March 30, 2010

Third Thursday Poetry Night, March 18

A small crowd tonight at the Social Justice Center (where was that tour bus?), but the "hard-core" was there & got to read 2 poems for a change, & to enjoy The Storm -- not the weather which was pretty nice, but tonight's featured poet. & in honor of the Split this Rock Poetry Festival I invoked the Muse of Langston Hughes, reading his poems "Goodbye Christ" & "Big Buddy".

Alan Catlin claimed the #1 spot again with a poem about a Zombie gathering at the bar, "The Circle of Death," then what he called "an imaginary Lark St. poem." Rod Aldrich's only poem was about poetry or rather losing his poems, "I Leak Poetry." Sylvia Barnard brought a painting she had done & written a poem about, "Painting Flowers;" then she dug up another short poem from her bag, about being in Cyprus when the border was opened.

Don Levy's new poem was on the closing of the local YMCA, "Sweating with the Oldie" working out with the mayor, & his old poem, "Je Adore You, Je Can't Get Enough," was from his chapbook of gay fantasy poems How Small Was My Big Eden. Bless recited from memory his poem beginning "I am on the outside of Life looking in…" on how "the pen & the pad are my only true friend."

Moses Kash III read poems that were typed up because, he said, he can "hardly read" his own writing; his first poem "Black Babies" is a favorite despite its grim vision, while his second poem, "Hera's Children," is more hopeful, about "tolerating the madness" to survive. I ended the open mic with my recent piece, "Split this Rock Dream Poem" (posted earlier on this Blog).

Our featured poet, The Storm, began with poems on personal relationships, some based on friends: "I'm Sorry" was a monologue by a beaten woman from beyond the grave, piling up rhymes in "Slaves of the DSS" & looking back to the early, better days of a relationship in "Do You Still Love Me?" Another poem was a meditation on racial put-downs, about changing one "cotton field" for another. Other poems were more about the interior life, what makes a woman a "queen" in "Inspiration," then playing with rhymes in "Image" (of ourselves); & Death follows "A Woman in her Prime." She ended with a poem beginning with trying to unwind at the end of the day, confusion in her mind, then finding solace as she revels in the many roles she plays in her family & her life.

But that was not the end because Mojavi arrived late & I asked him to take us out with something, a poem he pulled up (oh the wonders of technology) on his blackberry, "Life & Times of Pep Roundtree," another image of hope in struggle.

Every third Thursday, 7:30 PM, here at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY, an open mic with a featured reader -- come & find out who shows up.

March 24, 2010

Split this Rock Festival, the Last Night (Part 2), March 13

After Sarah Browning's obligatory litany of thank-yous -- it takes a poetic army of volunteers, staff, sponsors, &, of course, participants to make such a successful festival -- & I for one am so pleased & happy to have been here -- on with the finale of the poetry.

Each year, even when the festival is not happening, Split this Rock has run a poetry contest. This year it was judged by Chris Abani, who read the First Place poem, "Prague TV" by Simki Ghebremichael. Second Place was won by Marie-Elizabeth Mali, who was here, to read "Oceanside, CA." I was a little disappointed that the Third Place winner, Sonja de Vries (who had joined me for dinner) did not get to read her fine poem, "A Response to 'What's Your Sexual Orientation,'" but all the winner's poems can be found on the Split this Rock website.

Toni Asante Lightfoot had joined me on Thursday in my workshop, sharing her vast experience organizing poetry readings in Washington, DC, & now in Chicago. She began by pointing out, as she does to her young students, that Power = work over time. She read poems from a series she is writing on about Jackie "Moms" Mabley, the funny, outrageous, (x-rated) comedienne, reflecting the poet's own transformation & her time (including the taking of a new name, as the poet herself).

Martha Collins had been a part of a panel on documentary poetry. She read, again, from her book Blue Front, about her father growing up in Cairo, Ohio & of the lynching there, stringing the poems together. She continued with excerpts from her new work, White Papers, which continues beyond the story of her father with the deeper question of what the lynchings had to do with her, a white woman, exploring racism.

