August 28, 2010

Labor Poetry Reading (Oklahoma Laborfest), August 26

This was the first pitch for a full weekend of music, speakers, poetry & art for Oklahoma Laborfest, a public festival to promote Oklahoma labor history and working-class culture. 3 Guys from Albany were invited to be part of the program & we read with fine bevy of Oklahoma Poets in Coffy's Cafe in the Plaza District of Oklahoma City. The host for the reading was Jeanetta Calhoun Mish, who served as our tour-guide & host throughout our visit. Jeanetta is the 2010 winner of the Oklahoma Book Award & the Western Heritage Association Award for her poetry, & who read at Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs (NY) earlier in the year.

Ron Wallace started off with poems by Howard Starks (including an interesting piece on running boards), then a bunch of his own poems, from Durant, OK ("East Side Boys") to "Queens NY
October 1967." Straight-talking poetry.

Dorothy Alexander's poems were about farming cotton & herfamily picking fruit in California during the Depression, often about her father ("Sacrament" & "Planting Time"), then to "The
Roughneck" & "Elegy for the Derrick Man" about oil workers.

J.C. Mahan read as "Johnny Catfish" poems ranging from "Old John's Song" ("...better day a'comin'..."), to a poem for working women ("Camptown Blues"), "Land Lords & Lovers," & the artist's revolt, "Art Show Review." 

Ken Hada (from Ada) began with a couple poems from his book  Spare Parts (Mongrel Empire Press, 2010), "Good Enough" & "Ramona," then a new poem, "Custodians on Break," & "Ancestors" & "My Favorite Diner" (actually, waitresses).

A pleasant surprise this night was the work of Aaron Rudolph. He started with "Love Song for a Bus
Driver." Then on "To the Poet in Line at the K-Mart with a Handful of Coupons," a poem for his father "Fixing Things," & poems on his Mexican heritage, "Richie Valens," & from his series of fictionalized poems about his family.

After a break, it was time for 3 Guys from Albany took to the "stage" for a program of some of our greatest hits & labor poems, mixing up, as we always do, who follows whom.

Terri McGrath followed with a couple poems from work as a waitress in a waffle house ("A Waffle House Tale" & "Missing Piece).

Abigail Keegan's poems varied from "Pictures of Pioneer Women," to one based on a tabloid heading, to a villanelle about her parents "Daily Love Letters," ending with one about her grandmother, "The Riveter."

Jason Poudrier served in Iraq, which forms the basis of his poems: "Desert Hostile," "From One Veteran to Another," "Where the Veterans Are," "Baghdad International" (he said it was his first military poem & has certainly not turned out to be the last), "Dear Mr. Sandman" (on flashbacks), & "Black Angus Watermelon" (like the flies on a body in Iraq) -- powerful stuff, to live, to write, to hear.

Karen Neurohr was here to re-introduce the work of Oklahoma poet Wilma McDaniels (complete with a large photo of the poet); McDaniels was also a former poet laureate of California. The poems Karen read ranged from Depression-era poems like "Color Claims" (1936) & "Picking Grapes" (1937), to thoughts on being an Okie poet, from 2001 ("Something Important Remembered Now"), & thoughts on "A Peachy Life." Wilma McDaniels is a poet worth looking up & reading.

Our able host, Jeanetta Calhoun Mish, was about to close out the night when we insisted that she too read a poem, which she did, the title poem from her collection Work is Love Made Visible (West End Press, 2009).

A great start to the festival, packing Coffy's Cafe, with speakers out on the street for the spill-over crowd & smokers.

August 25, 2010

Mudd Poets Reading Series, August 21

I was pleased to be a featured reader here in New Paltz at the Mudd Puddle Cafe, along with Mary Panza -- not to mention a slurry of open mic poets, hosted by Robert Milby.

