there next 2nd Thursday & find out for yourself -- Ballinger's on Howard St in Albany, about 8PM.

February 15, 2010

Live from the Living Room, February 10

With Don Levy our host at the Capital District Gay & Lesbian Community Center.

The featured poet was Margot Malia Lynch, poet & roller derby queen ("Mathundra Storm" with the Hellions of Troy). Her poems are first-thought-best-thought stream of consciousness personal manifestos like in "Original Sparks" where she declaims "I am my own shaman." I watched her turn & flip the piece of paper that she had written the poem "Polish Me" on, where she compares herself to a pearl, an original poem scrap. Then on to the ambulatory "Love Walk", & writing poems in "The Electric Moment" with its reference to the Olympic games, then ended with a revenge rant, riffing off her name. She enjoyed the informal setting, the circle of poets & we enjoyed her poems.

I read in the open mic, wearing it, "My Scarf" (a poem is the best revenge), then from my new chapbook from Benevolent Birds Press boundless abodes of Albany "Decoupage Me", then the new poem "The Visit." AC Everson read from her chapbook Love AC Style, "Sweet Dreams;" I love her Valentine standard,"Cupid is a Bastard" even without the piñata; then another piñata piece, "Music Lover."

Jason Crane announced that he has a manuscript accepted by Foothills Publishing & read "Maple Leaf" on his old home, then (another) poem on knitting, "It Isn't the Fashioning", & "At Mr. Frost's in Vermont" (what Don called "a good Robert Frost poem"). Don finished it off for the night with 2 poems, the hilarious "Underwear Boi Wonder," then one inspired by my Blog (so he said) "Hey This is My Street Corner You Poetry Skank!" dedicated to RM Engelhardt.

Half Moon Books Poetry Reading, February 6

On North Front Street in Kingston, NY, with our host Rebecca Schumejda.

Cheryl A. Rice read in celebration of her 30 years in the area, with memories of her youth on Long Island (2 sections from a long poem, "Cantata for Clams, Pines, Expressways"), then into poems about her life in the Hudson Valley.  She read tender musings on relationships, on food ("Italian Food Day"), on a gone Kingston classic fern bar & her ex-husband, even "Italian Food Day" in the city of Newburgh (also "Exit 17"), even on Sylvia Plath in "No Songs No Packages."

In contrast to Cheryl's multi-page remises, Howie Good's were poems short, grim, single-pagers.  He is a journalism professor at SUNY New Paltz & author of many poetry chapbooks.  He started with "A Note on Craft" reading poetry in bed.  He included some inter-related prose poems from a series called "Pigs/Iron," dream-like narratives.  His poems frequently included sardonic humor, such as "RSVP", a list a dark excuses one can use, or the haiku like "Four Seasons".  There was a tender memorial for one of his students, "Songs without Words."  Some of his titles were like poems themselves, such as "Heart with a Dirty Windshield."

I had read once in this very same bookshop in its other incarnation with Pauline Uchmanowicz, who is also a professor at SUNY New Paltz.  But first her partner, Jim read a poem he had written in Chinese.  Her poems were tight, crafted works I can imagine her writing with a Thesaurus in one hand, so much so that she had to frequently define unusual words in the poems.  "Quarry Hill Road" described a rural setting with archaic words that also seemed out of place in a poem on a  beach in Massachusetts.  "Mechanical Drawing" drew us back to high school with word play on the terms of the trade, as did the poem "Quaternary."

Like a well made salad or casserole, the variety of tonight's poets & poems bounced different, contrasting & complementing flavors & textures off each other to leave me with a feeling of time well-spent.  Look for more fine readings at this venue.

February 11, 2010

Rob Couteau at the Van Buren Gallery, February 6

It would take me an entire Blog just to tell you about my connection to poet, painter, short-story writer Rob Couteau, but suffice it say his father was my boss' boss when I worked for the State of New York in the World Trade Center in the 1970s, & I later connected to him when Joe Krausman attempted to prove to me that Jung's theory of Synchronicity was a crock of a lot of hooey. Joe called me a few days ago & said Rob was having a reading at a gallery that was showing his paintings in New Paltz.

