July 27, 2010


You worry that you are not writing enough poetry
& I can't respond, having written nothing today.

I went out on the porch to shut off the light
saw the Moon behind thin clouds, almost full

like your breast behind lace, I imagine
& didn't write a poem about it.

July 26, 2010

Poets in the Park, July 17

Once again on a Saturday night in July we gathered in Albany's Washington Park for the 2nd in this year's Poets in the Park. Robert Burns looked down from is perch & Tom Star-Dust saved me the parking spot I need.

Aleathia Drehmer, publisher of the micro fold-out zine Durable Goods, came all the way out from the Southern Tier of New York State to read to us tonight. She started with a sestina with love & Pi & a whale & an albatross, "The Core of My Dysfunction." Then on to generally shorter poems. Some had to do with divorce/marriage crumbling, as "Four Cents an Acre", "Nothing Ever Changes" or perhaps, "Waiting by the Window." Other poems responded to the work of other poets, as in "Dies Irae" (pondering her personal image growing imperfect), & "He Wanted a Love Poem." Her poems are filled with precise images of the world around her, as in the description of a street person ("Shabby Chic") or cops on a plane ("Survivor Guilt"), even among the "diner politics" in a rural Georgia waffle house. & watch for her poem "I Lose Things" to be on someone's rock CD someday. She ended with a longer piece, a 9 part elegy to her mother, based on the Catholic ritual of a Novena, "Lost Season".

Moses Kash III is well known to the Albany poetry community, but has done few readings other than participating in open mics. He is one of the Elders & I was pleased to have him as a featured poet. He took the opportunity to sample some of the themes & styles that those of us who hear him at open mics have come to know as his work. Race one of Moses' important topics & so he began with "The Negro" & continued with the longer celebration & litany, "Black Arts: My Soul is Burning" then on to the sad & angry "Black Babies." His poem "Comes the Dawn" meditates on love & loss & "By the Sands of the Sea" is a rare straight-out love poem. He also touched on another of his grand themes, religion & sports figures, with "The Great One." Some of Moses' work is written like songs, crying for a musician, so he ended with a sample in "You're a Ghetto Superstar." A good sample of his work.

The free series continues during July, 7PM at the Robert Burns statue in Washington Park, Albany, NY.

July 23, 2010

UGT Presents: Erotique Noire… What's Your Fantasy? July 16

One way to pack the Linda Auditorium on Central Ave. is with the erotic, so I had to show up, hoping to last all night (like a 20-year old). And wouldn't you know, the host, Mojavi, had me go first (or was it Ms. Bliss who was controlling the list?). So I performed my poem, a favorite of 3 Guys from Albany performances, "To My Penis."  Then I was followed by Mary Panza with, as she said, poems out of the Archives, including my favorite "The Blues."

That barely got the night going. In between, Mojavi helped promote the table of sex-toys & paraphrenalia that was doing the kind of business you would expect, so if you think that's a dildo in his hand in the photo, you are correct. And then poets were all women from that point on (up to the stand-up comic).

I try to keep notes on the poets & the poems but I'm having trouble reading these pages & some are stuck together. I know there was Penny with an ode to safe sex, &
Blue Storm with a paean to her dildo, "Me Myself & My Rabbitt" She also offered some of the most helpful advice for the night, "suck a dick & save a life." Antoinette Lawson had a sexy poem called (I think) "Undress" then a couple of more women doing a whole string of candlelight sex & fantasy poems, oh yes. Camilla Henry sang songs done by Alicia Keys, then Nakia Tillman thought about her boyfriend after he breaks her heart.

It had been a long day & I was on my own & the heat kept getting turned up & the toy table was confusing, & I was perhaps the oldest white guy in the room & it was time to go home. I'm sure I missed lots of good stuff.

It's not always erotica at UGT, but that frequently rears its beautiful head (so to speak) not matter what the theme of the night might be. The third Friday at WMHT's Linda Auditorium. Check the website for the next theme.