I began with an August poem, Tom Nattell's "Hiroshima" then on to one of my favorite of Mary Panza's poems, "I Saw the Blessed Virgin at the Lancome Counter at Macy's." On to my own poems I began with "Coffee House Rant" from my chapbook, boundless abodes of Albany (Benevolent Bird Press), & a couple of short pieces from Truro this Spring. I had noticed among my work a cluster of poems with the word "poem" in the title, so put them together here: "Poems About Poetry," "Poem" (a nod to Frank O'Hara), "Poeming," & "Poetry Prompt." I concluded with "the obligatory oil-spill poem," "Pindar's Shrimp."

Mary Panza read next, with what seemed to me a collection of some her greatest hits, beginning with the thought that life goes on "In a Post-Partem World," then with a poem for her daughter Julia (but not quite yet), "Fuck the Giving Tree." On to to "Boys With Mess Cars…", & the poem about collecting magazines about John Kennedy Jr.' s death, "Today I Put Your Smiling Face in a Ziploc Bag." Then she put the male world on notice with "Girl Bust Finger," & "Divorcing Albert," ending with the short impact of "Cock-Kicker Manifesto."

Starting off the open mic, Mark Marinoff's "Eyes Alert" was about El Greco paintings in a museum. Donald Lev lived for many years with his wife, the late Enid Dame, in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, & read his poem "The Human Condition of Brighton Beach" & Enid's "Brighton Beach," then "Watercolor" & "Sin" (pissing on the Tree of Life -- oh, no!). Ted Gill's 3 poems, "The Rule," "Pour the Fire Out," & "Lover's Lament" were in his characteristic rhymes. Terence Chiesa's performance as "Tommy Burns" were reflections of a drunken Irish grave digger, including one piece on "Borrowed Flowers from a Rich Man's Grave" (reminding me of a poem Jill Crammond Wickham read just last Thursday).

Glenn Werner's "180 Bibles" pondered the changes in book technology, then read a piece on pain based on Parsifal.  Speaking of pain, Billy Herman's prose memoir (sounded like a therapy journal) described what a pain his brother & his father are. Roberta Gould's first poem ("Renovation") pondered a new restaurant on the site of one where a murder took place; the others were recently written, including "First" about the season's first couple (Cardinals) at the bird-feeder. Thom Francis' "Third Can" was about being in control (or not), & he read "Paper Messiah" because I always like to hear it (thanks, Thom).

Christopher Wheeling read a short poem by Yehuda Amichai, then his equally short response, & 2 others, including "Antigone & Ants" at breakfast. Kate Himes read "This is the First Time I Will Tell You I Love You" by Arthur Pfister from his book My Name is New Orleans.
Marianna Boncek read her poem "Bittersweet" from the just published The Goat Hill Poets (Post Traumatic Press, 2010). Did I mention that there was no mic for the open mic?  Not that Dave Kime ever needs one; he read about a peace vigil ("Candlelight Service"), & "Summer" then the loud Luddite rant "Operation Mind Trip."

Cheryl A. Rice also read from The Goat Hill Poets collection, "Imperfections" & "Angels." Adam read a prose piece, "Gas Station Monk" (a strange pursuit), then Arthur Sze's "The Gingko Light." Sonya Lynch's 2 poems walked along the edge of sentimental cliche without falling over the line; "Time Passed" on now, & "Life Keeps Getting in the Way" (of writing). Our host Robert Milby read from Salvatore Quasimodo & Jules LaForgue, then his own rant "For the Texting Zombies."

This is a regular series on the 3rd Saturday of each month at the Mudd Puddle Cafe, 10 Main St. (inside Water St. market), New Paltz, NY, 7PM (or 7:30 is the coffeehouse staff show up late).

August 22, 2010

Third Thursday Poetry Night, August 19

Another night of wonderful poetry at the Social Justice Center in Albany, with our featured poet Jill Crammond Wickham. I selected as our Muse Anne Sexton & read one of her lesser-known pieces her poem "Song for a Red Nightgown."