I arrived at the Van Buren Gallery, in a stripmall on Main St., just as the reading was beginning. But it wasn't Rob but his attractive girlfriend, Amanda Levin, who was reading Rob's poems as he videographed the reading. The gallery was filled, like Gertrude Stein's living room, with paintings elbow to elbow & head to toe, all Couteau's versions & variations of Picasso paintings from his project "A Year of Picasso."

Amanda read from Rob's forthcoming book of poems The Sleeping Mermaid, a mix of Picasso-related poems & other, more personal, works. The Picasso poems were descriptions of the master's paintings, many were in the room in the form of Rob's versions, such as "Portrait of Maria Therese," "Cat & Bird" & "Weeping Woman." "A Promenade with Walt Whitman" & "The 29th Bather" were homages to the great American poet.

Some of the more personal poems recalled his childhood in Brooklyn, such as "The Country Boys" & "As a Boy in Coney Island" & the wonderful poem about walking with his father in the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, "Philosophy." "In the White Room" recalled his days in Paris & I found the strangely titled "Homeland" to be a love poem.

It was an unusual reading to have the poet in the room like any other member of the audience while
someone else read his poems, but it made for an enjoyable afternoon of poetry & art. Look for The Sleeping Mermaid when it comes out later this year.

February 9, 2010

Caffe Len Open Mic, February 3

The scheduled featured reader for tonight had to cancel & a last minute call from Carol Graser recruited Don Levy, then Don recruited me to be his driver (not that I wouldn've gone anyway, but now at least I had pleasant conversation on our ride). Our host, Carol Graser, began with a poem by Nicole Brossard, then on into the open mic.

Sue Jefts was first up with 2 new seasonal poems, "A Prayer for January," & "Refrain" with geese flying over. Josh McIntyre's 2, characteristically short, poems were "In Tune" & the tender love of "Fasting." Alan Casline read another of his series of poems based on the I Ching, this one titled "Echoes Going By" based on Hexagram #12. Victoria (a virgin 1st time reader) started with an tiny untitled piece, then "Anne's Lace" on the flower. Another new poet (pictured at left) was Anastasia with an untitled poem of memories of past summers, of hands, of coffee in Berlin.

The "understudy," Don Levy, took the stage as the featured poet & began with a new poem based on 42nd St., "Broadway Baby." "Captain Ralph" was a memory of childhood TV shows, followed by pondering "finding God" in "The Theology Dept. Lost & Found." At the Washington Ave. YMCA, Don was working-out with the Mayor ("Sweating with the Oldie"), then was in shape to be an "Underwear Boi Wonder." He thought about the days at the QE2 in the "Old Tee-Shirt," bashed the State of Maine for repealing the law permitting gay marriage in "On Golden Douche Bag" & the random use of the word "gay" in "My Gay Toaster Won't Let Go of My Eggo." He ended with the short poem on "The Fine Art of Conversation."

After the break George Fisher read a couple new poems about Albany, one at the Corning Preserve, "Hills" & a bleak poem on a community garden in evening. Margaret Bryant's poem took place in a nursing home, "The View of the Choir" (she is pictured at right). Barbara Garro summarized the life of Robert Frost in "Living a Poet's Life." Another comic interlude (after Don's reading) was Austin Halpern-Graser with a stand-up routine on his phobias & on potatoes. W.D. Clarke's poems were inspired by the 2nd California gold rush in the 1970s, "California Gold Fields" & "The Ballad of Robert Brill." Nancy DeNofio's "Dancing in the Sunlight" were memories of sea & sand by an old woman in a rocker.

Jill Wickham brought us to Spring & mud with "A Stranger Walks Up to a Mother Playing in the Park" ≈ the shopping story "Because My Husband Refused to Admit to the Gravity of Having My Daughter Roam Free in the Bookstore." Carolee Sherwood's 2 poems were inspired by her home State (see Don's poems), "Slip-Knot" & a poem about the humpback whale. I wore & read "My Scarf" then a poem referencing the Adelphi Hotel, "This Dream is Not About You."

Jessica Barrett read her prose narrative from a community newpaper about an iPod, punning on i-life. Ellen Finn's poem "One of those Days is Every Other Day" was about locking her keys in the car yesterday. Sally Rhoades was the night's last reader & read a poem about the Summer, then "Blue Grey on the River Today" about riding on the train.