Sinan Antoon writes in Arabic & English, & has also translated Mahmoud Darwish. His mostly short poems included watching soldeirs at El Paso airport, or a homeless veteran outside his office ("A Sign"), or about the street of bookshops in Baghdad that was bombed by the US. One poem ("Phosphorus") contrasted his bike when a kid & the after-effects of the use of white phosphorus in the attack on Fallujah, while "To an Iraqi Infant" could have been written for an infant in Haiti, or Gaza or wherever there is war whose victims are always children. All was not death & destruction, as he included some short, erotic poems.

Chris Abani, the last poet of the festival, began with a joke told to him by the late Dennis Brutus who had read at the first Split this Rock festival, & anecdotes about Darwish, & read one of his poems. He began with what he said was his one love poem, "1971." He read a long series of poems filled with Christian religious images, & meditations on race, & Los Angeles. His reading a quiet end to the festival, like breath going out.

I left with my head was reeling & it was late I couldn't drag myself to the grand party at the end. I needed to be quiet & alone with my notes, my photos, my memories, & my gratitude for being here among so many great poets. Thank you, Split this Rock. I await the next gathering in 2012, deo volente.

March 23, 2010

Split this Rock Festival, the Last Night (Part 1), March 13

The final evening of this fabulous festival was 2 readings at Bell High School & like the festival as a whole, it was diverse, sometimes pensive, sometimes raucous.  And speaking of raucous, Regie Cabico was the host for the first part of the evening, becoming breathless over the poetry (& from skipping rope on stage).

  Allison Hedge Coke was the first poet up, with a chant, invocation to America, & celebrating herself singing back. A long poem, "The Change," told of working in the tobacco fields, & the takeover of the farms by agra-business & automated machines, a love-lost poem. She read without introducing the poems, letting the stories from rural & working America speak for themselves, direct & rich.

The poems of Richard McCann were personal in another way, with memoirs of growing up in DC. "Crepe de Chine" was about being his mother's companion/her "best friend". He also read sections from an older, long poem "Nights of 1990," the title an homage to Cavafy, a friend dying of AIDS -- quiet, discursive, pensive poems.

Lenelle Moïse comes up out of the Slam scene, but her style is all her own. She began with "Mud Mothers," pondering Haiti, it's "proud, resilient people," & also did an "Ode to Michael Jackson" because Haitian people love Michael Jackson, she said. Her poem about AIDS was a childhood memory of a queer uncle. Her poems were sometime breathless chants, invocations, rants, sometimes engaging the audience with a call & response, & sometimes pooignant memoirs. And I love the line, "Death is the end of percussion," from her final poem on the heart.

I have read Fady Joudah's translations of Mahmoud Darwish, but had not read or heard any of his own poems. He began by announcing that today is Darwish's birthday & read a few pages from a long poem in tribute. Many of his poems were short, meditative descriptions, such as his first poem about a friend in a hospice, often with minimal (or no) introductions. But politics & history were frequent undertones, as in "Still Life" or "A Line for Water" set in the Middle East, or the more obvious "The Security Level is Yellow" that also brought in Facebook & Jackson Pollack. Still another poet of the festival that I want to read more of.

Time for a break so I led my new poet-friend over to Haydee's (again) & was pleased that she liked it too -- good food, relaxed atmosphere, excellent (& fast) service. Then back for more poetry -- stay tuned.

March 16, 2010

Split this Rock, Friday, March 12, the Readings

There were 2 readings this evening, both in the auditorium of Bell Multicultural High School. Sarah Browning, the first half MC, said how she had originally invited Bruce Wiegel to be a part of tonight’s reading, but that he was ill. Then she & each of the featured poets read a poem by Bruce Wiegel to put his presence in the house.

Arthur Sze began with a poem from his earlier book, Quipu, then read from his latest collection of poems, The Ginko Light (2009, Copper Canyon Press). He reads quietly, some poems set in China, an extended piece “Chrysalis,” a meditation in precise, poetic descriptions, as well as the title poem of the new book, another extended piece in multiple sections.

Patricia Smith, who seems to be at all the best poetry festivals, was there when Slam was invented, when Slam was good poems read well with expression, passionate, but not theatrical. She began with one of those email letters from Nigeria & her response, filled with humor & compassion. A poem about attempting to put her arms around her son after he spent 2 years in jail was a mother’s tender memory of a boy growing up, of a mother’s pain, while her memories of her own mother were the basis of “An All-Purpose Product” (Lysol). She even got “nostalgic” for the former president in “The President Flies Over.”