July 21, 2010

Third Thursday Poetry Night, July 15

A hot night at the Social Justice Center: the weather, the featured performer & the open mic poets; it's a wonder the place didn't catch on fire. Our muse was Tuli Kupferberg singing his anthem, "Nothing" from the Fugs 1st album. Tuli became star-dust this week.

We began as we often do here with Alan Catlin, tonight reading "Lady Day Sings the Blues in an Open All-Night Club," starting off the night's jazz theme in another Hot place.

The first of the night's virgin readers was my colleague from Veterans For Peace, Ed Bloch, who read his poem "The Horla", from his book on his experiences in World War II, Courage, Coward, Courage!! - Steps Along the Way. Bob Sharkey's poem incorporating paintings from the Metropolitan Museum, was "The Blues at Dawn", with references to Jason Crane's poems & his legendary bag. Brian Liston was also here for the first time & performed his short, signature poem "The Autistic Super Kid." Don Levy read his new poem (you can find it on his Facebook page) "All Hand Jobs On Deck, or Boop Me All Night Long" (Popeye & Betty Boop having sex, if you must know).

When I invited Jason Crane to the featured poet here, I wasn't surprised when he, the host of The Jazz Sessions online, proposed a jazz-themed reading. However, I was shocked when he asked me to play saxophone with him (obviously he had never heard me play). So tonight was the debut (& undoubtably the final) performance) of The Poet's Jazz Trio: Jason Crane on soprano sax & poems, Tom Corrado on bass, & Dan Wilcox on alto sax & percussion. Now in one of the wonderous ironies of Life, the technology that makes this Blog possible & easy to do, also makes this Blog obsolete since Jason recorded his/our performance & you can hear it yourself, rather than read my rather Gutenberg-era summary. But I will press on.

Jason dedicated his reading to Gene Ludwig, the jazz organist who recently left this Earth, reading his poem "Gene Ludwig" (from Unexpected Sunlight, FootHills Publishing). Then the group began by slaughtering one of my (& Jason's) favorite jazz tunes, Thelonious Monk's grinning "Blue Monk." "91" was to/about another gone jazzman, Hank Jones, with Tom's walking bass, then the slow, dark narrative "Blackout." He brought us back to the day's news with "Deepwater Horizon," then the sad vignette "First Night." "Oh Lord" is a tribute to Mingus & the new social/survival issues of our time, ending with a sax solo. Sun Ra, though "up there" too, is still a lot of fun to hear, & Jason's tribute ("To Swing You") to this weirdo jazzman/spaceman tried to give a taste in words, with Tom & me in the background. "Strings" was about cats & their guts (or our own). "Long Day in America" is another vignette with accompaniment, then he ended solo with a solitary writer "Stephen Edward."

So after the break I read, of course, "Acrostic Jazz" for Thelonious Sphere Monk. W.D. Clarke's poem was an adult fairly tale, "Ebenezer's Bed." Our bassist, Tom Corrado's tongue-in-cheek poem "A History of the World in Four-Line Feeds: Part 17" began with a quote from Jacques Derrida. Alan Casline's "Spontaneous Blues" poems were written in pocket notebooks, like Kerouac, tonight he read Chorus 5, listening to a bird. Moses Kash III just wrote/re-wrote/edited "Wasted Souls" today, about the invasion of other countries by the USA, but ending with ice-cream. Julie Lomoe's "Slump-a-Dump" was in rap rhymes on her writers' block (if you write about your writer's block, does that mean it's no writer's block?).

Another first-timer at the SJC, Malcolm Willison, said he was glad to finally make it here & read a political piece, "Up-sizing." Avery was still another SJC virgin, with a piece of paper "In My Pocket." Ed Rinaldi's short poem, "I Could Be Asleep Instead," was inspired by Theodore Roethke. D. Alexander Holiday read a chilling poem of childhood trauma by Bruce Weigel, "The Impossible." Sometimes, just by being at the end of the list, you end up being the "ultimate" poet, & so Terry Bat-Sonja was the last up & read an untitled lush description of a bird on a lawn.

Every third Thursday ("if you can remember "third" you can remember "Thursday") at the SJC, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY, 7:30 PM, $3 donation, featured poet & open mic.