Saratoga Springs' classic open mic every first Wednesday at Caffe Lena on Phila St., 7:30. And check other events during Caffe Lena's 50th celebration online http://www.caffelena.org/.

February 5, 2010

Albany Poets Presents!, February 2

This is a "no-gimmick open mic" at Valentines (sometimes a "no-open-mic gimmick") presented by AlbanyPoets.com. There were a few of us poets with poems in our holsters & even a couple of poets at the bar who came to listen sans poems to read (are we that good?).

Thom Francis has the list in his head under a baseball cap with a "B" on it (for "Boss"?). I went first with a new, short line piece on the "ex-" titled "The Visit," then a "dream" poem & "Summer in California," which I like to read in bars. RM Engelhardt stepped up next with a poem he called "The Whores of Poetry," a litany/list bashing the poets who show up at open mics (note: not a good idea, this is your audience), then he read "Suture" (see my last Blog).

Dain Brammage showed up looking bit like the Unabomber but in a pleasant mood & read the first slam-style poem he ever wrote, "The Message Board Troll" in Dr. Seuss sounding rhythms & rhymes, then a piece about meeting a woman "At the Jazz Club."

Other interesting poets, mostly female, at the bar just shouted encouragement to us guys & made us feel, well, manly, I guess.

This happens -- or not -- on the first Tuesday of each month in the rock club known as Valentines on New Scotland Ave. in Albany, about 8PM -- look for the scruffy characters at the far end of the bar.

VoX, January 29

The second event of this double-header night was up Lark St. & on to Central Ave. at the Fuze Box for the monthly open mic hosted by RM Engelhardt (& celebrating its first anniversay), who started off with his poem "When" looking for a perfect world. Unfortunately, throughout the night we were plagued by a bass-heavy sound system & loud music playing from the bar. Some of us dealt with the mic by not using it & speaking loud, but the music from the bar played on.

I read 2 "Summertime-California" poems, the recently published "My Sather Gate Illumination," & the 1969 remembrance, "Summer in California." Carolee Sherwood wrote a new piece today, untitled, a fantasy of a tailor & pearls, then an alphabet poem, "Eaten Alive, a History of Affection." Jill Wickham's first poem was about a Valentine's Day visit to the cemetary, "The Husband Recalls a Recent Holiday The Feast that Almost Follows;" about her second poem ("The Doll House") she said, "I think this is about a Barbie doll, I'm not sure."

The night's featured poet was Rebecca Schumejda, from Kingston, NY. She gave us a sampling from works-in-progress & from her published chapbooks. First from a new series on the Bill of Rights, "Amending the Heart": family poems, fixing Xmas toys, titles like "Unreasonable Searches" (asking questions), & "Warrant" (summer sex). Then some Winter poems from a new manuscript about a pool-hall, about characters who hung out there, alcohol & gambling, but love as well, tight narratives I've heard before & look forward to having on my table. She read "The Evidence" from her new chapbook, The Map of the Garden (verve bath press, 2009) & finished with "Four Months from Now" Falling Forward (sunnyoutside, 2008). I'm a fan.

RM Engelhardt continued on with ruminations & instructions on what poetry does in "Suture." Shannon Shoemaker recited the melancholy, grey "Valentines Day," having left home without her printed poems. Mary Panza jumped right into with "Roofing & the Art of the KIss." The group known as Murrow (Thom Francis & Keith Spencer) finished off the night with a couple poems with guitar obbligato, including the grim disaster piece "Aftermath".

Vox is each last Friday of the month at the Fuze Box on Central Ave., 8PM. It can get raucous.

February 4, 2010

Strose Poetry & Prose, January 29

This is the first of a three-readings series featuring student writers from the College of Saint Rose, held at the UAG Gallery on Lark St. in Albany, NY. The readers were Scott Wheatley, a graduate student in the English Department, and Michelle Cabral, an undergraduate in the English Department, reading from non-fiction writing projects. Also featured was special guest Daniel Nester, whose recently released How to Be Inappropriate has been praised as a "deeply funny new collection of booger-flecked non-fiction" (Time Out New York). They were introduced by Kira Brady.