Martin Espada, who also had read at the first Split-this-Rock festival, read from both the selected poems & from The Republic of Poetry. He read about Puerto Rico & his hometown, Brooklyn, & the death of Neruda, about being at the tomb of Frederick Douglas, his voice rich & deep. “A Playboy Calendar & the Rubiyat of Omar Khayam” is a new poem about becoming a poet, & he paid tribute to his activist father (& other unnamed activists) in “Sleeping on the Bus“. He, & his poems, are an excellent example of the Festival’s subtitle, “poems of provocation & witness.”

After a break for dinner at my favorite neighborhood restaurant, Haydee’s, I was back at Bell for an exciting (even titillating) & varied reading by 4 poets, “expanding the territory of poetry,” hosted by Abdul Ali.

Natalie E. Illum is a young Slam poet (currently 25th in the Slam world, she told us) who was best when not performing in an over-enunciated slam style, even when struggling to read a poem from pages flying off the music stand. Her poems deal with issues of gender identity, ability & politics. She began with a moving family memoir/alternate reality, “Adaptation.” An older piece, “Protest Moon,” includes the story of her brother in an anti-war protest; moving, tender, & touching even when dark.

Jeffrey McDaniel is a product of the Washington, DC slams & of college poetry theater. His work sits on the line of slam poet/stand-up comic, with elaborate metaphors leaning on humor for their effect, sort of like Tristan Tzara meets Jerry Seinfeld. The poems were like the riffs that rise up at late at parties, variations on what God is, a college love poem in war-time lingo, making “The Grudge” a plant you can water; his surrealist over-cooked images worked best on an eerie short poem about being in NYC on September 11, 2001.

Jan Beatty took us on a sex tour of Canada & seedy towns in America. Her work is grounded in working class culture, as a waitress (“Instructions on Tipping”), a social worker in a prison, sometimes grim, sometimes humorous with hard-edged irony. “I Saw One of Blake’s Angels” was set in a peep-show. Others were memories of her adopted family in Pittsburgh, her steel-mill father, the personal (i.e., sexual) as politics in the righteous anger of “The Shooter.”

I first met Quincy Troupe almost 20 years ago when he came to perform here in Albany & his poem to Magic Johnson is a staple in the poetry workshops I’ve done in local schools. Tonight he read 2 poems, the first from 1998, a long lush description of waking in the morning at his friend Peter Schwartz’s house in Spain, watching his wife sleeping; the other, “Switching in the Kitchen,” for the sculptor & installation artist, Mildred Howard, filled with jazz references (from his book The Architecture of Language), both poems ecstatic incantations in be-bop rhythms, the kind of recitation to which slam poets aspire.

A nice mix of the younger & older poets, bouncing off each other – the beat goes on.

March 15, 2010

Split this Rock, Friday, March 12, Workshops

I really could have just stayed in bed, no one is taking attendance, but the workshop selections are so good, if I could be 2, or 3 people at once, I would be. As they used to say at the school dances, one has got to make a choice. So the first of the day’s workshop was one on teaching creative writing to war veterans, at the Thurgood Marshall Center. The panel members all were involved in running writing workshops for veterans, one was a Viet Nam vet (George Kovach), the others young women (Lovella Calica, Laren McClung) & the moderator, Cathy Che. As at any of these workshops, the involvement of the audience is as important as the “expertise” of the panel members. There was a wide range of ages from 20-somethings up to the grizzled-grey like me, & included therapists & folks involved in all kinds of community literary (& therapeutic) programs. I picked up an interesting journal called Consequence Magazine  & heard about projects like Warrior Writers  & the “combat papers” project.

From there on to Busboy & Poets Langston Room for the panel discussion on Documentary Poetry with Martha Collins, Mark Nowak & Philip Metres. Martha Collins explores racism from the perspective of a white woman in a book of poems about lynching in Ohioi, & a work in progress “White Papers.” Philip Metres read poems using the photos from Abu Gharib; in the discussion raised the issue of “appropriation” of other’s lives/material versus the necessity to get the word out. Mark Nowak had trouble with the technology & couldn’t show his slides, but continued on with poems about the Chinese miners. It was interesting that a couple of the panelists referenced Muriel Rukeyser’s Book of the Dead. Also a pointed quote from the essay, “My Adventures as a Social Poet,” by Langston Hughes that I now must read.