Live from the Living Room, July 14

It was nicely air-conditioned, one could say a most-cool night at the Gay & Lesbian Community Center on Hudson Ave. in Albany, NY, with our equally cool host, Don Levy.

Even cooler was our featured poet for the night, Jill Crammond Wickham. She began with a poem for her co-President of the HVWG, Carolee Sherwood (who was off doing the poetry thing on the Left Coast), a patchwork poem of the lines of Anne Sexton, "You Are the Answer." She was also the proprietor until recently of Miss Jill's Art Studiio, "was" because the landlord kicked her out, but her poem brought in what the kids know, & they really do. Jill's titles themselves can make for an interesting Blog, but the problem is that some are so long that I can't keep up, scribbling in my my reporter's notebook (where the hell is my voice recorder?). She included a couple of her signature "June Cleaver" commentaries on suburban housewives (I liked her naming birds at her feeder for her former boyfriends), but a also a bigger chunk of "circus" poems, like "Lady Derringer," "On Keeping Up Appearances: The Wooden Woman at the Circus Museum Speaks" (see what I mean?), the mis-heard poem, "Did You Make a Date to Join the Circus?" & the "Ghazal In Anticipation of Love's Resurrection." But is "Pole Dancer's Diary" with all it's gardening really a June Cleever poem? Then there was "Little Red Riding Hood Discusses Her Costume," & a Goldie Locks poem, & Barbie tells "What the Dolls Do While We Sleep," even an ekphrastic poem. All full of word play & sex & attitude. Who knew this was her first featured reading? & her hair was perfect!

With only a few open mic poets there, Uncle Don let us read up to 3 poems if we wanted -- & I did: the Frank O'Hara inspired "Poem," & from Cape Cod, "The Easel's Story," & "Sand Sheets." Jason Crane is on his bike a lot & can easily imagine drivers' reactions as he did in "This 2-Wheeled Life," followed by "On Tuesday All As One" as he goes officially car-less, then a lonely, just-written poem.

Bob Sharkey began with a prose piece from his series set in Troy, "The River" then an erasure poem based on Michael Ondaaje's novel about the early jazz musician, Buddy Bolden. Sylvia Barnard brought a recent poem about a visit to the "Adirondacks," moose, deer, & tourists in rhyme. Don Levy brought the night to a close with a collage of history of the gay liberation movement, based on an anthology with the same title, "Out of the Closets: Voices of Gay Liberation," then the Facebook commentary, "How Can You Have Too Many Friends?"

If not cool, at least pleasant & straight-friendly, every 2nd Wednesday, 7PM.

July 20, 2010

Professor Java's Wide Open Mic, July 12

This is more like a poetry open mic with musicians rather than the usual musician dominated open mic with token poets, so I had a pretty good time. And there were some of Albany's finest reading tonight. Keith Spencer was the host, whose introductions contrasted lies & truths about the performers he was introducing; sometimes the lies became truths & the truths lies, just like everything else in life.

After Matt spent some time flailing around an instrumental on his guitar, the first poets up were me & Lisa Ann LoBasso, who was in town from Bakersfield, CA (she had been featured last year at Poets in the Park & Caffe Lena & in the Connecticut Poetry Festival). We performed 3 poems together; the first was my piece, "27 Things You Can Do with an MFA," then 2 of Lisa Ann's poems, "An American in London," & "Deconstruction Conversations with My Father and the Visiting Man."

Marilyn Day read 2 poems both called "Interpretation of Dream," One, & Two (which was in 6 part, remembering repeated dreams with snakes). Jan Tramontano's first piece was a rant on the health care debate, then to the Ferlinghetti inspired (I wonder if she was wearing his tee shirt when she wrote it?) "Leading My Life Quietly," then "My Husband's Garden." In his poem "The Check Out" Joe Krausman pondered the techniques for losing weight, then offered us the advice "Never Wash a Hedge Hog" (one had nothing to do with the other, I don't think).  Thérèse Broderick must've been scribbling madly during the last few poets because she came up with "7 Reasons I Love My MFA" (we love her mfa too); "Vandal" was about a tree, & was written on her front porch.