Michelle Cabral read 2 related pieces from her Senior project, the first titled "So Over the Rainbow: the Duff Fragments" which described, defined & complained about being a "Duff" in school but was really about coming out as a lesbian, mixing humor & school angst, the eternal quest of finding out who you are. The second, untitled, piece was also a memoir about coming out, on the phone with her parents. Both pieces sensitively done, with gentle humor, looking back from a better place.

Scott Wheatley read from what he described as a continuation of his senior project at St. Rose, a memoir moving from childhood & a Winter outdoor birthday party at age 10, through Christmas, model building, up to college drinking, but the common thread was Eagles football. Much of the humor was sports dependent & his major effect was to be cleverly outrageous.

The "special guest," Daniel Nester, read a section from a longer piece, "Cousin Mike," about when he was 17 & his father left his mother. It was a touching & moving description of a late 20th Century family life.

This group is to be applauded for bringing these writers down from Academe & opening up their work to share with the community.

February 1, 2010

Poets Speak Loud!, January 25

& the annual Tom Nattell Tribute Open Mic & Beret Toss, at the Lark Tavern. Back in January 2005 when this series began, Tom was to be the first featured poet. But he was dying of cancer & stepped away from us that morning. So the open mic that night became a tribute/celebration/wake, & we've continued it each year since. Tom was a force behind the beginning of Albany's busy poetry scene & his presence is felt wherever the poets gather. The last Monday was chosen as the day for this reading because that was the day that Tom did the open mic at the QE2 in Albany for 11 years in the 1990s. And I am honored to be the host each year in January at the Lark Tavern & celebrate in a way Tom would approve. Tonight was the 5th anniversary of this monthly open mic. "Star dust is us," Tom said.

Throughout the night I interjected some of Tom's poems, post cards & 3 Guys from Albany recordings in between the other poems so he could be at this event, as indeed he is. So I started the night with the short elegy, "Theology 101."

Sylvia Barnard has recovered from her jet-lag & read a poem about her visit to Istanbul, then "Learning to Read," a sequel to last month's birthday poem. Then Tom with a couple of his memorized hip-hop poems, both untitled, one about Hunter S. Thompson. Julie Lomoe's poem "Golden Years (a dialogue with my inner critic)" was written this morning & is on her Blog.

Jason Crane's "Long Haul" mused on the hard times driving big trucks, & his "Robbie Burns Hat" was an account of his attendance here at last year's beret toss. Ed Rinaldi also had a poem he wrote today, "Riding with the Great Mother & Kerouac into the Mountains," & another from a stint working overnight, "I Just Bought the Balloons." The first of tonight's "virgins" was Tim Ervin with "Saturn's Supper" referencing the classic myth, then "Maya's Revenge" that referred to a Goya painting.

I read my elegy, "Chasing Tom," which has just been accepted by the Paterson Review. Our second virgin, Brenda Rusch, kept it literary with "Mini Loy Jotting Down Notes in Philosophy 110" then a tribute to e.e. cummings. She was followed by Murrow (Thom Francis & Keith Spencer) with 2 favorites, "she's an angel..." & the "new day/turn the page" poem. RM Engelhardt read the poem he wrote in 2005 when Tom died, then "Think Beautiful" & "Suture" (love, words, fucking).

Carolee Sherwood swept us away with "Hologram" on a hurricane & a rogue wave, & read an untitled piece from her notebook that ripped the heart out -- watch for her as a future feature. Jill Wickham confessed she has 8 (!) cats & proceeded to "After Hearing a Concert & Rescuing a Stray Cat the Bickering Couple Concede What They Have Done" (definitely the longest title of the night), then a 2-part his/her anti-valentine/anti-love poem (if it had a title, I missed it).

The poet who signed up as Avery has been back for the last few months with his ironic/sardonic/hiponic (I just made that up) poems; tonight, the portrait of the girl bending over, "What Were You Looking For Anyway," then a sexy blueberry surprise. Shannon Shoemaker got us hot with her sex=love poems, the brand new "I Woke Up" (after sex & she's gone), & the love-addict's lament "Brought Low."