After a wonderful lunch across the street in Eatonville (tender, juicy barbecued baby back ribs), back to the Thurgood Marshall Center for a discussion of contemporary Chinese poetry by scholar/poet Arthur Sze & Beloit Poetry Journal editor, John Rosenwald. The handout included poems from Bei Dao, Xiao Kaiyu, Gu Cheng, Duo Duo, & Shu Ting. The most recent poem was from 1995, while the rest were from the 1970s. Arthur Sze has edited a book of essays, Chinese Writers on Writing, which has just been published & contains rare contemporary Chinese critical writers in translation. Sze quoted Yu Jen, “poetry is not a noun, but a verb” & “to write real poetry is to repudiate all metaphor.” They also mentioned a forthcoming anthology of contemporary Chinese poetry from Copper Canyon Press, edited by Howard Goldblatt.

If you want more information about each of the workshops/panels & the bios of the presenters, go the Split-this-Rock website.

I’ll be posting a separate entry about the readings later in the evening.

March 13, 2010

Split-this-Rock Dream Poem

It must be something in the air
Just before I woke up, in a dream
the word “Obama” floats through my thoughts
or perhaps it is spoken by others
not in debate or analysis or even a name.
Just the word, a sound
like people sighing
or a runaway metaphor from a poem
what the Metro sounds like when it pulls into a station.
I have heard lots of words spoken, read
here at this festival, but in my dream
this was just another recurring sound
a shifting connotation in a forest of contexts
this word that found its way
into my early morning dreams.
It must be something in the air.

Split this Rock Poetry Festival, Thursday, March 11

I did my workshop, How to Build a Poetry Reading, this AM in the front room of the Thurgood Marshall Center. There were about 10-12 folks, including the late arrivals, many from the DC area, where there apparently are lots of readings/open mics/slams already. Toni Asante Lightfoot joined me in sharing her experience running poetry events.

Hung out having lunch & typing at Busboys & Poets, then took some time off before heading to the Poetry in the Streets event in Upper Senate Park, beneath the shadow of the Capitol. A string of poets threaded our way to the stage to each recite one line of poetry, limited to 12 words, a Cento sending a message of peace & "get off your collective asses & end the war" to the members of Congress. Check out the poem at the Split this Rock Blog. Hanging out with new friends, re-connecting with old friends. My picture ended up in the pages of the Washington Post the next morning. You can also check out photos by the omni-present photographer, Jill Brazel, on the Split this Rock Facebook page & on their website.

Time for dinner & a drink & then back to the Bell Multicultural High School for the evening's reading. Mark Nowak gave a reading with slides, touching on the Sago mine disaster & mining accidents in China, in what is being called documentary poetry. Lillian Allen, who lives in Canada, performed her poems in the tradition of "Dub poetry," reggae rhythms & the early roots of hip-hop. She took on the lingo & dance rhythms of the islands, mixing in sound patterns with the words, in such poems as "Limbo Dancer," poems about women in prison, in housing projects & giving birth, even a love poem ("would love to make a revolution with you").

Francisco Aragon's poem were mostly short, evoked the spirit of Garcia Lorca & Ernesto Cardenal. His poems to us "To Madrid," & Rome ("The Tailor"), & a strange slant translation of Rilke, "Torso." Nancy Morejon is from Cuba (& the Cuban ambassador was in the house).  She read her poems in Spanish, then in translations done by others, often touching on the Afro-Cuban themes of slavery & oppression, but in the rich, colorful images often found in poetry from the Caribbean.

Once again, a wonderful, full night of poetry, but run well, the readings moving along with variety & judicious sense of time. More detailed informaton about each of the poets can be found on the website.

March 11, 2010

Split-this-Rock Poetry Festival, Wednesday, March 10 - Part 2

Whoops, this is what happens when I start to write up the event late at night, needing to get to bed to be fresh the next AM, then finish it the next morning without going back over my notes.