Carol Jewell read 2 of her many pantoums, both somewhat philosophical & abstract. I will be nice, say no more than that Sarah La Mountain's poem "Summerlands" was about a dead dog.

Todd Fabozzi read poems from his latest collection, Crossroads, including commenting on the "MFA debate" with his poem "University of the Street." Danielle La Rose described the work she read as "2 short poems by a short person," which they were & containing mainly platitudes -- images, more images please! Thom Francis ended the night with images (read from his pocket notebook) of a poet who was (is?) in one of the poems best lines, a "paper messiah, martyr with a pen."

In between the poets, musicians Erin Powers & Greg Gooba performed in their separate slots, but by far the best of the night was Mary Leigh & Zack, she on guitar & vocals, he on a drum; her "Hey Romeo" & the wildly suggestive "Candyman" both had creative lyrics with excellent use of half rhymes & clever turns of phrase.

This is the 2nd Monday of the month at 8PM at Professor Java's on Wolf Rd. in Colonie, NY; bring a guitar if you got it, but make sure it's in tune.

July 19, 2010

Poets in the Park, July 10

Poets in the Park celebrates over 20 years of poetry in July at the Robert Burns statue in Washington Park, Albany, NY. The series was started in 1989 by the late Tom Nattell and is now run by me. The featured poets on July 10 were Donald Wellman & Cheryl A. Rice.

Cheryl Rice is a great friend of Albany & the poetry scene & started off with some Albany poems, "My Central Ave." from her grad school days here, & the Lark Tavern tribute, "Is Nothing Sacred?," in which she names names. She included a segment of poems to poets, Walt Whitman & undressing Billy Collins, then a couple from the "2nd edition" of her chapbook on Marilyn Monroe, Auction. She is one of a handful of poets who responded to my challenge to writer their own versions of my poem "Baghdad/Albany" & read her stirring version, "Baghdad/Kingston." She concluded with a bouquet of poems to her boyfriend, ending with the tender love poem, "Imperfections."

Somewhere along cyberspace I stumbled upon Donald Wellman's work & really enjoyed reading his book of poems, Prolog Pages: (Ahadada Books, 2008). He began his reading with brief sung lines of Robbie Burns' "Flow Gently Sweet Afton…" then a poem ("Beginning at the Shore") from his book Fields (Light & Dust, 1995). "Libretto," he said, was a Baroque opera & he read 3 parts, with lust, love & death & politics. From Prolog Pages: he read "Ensaladas," some pieces alluding to the Spanish poet Emilio Prados & a group of poems from the Mexican section of the book. Don has also translated the Spanish poet Antonio Gamoneda, so read a brief poem from Gravestones/Lápidas (University of New Orleans Press, 2009). He finished up with a cluster of personal poems, including "Memorial Day", & "Jack," confusing the memories of his father & Jack Kerouac's father in Nashua, N.H., & the "new new poem" about traveling to a writers' conference, "Denver" (for Charles Bernstein). The last poem was the very musical "Medieval Exercise" for the glory days of Medieval Spain.

A little something for everyone's poetic tastes for this first Poets in the Park for 2010. More coming. The readings are free & open to the public; donations are accepted. The series is co-sponsored by the Hudson Valley Writers Guild; for more information about the Guild visit the website www.hvwg.org.

July 13, 2010

Tuli Kupferberg (1923 - 2010)

Tuli's work with the Fugs, & his provocative drawings, short commentaries speak for themselves. You, gentle reader, can find him in cyberspace, especially on You Tube but here is a start from the LA Times.

I put up a link on my FaceBook page for the hauntingly beautiful "Morning, Morning"  but my first inclination was to post "Nothing." Then, playing the Fugs CDs, I was reminded of "Carpe Diem" & of course, "Kill for Peace" & "CIA Man."

Tuli performed with The Fugs in September, 2003 at Page Hall & these are 2 pictures I took then.

Listen to the music, & sing along, he'd like that.