Jason Crane, a former-feature here, began the open mic with a love poem, "Tennessee Horizon." Future feature (hear her here in November) Carolee Sherwood was next with "As Scary As I Know How, On Celebrating 6-Years of Poetry," inspired by her work with Jill, filled with myth & fairy-tales. Alan ("A.F." aka "Bird") Casline followed with "The Show Caves of Central Pennsylvania" dedicating it to the late Allen Hoey (1952 - 2010). W.D. Clarke's ballad for the night was "The Witness" inspired by a famous photo of a Western shoot-out.

This was the "almost" debut reading of Jill Crammond Wickham (she was featured in July at Live from the Living Room) & she still thought of it as her first time, as girls often do. Those of us who have been hearing Jill read at open mics know of her twinned themes of marriage & suburban living, & we got a generous dose tonight, from the Anne Sexton-inspired "June Cleaver Breaks Down Calls a Caterer," to suburban Moms finding it where they can ("Love Poem from the Produce Section"), & "Behind the Scenes at Dick & Jane's," on to the "Origin of Marriage" on how her parents met, & the similar "On the Other Side of the Hollow Tree You are Not a Bird But a Bride." She also discussed some alternatives, such as "How to Join the Circus" & "Why I Have Abandoned Motherhood In Hopes of Running a Brothel & Being Called Madam." Another conceit she likes to use is turning into poems the things she hears wrong, as in "The Husband Renames Himself Everyman & Reclaims His Voice," "In the Telling of an Anecdote the Wife Remembers It is a Story She Made Up" (sex birth death), & "Buying Tilapia from a One-Eyed Fish Monger." "The A to Zs of Marriage" was an alphabet poem, as was her concluding poem, "You Get a Note from the Dry Cleaner : Your Costume is Ready to Be Picked Up…" which she read with her partner-in-crime,
Carolee Sherwood with whom she co-wrote the poem on Facebook. Lots of fun, sex & word play, twisting of cliches & common phrases -- & her hair was perfect.

After the break I continued the themes from my point of view with my poem, "Anne Sexton," then on to the rest of the open mic with Bob Sharkey & his poem "Actions Prouder Than Words," disappointed with Obama. Sally Rhoades danced to the mic with "High Velocity Dancing." A regular here, Moses Kash III brought me close to tears by reading my poem "Africa" -- Thank You Moses!! The poet who call herself "Screamer" (Amy Fortin) had shown up at Valentine's after months/years away from the scene & tonight read a dog-rant, "Ramblings of Insomnia on a Rainy Day." Anthony Bernini got away from his Thursday golf group to read "The Exiles." Then ending with Bless meditating on the yin & yang of "The Perfect Life."

Every Third Thursday, in Albany, NY at 33 Central Ave. at the Social Justice Center, 7PM sign-up, 7:30 start, always a feature & open mic for poets.

August 18, 2010

Half Moon Books, August 13

This is the occasional series run by Rebecca Schumejda out of the Half Moon Books in artsy Uptown kingston. Tonight there were 4 quite different poets, but evenly split over the gender divide, half local, half visiting.

Phillip Levine, host of the Woodstock Poetry Society readings, read first, with old work that he is in the process of revising, specifically his theatrical performance piece "Approximate Poet Falls in Love & Can't Get Up." This is an extended piece composed of poetic vignettes that I've seen staged, most memorably a few years back, with his (about to be ex-) wife at Caffe Lena. Hearing him read it tonight made me think of some of the lines from Samuel Beckett's plays. The poems are whimsical, romantic, & I look forward to hearing it "redux" so to speak.

Teresa M. Costa is the host of the reading series at the Bohemian Book Bin on the 2nd Thursday of each month. After Becky "improvised" (i.e. made up) Teresa's bio, Teresa read a series of mostly short poems, from an issue of Chronogram, then from her chapbook, and from the manuscript of a new chapbook she is working on, "Creature Comforts." Her poems come from the largely rural world around her & included a couple about the herbs in her garden, but also about work ("Print Shop," "Hell on Earth"), sex, & love (the tender poem to her husband, "While You Are I Am").