Cheryl A. Rice's poem "Exit 17" could've come from the AAA magazine with it's precise descriptions of the sights along the road to Scranton, but of course there is more to it than that. A.C. Everson's poem "New Year's Blues" was wishes & dreams on 2009's blue Moon. Sally Rhoades brought us back with "Tom Nattell." Now, I often make mistakes, as many readers of this Blog have noticed & tonight was no different, but this mistake could've been fatal (as a regular patron of Tess' Lark Tavern): I mistook Alex Albino's elaborate signature on the sign-up sheet for a cross-out. Good thing Mary Panza corrected me, otherwise we would've missed her 2 poems, "Pestering" where love/desire is like a pimple, & a poem for the year of change, "Declaration of Independence, 2010."

Sometime during the night Thom Francis passed the hat & the Albany poets came up with a generous donation to the Homeless Action Committee -- Thanks, folks! -- & a birthday cake, complete with candles was brought out -- a day early -- & I proved I still had the breath to blow (the candles out). & my best present was a surprise visit from my favorite waitress, Nicole, (who had the night off) & 2 deep hugs -- I'm still feeling them.

Then, on a wonderfully warm night for January, the motley poets meandered to the Robert Burns statue for our annual ritual in memory of Tom Nattell: a candle, a bouquet & the "toss" of the green beret to the head of Robert Burns, where it magically stuck! The picture shows it as it was the next day.

Join us us each last Monday at Tess' Lark Tavern, Madison Ave., Albany, 7:30 PM where Poets Speak Loud!

Sunday Four Poetry, January 24

Up in the hills at the Old Songs Community Center in Voorheesville, NY, a monthly (& motley) gathering of poets, with today's feature being Obeeduid (Mark O'Brien). Mike Burke introduced the event, Dennis Sullivan introduced the poets, & I ended up first on the list. I read "Song of the Tallest Towers," recently published in the Chiron Review, then wore & read "My Scarf."

Jim Williams took a moment to set up his guitar & accompanied himself on a poem in tercets on the story of Oedipus. Larry Rapant's "Developing" was short & to the point, then "Western Ave." described an encounter with the Pink brand-name, & ended with the marvelous list of apologies, "Day of Atonement." Tim Verhaegen was back after not being around & read a group of poems that seemed to linked by a theme of personal assertion, "He," then an untitled piece about coming out, & the last about a once "invisible" man in his office finding himself.

Dennis Sullivan began with a poem in the Irish tradition of "tracing" (talking about ancestors, connections), then one about waking early & watching the clock ("Stripped But Not Bereft"), then a poem that looked back "before" in response to a Catalan writer. Joe Krausman's poem "The Bard at the Concord Hotel" was about hearing the trumpeter Erskine Hawkins playing his signature hit, "Tuxedo Junction," then another poem about a gambler told from the wife's point of view. Alan Casline introduced his poem "Lessons" as a love poem to his wife, but it talked about grief as well; then on to Hexagram #60 of the I Ching, "Enthusiasm on a Cold Morning Walk," then "Dan Driscoll's Watershed Dream."

Tom Corrado's poem "Mis-Matched.com" took us from link to link, so to speak. Sue Cerniglia comes to lots of poetry events (& lots of other stuff as well), but rarely reads; today she read 2 short poems, "Sunshower" (at a favorite place), & the thoughtful "The Certainty of Things Not Done" -- go to see her stepping to the mic.

The day's featured poet, Mark O'Brien, otherwise known as Obeedúid, was introduced by Edie Abrams, with a funny story of forgetting her own name because it wasn't in the written script. Mark's reading was a multi-media event with a repeating series of projected images of what looked like impressionistic landscape paintings but I later found out they started out as photos that he manipulated, bent, played with to get the effect of paintings. He also included a short video montage of words & images on memory. Most of his poems dealt with his family, or family memories ("Looking for the Table to Keep the Memory of It Living"), such as his grandmother "After Gathering in Sheets," or remembering his father's face, then another poem as he looks at his own aging face. He even included a "political" poem, "Home." A nice varied bouquet of pleasant poems.

Then on to Smitty's to gather at the "Poet's Corner" for food, drink & more words as we talked & talked & talked -- Sunday afternoon up in the hills with the poets. Each 4th Sunday of the month at 3PM at the Old Songs Community Center on Main St. in Voorheesville (across from Stewart's), open mic & a featured poet.