In my account of the opening ceremony at Busboys & Poets I mentioned Regie Cabico doing intros but forgot to mention who he was introducing. Actually it was 5 fine poets, including winners of Split this Rock's World & Me Youth Poetry Contest & members of the DC Youth Slam Team.

The young poets all read strong pieces. They were Shannon, with a piece on gentrification, Malcolm, Alissa, Molly & Diamonte (with a quirky piece on "Buddha's awkward therapy").  Much too good to have been left out of my last report.

More to come.

Split-this-Rock Festival, Wednesday, March 10

Well, here I am in our nation's capital at Split-this-Rock Poetry Festival & already I'm having a great time, & heard some marvelous poetry. The opening ceremony was at Busboys & Poets at V Street & 14th, beginning with some energetic West-African drumming by the racially-mixed Young Women's Drumming Empowerment Project. Then collaborative poetry by young women in white, the Shakti Brigade, that if I didn't hear any more poetry tonight, it would have been worth the price of admission. Andy Shallal from Busboys & Poets did the energetic intros, with Regie Cabico helping out. Co-Directors/Mother-Goddesses of this festival, Sarah Browning & Melissa Tuckey, read poems by the gone poets Mahmoud Darwish, Lucille Clifton & Dennis Brutus (who had read at the last festival, 2 years ago) to bless the event.
From there a brisk walk (or a 1-stop Metro ride) up to Bell Multicultural High School for the first of the Featured Readings, making new friends, finding friends from the last festival, on the way. First, brief readings by the poets-in-residence at each of the Busboys & Poets 3 locations, Beny Blaq, Derrick Weston Brown & Holly Bass, a fitting introduction to the fine poets of this city (what Cornelius Eady later called "a grand city for poets").

Wang Ping began with short poem/response to the critic Helen Vendler, "Syntax." Among the poems she read was "Dust Angels," about Chinese production-line workers making religious items for the West; she read the Chinese first, then in English. Cornelius Eady began with a couple poems on the Obama inagueration, "Aretha Franklin's Inaugeral Hat" & "Praise for the Inaugeral Poet." His reading was a model of how to read quietly & let the words speak for themselves. In contrast, Andrea Gibson performed nearly all of her poems in an intense, slam style, in spite of her opening disclaimer that she "don't do much slam anymore..." Her material is intense, political but I found deadened by the sameness of her performance, in spite taped muscial background for some of her poems. Still, a great start, great poets & poems.

Then home (i.e., hotel room) tired, with words still ringing in my head.

March 7, 2010

Book-signing/Reading: Nate Pritts & Matt Hart, March 6

This was a small, informal gathering at the Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza as part of a tour of these poet-friend-collaborators that will take them up & down the East coast & out as far as Kalamazoo until the end of the month. I had met Nate Pritts just last month when Daniel Nester brought him to the Social Justice Center with his class from St. Rose, & when he attended the Karaoke+Poetry=Fun event at Valentine's. Matt Hart is a poet, teacher, editor from Cincinnati, Ohio.

The center-piece of their reading was a neat little tour chapbook, Feelings, Assoc., of poems that play off each other, perhaps collaboratively written, so much so that none of the 12 poems contain the individual author's names & a few share titles or title variations. In their remarks, they explicitly referenced Lyrical Ballads, but neither was sure who was playing Wordsworth, who Coleridge.

They also seemed to share an affinity for public speech of the pulpit -- Matt read an affecting piece combining his background in a punk-rock band with childhood memories of listening to preachers in church, while Nate's latest book The Wonderful Yeare (Cooper Dillon Books, 2009) opens with a section titled "Spring Psalter."

Catch them as they fly by, if you can.

March 4, 2010

Metrobland Readers' Pole

I did some late night dumpster-diving into Metroland's trash & in addition to hundreds of Dunkin' Donuts cups & wrappers, a couple of used condoms, empty booze bottles (1 each Scotch, Bourbon, Vodka & Jameson), & a pair of panties (size 5), I found the tally sheets for the Readers' Poll. I didn't really care about most of the categories, but for "Best Local Poet" I can report that the votes were as follows:
#1. Mary Panza with 22 (she has a big Italian family & was once a bartender so lots of people know her).
#2. RM Engelhardt with 4 (Rob's vote for himself accounts for 1; I, again this year, voted for him twice; & it appears that Stephen Leon was the other vote).
#3. Dan Wilcox (that's me) with 1 vote, & I know who that was because he told me.