Puma Perl is from NYC, which you get immediately as she reads her raw, urban journal poetry, out of the beat & punk traditions. Most of the poems she read were from her book Knuckle Tattoos (erbacce-press, Liverpool, UK). As expected there were lots of drug & hangover references, as well as pop-star cameos, like Lou Reed, the Rolling Stones, Liza Minelli, even Dame Judith Dench. But in one of the rare non-NYC poems, "The Ava Gardner Museum" (North Carolina) she doesn't even stop in, imaging the gift shop as she misses the exit. She ended with a piece from her new manuscript, "Poems from a Bad Girl," & suddenly her companion Big Mike jumped up from the audience to participate in the poem's name-calling argument, a thrilling bit of theater.

I had crossed paths with John Dorsey at the Connecticut Beat Poetry Festival a couple of years ago, & this night he was passing through from his home in Toledo, Ohio on a poetry tour with friends. His poems tend to have clever, catchy titles, such as "The Vanilla Ice Age," "Love in the Language of Howling Dogs," & "The Night My Heart Threw an Emo Dance Party," as does his new chapbook, Sodomy is a City in New Jersey (American Mettle Books), a good marketing device to wake the reader up, & they frequently end with a clever punch line. In the middle they are built around an equally clever image or smoke-induced image. Unfortunately, every poem was read in exactly the same way, a shouting rant derived from the worst slam style with rising emphasis on the last word in each line. For one or two poems it could have worked but not for all 10 -- at least he's stopped rocking back & forth as he did when he read in Connecticut.

Keep on the lookout for announcements about this series but expect it to continue to have the same eclectic mix of local & visiting poets to test your poetic attention.

August 13, 2010

Live from the Living Room, August 11

This is always what some call an "intimate" gathering of poets -- tonight it couldn't get more intimate (unless we took off our clothes & had sex on the plush furniture of the Gay & Lesbian Community Center) since there were only 2 poets (not including the definitely-a-poet host, Don Levy), Tony "the intern" Geras with his camera & notebook, & no featured poet this month.

Since I beat the only other sign-up to the Center, I got to go first! Don had suggested a summer theme, so I pulled out a mixed bag, from last year's "Summer in California," to the really old (late 1980s) "Spice Rack," to the Gloucester beach inspired "Poems About Poetry."

The other sign-up was Carolee Sherwood, back from the beach herself. She read a poem from a series of letter-poems to her friend Beth, this about death, then "Perfume from a Dress", based on a line from Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," only more hopeful, & on to the apocalyptic "Once the Men were Gone." I think most of these poems (if not all) can be found by wandering around her website.

The same is true for the poems read by our genial host, Don Levy, where you can find him living on Facebook. His "Smear the Queer" takes on homophobia & intolerance & bullying, while "Brave New Google" is an almost-scary commentary on the takeover of everything by Google, and the recently posted on Facebook "Kiss my AARP: to the Class of 1978" ponders getting old too quick.

Tony took pictures & later the four of us had a wide-ranging discussion of Albany, poetry, along with dollops of gossip & sour cream (for the quesadilla) at DeJohn's. But it's not usually like this, usually there is a featured poet, but the setting remains relaxed & straight-friendly at the GLCC on Hudson Ave. in Albany, NY 2nd Wednesday of the month, 7:30PM.

August 5, 2010

Caffe Lena, August 4

My father used to say, often, "You win some, you lose some, some get rained out." That's a great description of poetry open mics. The operative word is "open:" anyone can walk off the street & say they have a "poem." This also applies to your academic/MFA poets who occasionally come down out of the tower & say they have a "poem." Ultimately "art" is what anybody wants it to be, & entertainment is anything that, well, "entertains". As my mother would say, "One man's [sic] trash is another man's treasure." Or as my First Sergeant in the Army would say, "You pay your dues & you take your chances." I guess I should know, with all the open mics I go to, let alone the Third Thursday open mic I've been running since 1997, I pay my bucks at the door & who knows what will happen.