Caffè Lena Open Mic, July 7

The usual host for this monthly open mic is Carol Graser, but tonight the guest host was Carolee Sherwood, a fine replacement for a dazzling night. She began with a poem by W.D. Snodgrass. I am rarely the first reader at this event, but for some reason the first slot was open when I arrived so I took it (Nature abhors a vacuum, or as Mr. Natural once said, "Vacuums suck"), so I read "At Garfield Park" in honor of the heat, then the new poem "On Reading a Poem by ee cummings."

Michael Rush's poems were conversations about the big philosophical issues. But Mike Burke's "Lakeside Rocks at Lookout Point" confronted some of the same issues of life & aging & death, but in images, not abstractions. Dennis Sullivan said his poems were on naming & consciousness, & paid tribute to the Nicaraguan poet Alfonso Cortés; "Along the Western Road" is dedicated to me, & of "A Person is an Impersonal Thing" he said, "worry is a lack of vision."

Todd Fabozzi read "They Put Mother Nature in a Cubicle,"& "Citizen Snitch" from his book, Crossroads. Tom Corrado strung along a series of non-sequiturs that included his 13-year old daughter & the Woodstock concert, "Eating a Footlong in the Car on the Way to Ballet." Obeeduíd (Mark O'Brien) explained that he was "going paperless", read a couple poems from his laptop & then had trouble with his device on the second poem.

Alan Casline ("Bird") was the featured poet, drawing some of the afore-mentioned readers from poets in the Voorheesville crowd, which his first poem, "A Moment" was about. He had little theme groups which he talked about, explaining his thoughts, his pensive musings often sounding like his soft-spoken poems. One of his un-stated themes was squirrels that included his popular flat-dead squirrel poem & one written for the Obama inauguration, "Sammy the Squirrel Gives a Stump Speech." Included also were poems about his father, & his son, & a cluster from his Grandfather Carp chapbook, & the ditty "Crow 2 to 4." HIs most recent was the July 4, "Memory Treks." Check out his work on his Blog.

Tonight's host, Carolee, paid tribute to the usual host & coordinator of this series by reading one of Carol Graser's poems, "Lost," from her fine collection from FootHills Publishing, The Wild Twist of Their Stems. Jason Crane followed with "Pumpkin," & a touching poem about his marriage proposal, "The Oak Tree." Barbara Garro showed up in a summer Saratoga hat & read a couple poems, including a pedestrian piece on "The Poverty of Poe." Nancy Denofio read a "day in the life" of her Sicilian grandfather, in lush colors. Jeanine Ouderkirk was back after a long hiatus with an untitled poem about a relationship told from 2 points of view, & another about her music, how vital it is to her life.

Alan Catlin's first poem was about working in a bar on the 4th of July after the fireworks downtown, then a tale of an earlier time working in an ice cream place, "Bonita & Clyde."
Marjorie Dorn's poems seemed ripped from the pages of a teen's journal, filled with angst & emotional conflicts, sometimes rhyming, sometimes not, dealing with the cruelty of labeling ("Can't Go On"), & with an outcast suicide, "As the Rain Pours." Both of Gordon Haymon's poems dealt with war & peace & were in rhyme. W.D. Clarke is a rhymer too, & he paid tribute to Canada's war veterans (specifically a 94-year old vet) in "Canada's Forces," then James Bond in rhyme, "A Secret Agent."

The ladies finished off the night. Marilyn Day's "This Poem Once Dripped with Passion" was a sexy list/chant, then she contrasted 2 points in time with "Provincetown Honeymoon, Florida Vacation." Therese Broderick read 2 poems about her daughter, new & old: her last soccer game, & "Milk" a haiku to her at age 1. Although a seasoned Albany poet, this was Sue Oringel's first time reading here; I'm not sure I've ever heard a poem about golf, moreover women's golf, as was her poem "Links," while "Bleeding Hearts" was from a series on clichés. Jill Crammond Wickham's first poem pondered age, while watching children playing in the lake, then responded to a sister-poet's poem, "You Think Your Clover Sad?"