How much you want to bet that Metroland's own staff pick later this year for Best Local Poet will be an academic poet again? & whose panties were in the trash?

March 2, 2010

Poets Speak Loud, February 22

I have more fun at this monthly open mic than at just about any other around. Maybe it's the food at the Lark Tavern, or the drinks, or maybe it's my fantasy Nicole the Waitress -- could it be the poets? Nah!

Tonight the tag-team hosts were Thom Francis & Keith Spenser. & the first poet up was Sylvia Barnard with last week's "Ash Wednesday" & the companion "Easter Poem" filled with wind, tulips & Jesus Christ. I read an old poem, "Kissing Dina," from my new chapbook, then a new poem, "A Visit" (they were about 2 different people, if I didn't make that clear).

Don Levy rocked the house of unsuspecting diners with his "Underwear Boi Wonder," then, with Rob in the house, responded to one of his poems with "Hey This is My Street Corner You Poetry Skank." Jason St. Vincent Crane (he wanted to get the open mic folks to all sign up with "St. Vincent" as their middle name but didn't get here early enough (it's Edna Etc. Millay's birthday, if she were still alive); he did "I Am Not An Indian" & "Citizenship 101" which consisted of a series of commands -- good political pieces.

Tonight's featured poet, Carolee Sherwood, did all the right things: she brought her own crowd of friends & relatives (I mean, if they don't come to your readings, who will?). She is currently half of the President of the Hudson Valley Writers Guild & has been coming to lots of open mics, so it was a good chance to hear a big chunk of her work at once. She began ominously, with her husband in the audience, "Planning Hubbie's Funeral,' then into "Reasons to Stay Locked Up at Home". She read a cluster from a new poetry mss. she is putting together, including a group with "animals": "My Spirit Kamikaze" (a black bird), "Inspired by a Deer Carcass…", & "Godzilla Tears Up Main St. Castleton & Shows Me the Way Out." "Yield" was about growing apologies in a garden, followed by the instructions (which included a sword) of "How to Save Yourself." Leaving the mss., "What the Surgeon Couldn't Do" & "Definition" were on medical themes, which carried over into "A Love Poem." To Portland, OR for "Dinner at Deb's," then Picasso's great series of drawings about the Minotaur were the subject of "Minotaur Abducting a Woman" where the persona wants to be the woman beneath the Minotaur. "A Little Red Hen Has Pecked the Fence for the Last Time" seemed to return her to the themes of her opening poems. For her finale, "In the Porn Movie, The Poet Plays the Part of the Pizza Delivery Guy," she brought a local poet on stage (me!) to utter 2 lines, which I, being no actor, of course over-played -- it was great fun. Carolee is a fine poet & we are lucky to have her around & hope to hear lots more.

Tess Lecuyer has many fine poems about crows but tonight's 2 bird poems were not: "Strays" & one about pigeons & an owl, "City." Bob Sharkey ranged up & down the East coast with "Walk with Me in Portland" (Maine) & "For Her Metholated Spirit" at the Museum of Modern Art. Jill Crammond Wickham is the other half of the President of the HVWG & read 2 poems that she wrote together with Carolee, "The Eskimo Word for Woman is Abnack (? sp)" (where they used lines from Anne Sexton's poems), & a poem with a long title that Jill said I could just say was "The Kiss Me Mover Poem" that also was based on lines from other poets.

Julie Lomoe read her Blog entry on blogging & the changing tools for the artist to get her or his work out there, "A Starving Artist in a Viral Spiral."  Avery Stempl has become a regular with his social consciousness irony; "The Puzzle" which was his section from a longer, collaborative poem, then the rant "Meditation on the Super Sizing of America," which was sort of like kicking a dead cow.