Our host, Carol Graser, began with a poem by Joy Harjo at the Kitchen Table as the center of the Universe. Later after the break she read her own poems about a neighbor's house burning down, & her what she called "obligatory oil-spill poem" "Oil Giant Apologizes for Spill".

The featured poet was Richard Levine, who read as is the pattern here, after a few open mic poets, followed by a break, then more open mic poets. He read from the forthcoming That Country's Soul (Finishing Line Press), with poems from his earlier chapbook, A Language Full of Wars and Songs (Pollack Press, 2004) sandwiched in between. The poems from the earlier book were about his experience, and the aftermath of his experience, in Viet Nam, while the new book contained the Nature poems of a Brooklyn guy now living "upstate" in the woods. Many with literary epigraphs, some dealt with the garden, both real & biblical, such as "Believe This," while others came from walking in the woods (the linked poems "Beauty" & "Not the Thing"), or from confronting the changes in Nature over time, as in "Near Extinction," "You Don't Miss Your Water" (based on clichés) & "Parting with Distance." He also included a villanelle he rarely reads that is in the voice of an owl, "Owl Creek Credo."

Scattered throughout the open mic portion of the evening were a handful of first-timers. Billy is only 7-years old & practically hidden by the music stand & mic read a piece (among others) with sound effects, "Everything I Hear in the Spring" that later inspired the featured poet to read his owl poem. Mary Robilito read a dragon/sex poem (does that count as a "Nature" poem?). Tim Snyder rides with the Patriot Guard Riders & read about the funeral of a young (aren't they all?) soldier killed in Afghanistan, another about bikers being potential crow food, & one about picking up a woman in a bar in Glens Falls. Brittany read a wish poem (which was a sub-theme of the night) & another about her Beatle-geek fiance.

The other poets included A.C. Everson, back after a year, with a poem about the beach at North Truro, "Sunrise Scene." Before he read his own poem, "I Never Heard Buddy Bolden Say…", Jason Crane paid tribute to last months's guest host, the vacationing Carolee Sherwood by reading her poem "Spill" ("obligatory oil-spill poem" -- maybe we could plug the hole in the BP well will all the poems that have been written about it?)

I included a couple August poems, one on horses & the other Tom Nattell's "Hiroshima." W.D. Clarke's tongue-in-cheek poems were about food. George Fisher lost me in his words in "Grand Central." Bob Sharkey's "War Comes Home" was about water guns, & his erasure poem ("Made Marble by Jazz") based on Michael Ondaatje's novel Coming Through Slaughter made me think of William S. Burrough's Last Words of Dutch Schultz. Richard Cowles, performing as "The Poet Who Survived 2009" started a sub-theme on wishes with his piece on being careful what you wish for. So Barbara Garro read her wish piece, "Love's Wonderings" first. A couple performers made us laugh, such as Ellen Finn's love poem & her obligatory oil spill poem (plug it with a giant tampon!), & Austin Halpern-Graser who did "stand-up" (we could tell because he wasn't sitting down.)

One of the great on-going poetry open mic series in the area, every first Wednesday at historic Caffe Lena, Phila St., Saratoga Springs, NY, 7:30PM (7:00PM sign-up).

August 4, 2010

Albany Poets Present!, August 3

At the moist Tropic of Valentines, with our host Thom (el presidente) Francis, some new poets, some regulars & some erstwhile regulars, even some "real audience" (just came to listen, not read). But this reading is going to the dogs.