This open mic, with a featured poet, is held each first Wednesday of the month at historic Caffe Lena, Phila St., Saratoga Springs, 7:00PM sign-up, 7:30 start, with the usual host, Carol Graser. Worth the trip.

July 10, 2010

The Bernadette Mayer 11th Annual Poetry BBQ, July 3

held at Bernadette Mayer's & Philip Good's homestead in East Nassau, NY. This is the first year I'd been able to make it & damn glad I did -- great weather, great food, great poets & poetry. As we gathered in the "main hall" for the poems, we were treated to 2 "humorous poems" from Ed Sanders, via speaker-phone. Later Andrei Codrescu called in with his rant, & still later Harris Schiff with a poem from Paris.

Dave Brinks was in from New Orleans to be the MC & to make his Alligator crawfish Jambalaya. He read about half way through, a couple poems by Bob Kaufman (the New Orleans connection) & one written right here, yesterday, for Bernadette & Philip.

Speaking of whom, Bernadette read a poem early on about the wrens who had built a nest on her porch, & who accompanied her, if you listened closely, in her reading with their singing (& throughout the other poets as well). A little later Philip read what he called "poems in the past" from his notebook: snow storms & train rides.

Pierre Joris & Nicole Peyrafitte were up from Brooklyn with their son Miles, taller & more hairy than the last time I saw him, who played guitar while Nicole performed "Golden Invocation" (or was that "Invoice"?) with the great refrain, "can you vulva clap the light?", then a poem of hers in French with Pierre reading his translation. Then Pierre read 2 poems, one on the invention of Belly-dancing (was he there for that?).

It was a friendly crowd with tributes to other poets here often the theme, such as Elizabeth Willis reading a poem for Dave Brinks, or Tom Gizzi doing a song with his guitar made up of words from Brinks' writing, & Peter Gizzi's poem for Bernadette "A Note on the Text." Even some of the youngest poets had their references to the place, such as Miles Joris-Peyraffite reading poems from his pocket notebook written here the last couple of days, or his friend Tommy Panitz including a poem about the upstairs room in Bernadette & Phil's house where he spent the night.

Another recurring theme, often with a nod to Dave Brinks, was the oil spill catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico. These included Tracey McTeague's (with daughter on hip) "A Curse from the Ancestors," Jamey Jones with notes from his journal for Pensacola & the Gulf, & Cara Benson's stuttering sound poem.

When it was my turn, Dave Brinks did a very kind introduction about the Albany poetry community; I read my very new, very NYC "Poem" then the older piece, "Ordering Lunch". Alan Casline followed with a few, including "Sardines." I enjoyed Phil Johnson's poems, one based on a poem by Philippe Soupault, another from 1968.

Other poets filling out the day included Brendan Lorber, dapper in a suit, who read "I Used to Live There But Now I Don't". Roger Van Voorhees' long, long poem was a strange narrative. Ben Tripp was the most technological, having to turn off his ringing cellphone, & reading a couple of his poems from his laptop. Eric Alter's poem was a funny, jazzy foray into philosophy, then "Jamey's Head" about another poet here right now. Jonathan Skinner brought the afternoon to a close with environmental poems, one on wet lands, the other, "Common Yellow Throat" read from a laptop.

That was just the poetry (& the poets who read -- there were others justing listening). From there the discussions & eating continued on to the sunny backyard, the smoke from Pierre grilling lamb-burgers keeping the mosquitos away. From all reports the partying kept on into the night, but I left while it was still daylight, filled with all the good things (most of them, anyways) that fill one's being with light.

July 5, 2010

New York State Summer Writers Institute, June 28

The Summer Writers Institute at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs is a program of workshops & readings by A-list writers, many of whom return year after year (as do some students). In addition there is a full schedule of free readings by these same writers, nearly one each night. This was the first in this year's series, with the first pitch by former US Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, reading poems with jazz accompaniment by Todd Coleman on bass & Pat Labarbara on tenor sax.

