September 6, 2010

Caffe Lena Open Mic, September 1

It may be September, but it's still racing season: had to fight for parking, the Adelphi Hotel bar crowded with the horsey set, but it didn't affect the good quality of poetry at the monthly open mic. Our host, Carol Graser, began with an excerpt of a poem by Muriel Rukeyser.

Margaret Bryant led off the night with 2 poems from her book, Aligning Stems, which came out in March, "Rush Hour" & another on a young girl, a refugee of the Cuban Revolution. Alan Catlin (the first of the night's "birthday poets") said he was trying to bring "the bar & poetry closer" (hmm, seems like many poets spend too much time too close to a bar), with a poem mentioning Sartre ("People") then another poem about a bar it sounds like one should avoid, "The Hole." Todd Fabozzi read 2 from his second book, Crossroads, the political satire, "A Token of Gratitude" & a poem on his Italian heritage to honor our featured poet (Nancy Nenofio), "Blood." Barbara Garro's poems deconstructed what the vacuous comments really mean in a poetry critique group. Carole Kenyon had only one poem, "Peace Soldier Paradox."

The featured poet, Nancy Duci Nenofio, read from her new collection of poems, What Brought You Here? (Limited Editions Press, 2010), an attractive book with both color & black & white illustrations, some her own family photographs. And some of the poems she read tonight were family memories as well, such as "The Corner Yard" (1950, she said) & "At the Bus Stop - 1956." But memory plays a big part in the other poems she read tonight as well, "You Asked Me to Dance," "What Brought You Here," "A Red Light Warms a Soul," "The Carnival," "Dancing in the Sunlight," and "Roses on a Pillow." Ask for her book in your local independent bookstore.

After a break, Carol Graser returned us to the open mic, reading one of her own fine poems from The Wild Twist of Their Stems (FootHills Publishing, 2007), "Children's Concert in Congress Park." It was also A.C. Everson's birthday, but instead of one of her own poems, she read the lyrics to Leonard Cohen's "Everybody Knows." This was Rachel Grace Willen's first time here (did I hear she was from Idaho?), her poem "Judging Eyes" full of teen angst about others making hasty judgments; then the long titled poem I mostly missed, "From My Current Vantage Point…" (as seen from the window of a speeding car). D. Alexander Holiday took a bit longer than anyone else (the rule is 2 short poems or 1 medium to long poem) with a long piece from Juan Felipe Herrera, then 2 of his own poems from his memoir In the Care of Strangers.

A rare mother-daughter sequence followed with Lorraine Grund (who had read here sometime in the past) going first, with a driving poem, "Sing & Don't Cry" followed by "Scattered Stars Outshine the Moon." She was followed by her daughter Angelina Grund with a poem about her grandmother, "Open Your Eyes." Josh McIntyre followed with 2 short poems, "Leaks" pairing pens & faucets, & the quiet domestic love poem that I like, "Fasting."

Carolee Sherwood was back with a relationship poem (big surprise) written in March playing off a mine collapse, then an uncharacteristically gentle untitled (love?) poem. I followed with just one, an old piece "For Allen Grindle's Crows." Jason Crane's first poem was about baking a cake & following the directions, then watching a poem read "Barefoot."

It is always a thrill to see a poet read for her or his first time, & that was Joanne Mitchum tonight, with a memory poem , "Tattered & Torn," then one about a wife writing to her husband in the military describing their child's "First Words." The Poet with Nothing Left to Lose (aka Richard Cowles) did a very short "Spam" then a piece on the poet William Bronk. Brittany Aston's poem written in the hospital, "I Am," asserted herself against the world, while her second piece was an apology to her friends. Ellen Finn first read a very short story written by her Aunt about Ellen when she was 3 years old, then read her own poem based on the story, from her point of view. Our last poet of the night, Gary Yaeger brought us home with one of Robert Service's ballads.

Another varied & interesting open mic night at historic Caffe Lena -- first Wednesdays, 7:30PM, on Phila St. in Saratoga Springs, NY.

1 comment:

Julia Cates said...

I like all poems written by Barbara Garro. He is very great poet.
Thanks for share
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