Black Titanium was a new face, with powerful recited/free-style pieces, the first with spooky images of people beamed up from 145th Street in NYC to upstate Correctional facilities that seemed to run out of gas rather than stop, then a more romantic piece on his vision of a Mystery Lady, ending with the powerful flash-back, "Black Panther." I had the task of following him, with the old poem "Physics" (for Bern Porter, & for the 65th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima), then the recent "Poeming." Avery read 2 poems that I said later were the first I've heard on the topic of mosh-pits, "Driven by the Crunch" (with its yoga terminology) & "Love in the Pit," both generating conversation later at the bar.

I had run into "Screamer" hanging outside the bar, nice to see her back at the open mics after years, & she read from her notebook, "Dog is my Co-Pilot," an homage to her dog (that Lilly particularly loved), then on to the prosaic rant, "How I Feel About Marriage" (me too Amy, & I've been there twice!).
 Still another new poet, who was sitting, sweating at his laptop before coming up, Joe Maggio, started with a poem about his grandparents loving arguing, then on to a poem from his days as a social worker, "We're All Children Aren't We?" and ended with a philosophical discussion with a wild dog in "A Friend Well-Made."

Clearly the night was going quickly to the dogs, & all these dog poems were too much for Lilly who was compelled to take the stage to perform what I an only surmise to be her perplexed dog version of people's dog poems, at least that was my interpretation. Keith Spencer followed with "The Lion Sleeps," an older, quieter lion now than the version The Tokens made famous. Thom Francis thought he was ending the night with a reprise of the poem he read at Keith's open mic last month, "Paper Messiah…"

Then as we were congratulating ourselves on a reading-well-done, up pops Chris Rizzo, just back from the huge Boston Tea Party reading with an untitled series of non-sequiturs, with the memorable repeated line, "Never trust a woman named Portia." Quite a night of dog (& non-dog) poetry.

Every 2nd Tuesday at Valentines on New Scotland Ave., in Albany, 8PM, sometimes it's real, sometimes it's less-than (or more-than) real. Whatever.

Poets in the Park, July 31

As it used to say in the Uncle Wiggly story books, "If the Mr. Ding-a-ling ice cream truck doesn't stop at the poetry reading & drown out the words of the poet with a tinkling version of "Fur Elise" I will bring you the story of the last Poets in the Park." Actually, reality was much stranger, as it often is, as you will see in a moment. Tonight the series came to a close with Susan Deer Cloud & Guy Reed, with good weather, a lovely audience, & my parking spot saved for me.

Susan Deer Cloud started with the poem "Marlon Brando Dies at 80" for his work supporting native people & his general contrariness towards the Hollywood power structure. But right in the middle of the poem, a woman wandered up to the Burns statue, parked her grocery cart, gave Susan a hug & a kiss, then wandered off again. At which point 2 Albany police officers who seemed to have been watching her from their cars, came up to the woman & quietly placed her in custody in handcuffs, put her in one car, her grocery cart in the other, & off they went. Susan continued on, & the incident was a prescient link to her next poem, "Car Stealer" the title poem of her book (FootHills Publishing) about a rebel boy in her youth. This she followed with an effusive dream poem about Bethel & the Woodstock Festival. Her poem "Sugar Daddy" is included in the first volume of I Was Indian: an Anthology of Native Literature that she edited for FootHills Publishing. A long, pensive love poem "Waking To Rain I Think of You" took us into her waking bedroom, then she ended with what she called her happy poem, her Chinese poem, "Happy Man," read barefoot & encouraged us to be barefoot too, as many of us did.

Guy Reed began by taking off his shoes too for his first time reading in Albany, first time outside, & a poem just written today, "July 31", pondering the death of Michael Allen White, a15 year old son of a co-worker, killed in an accident. Then a short poem by Jack Gilbert on grief. "Born Late" was about words, worn out with Time, needing new letters, new words. There were love poems ("The Body Falling in Love"), some so short they flit by like bluebirds ("My Beth"), & poems on the birth of his daughters ("Baby Rose" & "Sadie of the Lilacs"), or "How to Paint Like a Five-Year-Old," a political/terrorist dream poem, "4th of July," which became a meditation on his belief in whatever god/the spirit is, a list/rant of causes, slogans ("Two for One"), & discovering melancholia in the 3rd grade ("October Grey"). He ended with "Still Life with Acorn," a poem about poems & being overtaken by real life.

