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.

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