December 3, 2010

Caffè Lena Open Mic, December 1

Our host, Carol Graser, started off the night with a tender, mother-poem by Naomi Gutman, "Milk Muse." In spite of the wind & the rain, there were quite a few poets in the house, a number from Albany & the feature, Rebecca Schumejda all the way from Kingston, NY.

The first open mic poet was Carol Kenyon with a poem in fun rhymes on her love of crazy dancing, "5th Planet Hoe-Down," then one about listening to "The Wind." In recognition of World AIDS Day I read my audience-participation political rant, "Labels & Names" ("You think they're the same, labels belong on bottles, people have names…"). Then one of the young volunteers, HHC, read a couple of poems apparently inspired by his Beat heroes, one poem titled "Home," the other about a character he met in the Library. The fine local poet we hadn't seen in awhile, Mary Kathryn Jablonski, read next with one of her lunar seas poems, "Mare Frigoris" then "What Remains" with its compelling image of Florence & mosquitos. Charles Watts read the second political poem of the night, "The Muse of Crawford Contemplates Retirement," & then his reflections on "Autumn in Lake Placid."

Rebecca Schumejda coordinates a poetry series at Half Moon Books in Kingston (I've been featured there). She began with a number of poems as character studies from her manuscript, "Cadillac Men, the Pool Hall Poems," from the time she & her husband ran a pool hall. Some she read were, like the title "The Regulars at Crazy 8s," about the patrons, "Table of Truth," & "Going Out for Ice Cream." But others took on broader subjects, such as a woman's self-image ("On withThis Sad Day"), her daughter's "First Step" in the pool hall, & husband ("Too Late in the Game"). She also read a couple selections from her book Falling Forward (sunnyoutside), & some from The Map of Our Garden (Verve Bath Press). She ended with a bouquet of more garden poems from a new collection, "A Row for Sinners," including "Sunflowers in Winter," "Disembodied Gardening" (on finding a doll's body in the soil), & the love poem "Habaneros," among others. I confess to being a big fan of Rebecca's poetry & look forward to reading the new poems in her next books.

After the break, Carol Graser was back with one of her own poems, an untitled piece, a "road poem" of sorts. Nancy Denofio read a long piece, in the voice of a 13 year old boy, she said, trying to be thankful while war rages on. Gordon Hayman's first poem was on remembering the cold days of fishermen, in rhyme, then another poem on being at an auction. Jason Crane's "Thanksgiving Poem" had him playing chess & talking (turkey?) to Ronald the turkey; then he was joined by Carolee Sherwood in "Other Than That Mrs. Lincoln," a neatly interwoven poem. Carolee stayed on stage to read (from her iPad) a list poem of clichés, "Like a Fish Needs a Bicycle," & poked fun at herself & her "relationship poems" with "Dear Reader." Jill Wickham's November poem was "Blame the Dressmaker," then she pondered the ways of nuns in "Right or Wrong" (but those headpieces would ruin her perfect hair).

W.D. Clarke's seasonal poem, "A Christmas Tale," was the story, in rhyme of course, of a boyhood attempt to catch Santa. Frank Weaver's poems were from his manuscript, the first on bow hunting, the second, "Atlantis" compared being in love with someone you can't have (I have no idea what that's like!) with the mythical city. Josh McIntyre's poem "Red Eye" paid tribute, of sorts, to Black Friday, then read the short & to the point, "In Tune." Barbara Garro considered the "Dream State," & wrote about the affects on a foster child in "Scars."

Alan Catlin's "Extended Family Christmas Shopping" was a wild ride with a team of shoplifters, & his poem "Lady Bowlers in the Lounge" which he described as "a bartender's nightmare," engendered a lot of discussion among the ladies in the back of the room. Gary Yager seems to be always last on the list, then just couldn't find the poem he wanted to read, until after he had read 2 others, all by the English poet Alfred Noyes.

By the time we left the rain had stopped, the wind had died down, & the poetry kept us warm, all the way home.

Historic Caffe Lena on Phila St. in Saratoga Springs -- every first Wednesday, 7:00PM sign-up, 7:30 start, $3 donation.

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