So that was it as the sunlight faded to dark for Poets in the Park for 2010, a great gathering of poets & poet-listeners at the Robert Burns statue in Albany's Washington Park. Thank you Hudson Valley Writers Guild for co-sponsoring with a grant that enabled us to bring in some poets from beyond the region, thank you people of Albany for being there as part of Whitman's "great audience." And as they say in the Uncle Wiggly books, "If global warming doesn't melt the ice-caps & floods Washington Park so that the Robert Burns statue becomes a home for carp & eel, we will back next year with more Poets in the Park."

May the Muse be with you.

August 2, 2010

Poets in the Park, July 24

The third in this year's series, I planned this program specifically with the National Peace Conference, being held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel this weekend, in mind. The poets were 2 generations of Army veterans, Thomas Brinson, who had served in Viet Nam, & Tamara Gabbard, who served recently in Afghanistan. Thomas has read in Albany at open mics & at the Sanctuary for Independent Media last Veterans Day with me & with Dayl Wise (in the audience tonight), & has a chapbook of poems, Love and War, out from Post Traumatic Press of Woodstock, NY. Tamara read at open mics in Albany some years ago, including at the Lark Street Bookshop, & currently was part of the crew arranging the "Heavy!" art exhibit at the former St. Joseph's Cathedral in Albany, & is organizing the group art exhibit, "Convergence," in NYC.

Thomas Brinson began by saying that poetry has been the primary way for him to survive battle & "the never-ending results of battle," & read a short speech from the movie "Platoon" by way of introduction. Written in Viet Nam in 1967-68, "Patriotic Pondering" considered what he was doing there. He read some poems from his chapbook, also from the same time: "One Precious Event" was a brief moment of tenderness in war, then "Stark Memory" & "War Is Over For Me." Two poems contrasted a portrait of a (male) soldier with his rifle ("Six O'Clock News 1968") with a sequel written 35 years later "Six O'Clock News 2" about a woman soldier cleaning her weapon. The Long autobiographical poem "War Person" written 1983 traces how he came to be, haunted by war from childhood. Then, as a peacemaker in war-torn Sri Lanka he sees that, maddeningly, war is still going on ("Entrenching Tool"). Even a victory parade for his team, the NY Giants, turns to a meditation of entertainment versus the reality of war. He continued on with "Portents" then "Pleiku Jacket" & ended in the tears of the last lines of a poem written in April, interacting with a sculpture in Woodstock, "Metal Statue Alone in the Field" (made by a Viet Nam vet who has died of the effects of poisoning from Agent Orange.

Tamara Gabbard began with a tribute to Hunter S. Thompson, "Fear & Loathing: an Abstract Interpretation" on the power of words, then read a kind of journal entry, about herself, looking for herself. Since this is the park, the outside world often intrudes, fire-engines, motorcycles. Tonight it was a Mr. Ding-a-Ling ice cream truck just as Tamara began her poem "War Child," about the children she saw in Afghanistan, & the need for peace. Other poems from her experience in Afghanistan included "Fall" (from a Blog she wrote) but no trees, & playing on the word, & description of the country and ending in mayhem, & the descriptive & philosophical "This is the War." A recent poem was on walking meditation with the great advice, "Chill while you stroll." "Playa España" was a descriptive piece about connecting with Nature, then a love, longing poem written while mingling with her thoughts & drinking wine ("It's Late"). She came back to end with a poem about herself, about Life, "A Wrinkle in Time." A very touching & moving reading, even if it was, as she said, in no particular order.

We can never predict what will happen when we are reading in the Park, but at least the weather has been cooperating so far, & we've been ending just as "Annie Get Your Gun" starts over at the Park Playhouse & the poets prevailed.