But first we have to endure the ritual adulation from Bob Boyers, who out-did himself tonight with a comment that Pinksy's poetry is able to avoid "nebulous immensities" which brought chuckles from the audience, a later comment by Pinsky himself & even table talk during the reception afterwards. Mercifully, tonight the introduction was short.

Robert Pinsky's movie-star looks could probably pack the house even if he wasn't a celebrity-poet, a fine one as well, & basically a nice guy. There were the other celebrity poets in the front row (Carolyn Forche, Frank Bidart, etc.), standing-room-only in the rest of Gannett Auditorium, with honeys at my feet in the aisles & a representation of local area (Albany, Saratoga) poets.

Pinsky began with a poem about Adolf Sax, the inventor of that quintesental jazz instrument; he also performed "Samurai Song," "Antique" (a love poem involving his parents, "Street Music," Ben Jonson's "His Excuse for Loving," "The Refinery" (which included a history of the English language, & the intervention of some gods), & ended with "Rhyme." His presentation was respectful of the musician's space, as were the musicians sensitive to the words. He read the poems as if they were "songs" or musical compositions, repeating lives, even whole stanzas. The musicians' charts were copies of the poems themselves, & Pinsky allowed plenty of time for these 2 seasoned jazz players to stretch out & play.

There has been much debate since the 1950s about combining jazz & poetry, but Robert Pinsky's performance tonight with Todd Coleman & Pat Labarbara showed how well it could be done when both the poet & the musicians pay attention, & are sensitive, to what the other is doing. Just like Life, I guess.

July 1, 2010

Sunday Four Poetry, June 27

I was late getting to the Old Songs Community Center in Voorheeville, having been at the Old Songs Festival in nearby Altamont, a volunteer at the Beer Tent. So I missed a bunch of open mic poets & I can only surmise who they were from looking around the room. But Father Dennis Sullivan was reading as I got there, with his sensitive, thoughtful, well-tuned poems (one of the reasons I go back there most months of the year).

Larry Rapant read 2 poems, outrageous images of history in "Tune for the Misbegotten," & the rhyming poem, "The End of the Affair," both in his non-family style poetry. Edie Abrams was doing the introductions & read her poem "On the Arts," a meditation on the collision of emotionally moving art with political prejudice. Mike Burke's poem "Lakeside Rock", was also a meditation on the long life of Life & the short life of our own existence, or as they used to sing on Fraggle Rock, "pass it on." Alan Casline read from his 2009 Chapbook, Grandfather Carp (bRAINdROP bOOKbENDERS) "Woods Popular Natural History, 1920," "Doubts On the Way," & one for Dennis Sullivan, "A Step in Our River's Stair." Then I brought up the rear with 2 new(!) poems, "Poem" (copying Frank O'Hara) & "Some Morning."

The afternoon's featured poet (& the reason for my frantic rush from the beer tent) was Mary Kathryn Jablonski. As folks know, I published (under the A.P.D. imprint) her 2008 chapbook, To the Husband I Have Not Yet Met. Her well-crafted reading combined, as she said, some "very new poems, couched with older poems." She began with one responding to an incident in 2007 where poet Josh McIntyre proposed to Beatriz Loyola onstage at Caffe Lena, "UG2BKM" (trans., You've Got To Be Kidding Me), then to "Letter 1" of the Husband poems, a good transition. "Scarlet Tanager" brought in one of her frequent images, astronomical features, while the following poem "Girls Washing Eggs" linked back to the bird image. Family memories, as images of loss, or regret, or of time passing, made up "Elderberries" (her Polish grandmother Sophia) & "Josephine Sky" (her mother), with "Letter 10" in between, to complete the complicated weave to the last poem, a loving Valentine to her new husband, "Sequel, A Thousand Times" complete with references back to her Husband poems, & to the first poem she read, a counter to her cynical reaction to a marriage proposal. Not only has Mary Kathryn's poems matured, but so has her skill in putting together a reading that is engaging & fresh, without tiring.

This series is taking a break for the Summer but will be back in September. Look for it on the 4th Sunday of each month, 3PM, in Voorheesville, at the Old Songs Community Center.