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.

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