You can read RM Engelhardt's poems "Lexicon" & "A World on Fire" on his website. As Charles Bukowski once said, "You begin saving the world by saving one person at a time; all else is grandiose romanticism or politics.” Shannon Shoemaker said she inherited her mother's tiny bladder & read "Bathroom," revised to include the Lark Tavern in its stops; "Summer Breeze" (sex) was a good way to end a Winter night.

Like I said, it's always a good time here on the last Monday of each month at Tess' Lark Tavern on Madison Ave. in Albany -- great bar food & beautiful waitresses.
Oh, & great poetry too!

March 1, 2010

Karaoke+Poetry=Fun, February 20

How can I write intelligently about a night out at a bar with poets drinking & doing karaoke? I guess I can't. Besides, half my notes are illegible. I'll try to hit some of the high (or is it "low"?) points & deal with the revisionists later.

The host/MC/party leader was Daniel Nester who organized this event in conjunction with the CLMP Small Press Book Fair held at the College of St. Rose earlier in the day. Of course, Nester jumped in throughout the night with a faux guitar, or not, on stage or on the dance floor. He even gave me a fling (literally) at one point. The banner, as you can see in some of the pictures (if not here, then a more complete collection on my Flickr site), was certainly correct: "mic+pen=beer". He started off the night with a reading of the Mooning section from his recent book How To Be Inappropriate, then sang "Can't Get Enough of Your Love." Later in the night he read a Robert Hayden poem (a nod to Black History Month, I guess), then sang "My Sharona." At times he joined other readers on stage, such as Michelle Bulla, as well as other groups. Did he learn anything from writing that book? You'll have to check out the pictures -- I ain't saying.

I read way up front as one of the "featured poets" since I always know what I'm going to "sing" at these things & it gets it out of the way so I can enjoy the rest of the night; I read the old QE2 poem, "Where Were the Professors" & followed it with my standard, "Wild Thing." Another early reader was maveric-press icon Geof Huth, who also handed out a folded broadside, karrakokkoe, of the poems he read, including a version of "Louie Louie," the song he performed.

Eric Auld's poems were mostly humorous lists of stuff (his list of reasons to apply to grad school made me think I should have read my "27 Things to Do With Your MFA") & then he performed "Me & Julio." Cara Benson's poem was "Ain't She Pretty" then performed "Material Girl" (I think). Tobias Seamon's poem was "a rip off" of a Philip Larkin poem, he said, then sang "All Along the Watchtower" (the Hendrix version). One of Alifair Skebe's poems ("Bird Caged") she described as "another lovely absurdist piece" then sang "Day-OH" (a connection there?).

Shannon Shoemaker who had on 2 different hats because everyone liked the little black fedora she arrived in & wanted to wear it, did her Emo boy poem & then "Born to Run." I think (if it matters) that the best poem of the night was one Kira Brady read from her iPhone, about the changing of the seasons, the solipsistic "The Return of Brown Kira." & I was particularly thrilled when one participant (Carissa Haberland) read my poem, "Ordering Lunch," from my new chapbook boundless abodes of Albany.

Mary Panza & Murrow, with guest singer Tony the Intern, turned things around by doing "Sister Christian" (she loves them mullets) before they performed their poems. Typical. Mary did the street-feminist "Girl Busts Finger," while Murrow (Thom Francis & Keith Spencer) followed with a couple pieces, the "3rd can poem" & "Aftermath."

There were some karaoke virgins & poetry virgins as well, including Sue Conroy, who was the first woman to read after about 5 guys, with a prose piece of family drama & "The Beat Goes On" with Lila as back up singer. Carmine came with his daughter, a student at St. Rose, & he read some of his own rap, & Marie's poem was "Home."

Others I've barely retrieved from my notes include Tony Geras ("Tony the Intern"), his roommate Jessie, Dan Henderson (whose poem was about a fuzz-ball game, if I got it right), Michelle Bulla (sorry about spellings, there was no sign-up sheet to consult afterwards) with a Taylor Mali poem & Danielle S. Ely with a grim poem about Florida.

& of course, without whom we wouldn't know the words, Lila from The Karaoke Zone, who helped out on some songs, & joined in with the faux guitar, patient & good-humored throughout (did anybody buy her a drink?).

With an expensive banner like the one hanging behind the stage, I expect this event will re-surface from time to time. You can always practice in the shower.