December 28, 2010

Sunday Four Poetry, December 26

Back up to Voorheesville, a warm center of poetry, with today's featured poet, Howard Kogan, but first time for some open mic poets, introduced by Edie Abrams.

I was first & began with Enid Dame's "Holiday Poem," my favorite for this time of year, then my own for the fading of the light, "What Happens in Autumn," written in October. Alan Casline began by talking about a "Michael McClure line I found while climbing the 10 mountains," that I thought was a title for a poem, then I missed the line, oh well. His poem was a meditative piece on a falling leaf, then what he called a "creation myth poem, "Double Tree" & ended with a poem titled (I think) "Carl Young's Benevolent Bird" (or was that Karl Jung?); anyway, Hiawatha made his way into it too.

Dennis Sullivan talked a little about the work & the death of the poet Deborah Digges, then read his poem dedicated to her, "Ode to the Long Walk Up the Stadium Stairs;" "Ode to Darkness" was dedicated to his sister, then he explored a different kind of "darkness" in "A Room's Made Just for You."

Dan Ornstein was the first of the afternoon's 2 new poets, & he began with a rush hour portrait, "Penn Station Eatery;" next a take-off from Robert Frost with "The Book Not Purchased," then the sonnet, "Sinner Sermon."

Edie Abrams read just one, untitled poem, about the pillar of salt (& defiance) in the desert that had been Lot's wife. As she finished, & was about to introduce the featured poet, she noticed someone come in & asked him if he wanted to read too.

So Sterling Post, the second new person of the afternoon, came up to read 2 poems, the first about the sights & sounds of his "Neighborhood," the second, "Until the Work is Done" with a number of references to Buddhism.

Howard Kogan hadn't been to Voorheesville for the poetry before he entered the Smith's Tavern Poet Laureate Contest last April, & ended up as one of the runners up. Today's selection of poems was a mix of poignant tenderness & humor & tenderness. He began with 2 companion pieces about a woman contemplating losing her husband ("The Community of Old Women") & a man alone who has lost his spouse ("The Isolation of Old Men"). In "Echo" he confounds the technician doing an echocardiogram by imagining himself as a whale. The stories in "Visiting for Jehovah," "Heroic Companions," & "Nuns in Motion" were funny in a laugh-out-loud way, vivid images & stories well told. The poet pondered eternity in "The Rabbi is Annoyed" & a Memorial Day party was amused by the mating of "Tree Swallows." A late night conversation in bed became "On Reading Poe Late at Night," & following the old adage to "leave them laughing," he ended with more humor in "3 Jokes in Science." Howard's poems are written in a relaxed conversational tone, well-suited both for the humor & for the deeper, more philosophical considerations. And almost a Poet Laureate.

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