May 14, 2010

Caffè Lena Open Mic, May 5

Our host, Carol Graser, started off the night with a poem by a former featured poet here at Caffè Lena, Lyn Lifshin, then introduced the first open mic poet, Alan Catlin. He said he always feel like he's referencing Bob Dylan when her reads here, so decided to read one of his Dylan inspired poems, "So When He calls You Now You Can't Refuse;" his second was about the New Yorker writer & his long writer's block, "Joseph Mitchell's Silence." Margaret Bryant is a regular here & jumped right in with "Mother's Bridal Bouquet," then, as she said "a lighter poem" "Light."

Todd Fabozzi read 2 poems from his first book, Umbrageous Embers, "Round Pegs in Square Holes" for poets & revolutionaries, & "The Levee of Indifference." Gordon Hayman's "The Visit" was simple & gentle, while his humorous "Commercial Conscripts" was written from the point of few of one of those silly wind sock characters used to attract folks to stores.

Glenn Witecki did his poem from memory in rhyme about a campfire. George Drew's first poem was a meditative "The Thing About Pigs;" he dedicated "The Young Poet With a New Age Name" (the title says it all) to the night's featured poet, Jared Smith & his wife Deborah.

Jared Smith currently lives in Colorado but had lived back East here many years ago. Last year he was the host to 3 Guys from Albany when we did Albany, Wyoming & set us up with some gigs in the Denver area. It was my time to return the favor when he said he was on an East Coast reading tour so I directed him to Carol & the Caffe Lena open mic. He read a couple poems from his 2008 book The Graves Grow Bigger Between Generations (Higganum Hill Books), "Poets" & "So You Want a Job." His latest book is Looking into the Machinery: The Selected Longer Poems of Jared Smith (Tamarack Editions), in a large 8X10 inch format to accommodate his long lines. He read a section ("A Matter of Degrees") from a longer piece, "Symmetries." Also from the book the political rant "Information Superhighway of Death," & the equally powerful philosophical-historical-political survey "The Graves Grow Bigger Between Generations." Powerful work read in his sonorous voice & with, as another poet noted to me, "a hat with a respectable brim."

After the break W.D. Clarke read an anti-war/Mother's day poem, "For His Mum." Whenever I hear the name of Austen Halpern-Graser I expect to see a tall fellow with a moustache & a British accent -- not quite yet -- but he is the resident stand-up comic & tonight he read us a couple of Aesop's Fables. Dan Stalter started out here at Caffe Lena as a young volunteer who would get up & read from his notebooks; he & his craft have matured, as the 2 intense pieces he read tonight ("Here Lies a Broken Creature" & an untitled piece using a car wreck as the metaphor) attested.

I once read that "every city on a river has a Front St." & Nancy Denofio's long historical poem, "Front St.," was just that: about a city (Schenectady) on a river. One problem of the Caffe Lena stage is that the lighting is set for the audience to see the performers (who characteristically are musicians), not for poets to see their texts while performing; most poets work around it in one way or another. Tonight Barbara Garro borrowed a small flashlight from Thérèse to read 2 poems from a new book, "Christos" & "Holy Heritage."

Carolee Sherwood's first poem was written during April while doing a-poem-a-day "One Evening After A Whole Lot of Same" in fractured syntax, while her second poem was an untitled picture of a day in a rain. It was a nice place to be, next, & I began with the poem I wrote yesterday, "44,000 (May 4, 2010)" & 1 of the Buddhist haikus from my chapbook, boundless abodes of Albany (Benevolent Bird Press).

Thérèse Broderick also used her flashlight & also read a poem from her April assignment, "Decline & Fall" combining the quotidian with the epochal, then "For My Husband" on giving & taking. Jill Wickham was inspired by grabbing a knife while doing the dishes, more everyday elevated to Art, & "Urban Legend" is a poem from a "wordle" (I never heard of it either!). Steve Pillar's poems were rhymes about death, "On the Other Side" & "A Part of Everything."

Ellen Finn has been reading here pretty regularly, & has appeared poem-less in Albany on occasion; both her poems were based on children's movies, "Like Shrek" & "Summer Stuck Between Forward & Backward," fine work from a unique point of view & unusual sources of inspiration. Rob Faivre read "Lost the Halo" from Charles Baudelaire, in translation.

Bob Sharkey's poem "While Riding the Train Between Galway & Dublin on Cinco de Mayo" included the tulips & Burns statue in Albany, & then "Sweetheart," a short word portrait. Gen Legacy ended the night with her poems about being a mother, & a summer poem, nodding to Gertrude Stein with alliteration & repetition, nice work.

Come & bring a poem on the first Wednesday of each month to Caffe Lena on Phila St. in Saratoga Springs.

1 comment:

Nancy Denofio said...

Thanks for the "Mention" it is always great to read what you have to say. But, I enjoy your site, and all the places you have been and what you are doing. I am amazed! But keep wearing that yellow hat! Sincerely Nancy