December 30, 2010

Things You Won't Die From (List Pome #723)

                  but Love will make you want to
                  but Art is a deadly passion
                  but the wrong words in the wrong place can
                  but then there is always Darkness
                  but too much Sunshine will
                  but someday they will surround your grave
                  unless they fall on you
                  unless your dream is of Death
                  but wrong notes can kill a career
                  but they can make you wish you had
                  except for the last one
Love ?
                   – but I already said you would

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.

December 27, 2010

Third Thursday Poetry Night, December 16

Before we even began we began with someone wandering in from the street to improv a love poem, then to wander back out into the night -- life in the big city.

& then time for the annual visit from Sanity Clause with presents for all the bad poets who read in the open mic. But first I read Enid Dame's "Holiday Poem" to invoke the true spirit of the season -- a great poet gone from us too soon.

First up was Jason Crane with a poem he dedicated to me, called "Prophecy" invoking Ornette Coleman (& which he presented to me framed as an Xmas present (thanks, Jason!). Julie Lomoe's poem was "Entropia," whom she called the goddess of disorder; one of the minority of women in the audience to get to have the fun of sitting on Sanity Clause's lap.

Josh McIntyre read a short poem, "Rattle & Hum," with "the impossible is always near." Beatriz Loyola brought us the gift of multi-lingual poetry, reading "Discontinuidad" by Ulalume Gonzalez, a Mexican poet originally from Uruguay, watching a bird, & wolf in winter; Beatriz alternated reading a stanza in melifluous Spanish with the English translation. Alan Casline's poem "In & Out of Dutch" also brought in Winter images. Barry Goldman hadn't been around for a while & was back with more Winter sights, of crows in the city, "The Wind Weaving the Minds of Crows."

Tonight's featured poet, Ed Rinaldi, brought out his poems he has been writing since June, when he left Facebook & started using Google-chat to text his poems to others. Many of these seem longer than the poems he had brought out earlier in the year to open mics. He began with a poem titled with a word he made up, the surreal "Doppleganglitis," then on to the equally surreal cultural commentary with "Listening in the Wind for the Zombie Vanguard." He followed his "inner-beatnik" with the "Scratchy Epic 45 Pause with Cigarette & Beer," one image-thought following another, then a tender poem about his son beating him in whiffle ball. A poem on marriage & relationships had a long title that faded into the poem itself, just like his images & word clusters, as did the word play of "Hallowed Eves." He ended with what he called an "inner-hippy poem," "Chasing Butterflies in the Basil" (not the kind of herb you would expect a hippy to be romping through). Even the featured poet got to sit on Sanity Clause's lap, tell what a bad boy he has been, then get a gift of a poetry journal.

After the break, I continued with new poem from November, "Fast & Slow" based on an art & poetry exhibit at Sage College, with pictures created by children in Ha Noi. Alan Catlin said he was channeling the 1960's with a poem about John Lennon & the Beatles "It Was 40 Years Ago Today," based on a story told by a NYC cop about guarding the Fab 4 during their NY visit. Don Levy read "Meeting Ginsberg" from his series of memoir-poems centered around the QE2. Bob Sharkey's "Names" was a funny crescendoing string of the names he has been called throughout his life. Moses Kash III tried to sell the last copy of one of his many self-made collections, for the bargain price of $25. or $50. or whatever he could get, then shared with us one of the poems from the book, "I'm Just a Black Man." Sylvia Barnard was further down the list than usual; she read the seasonal poem on "The Messiah" (& claimed she started teaching Latin so long that when she started it wasn't a dead language).

Daniel Nester did the "annoying thing" (his words) & read from his laptop, "Bob & Tom's Fish Fry" composed from sentence-combining sheets like those he uses with his students, a rambling autobiography; he was also one of the most enthusiastic & inappropriate lap-sitters. Avery Stemple read from Carl Solomon's book, in honor of the movie "Howl" being shown in Albany. Bless was our "ultimate" (i.e., last) poet, with his poem, "Complacency," which he "flow-wrote," so by the time he finished it it was memorized, seeing his old streets in New York.

Check my Flickr! site for more photos of all the bad poets on the lap on Sanity Clause.

December 17, 2010

Contemplatio Mortis

There is a day each year that will be carved
on my tombstone, printed in my obituary
the unknown bookend to my birthday
the future anniversary of my death.
A day that if we knew we would celebrate
each year, raise our wine, our beer to toast
to waking the next day until that year we didn’t.

December 15, 2010

BookMarks: The Memoir Project Reading Series, December 13

"Siblings" was the theme for the third in this series at the Arts Center in Troy. Each reading has a different theme & is "curated" by a different woman (whoops, except the first one that I, a definite male, coordinated). Tonight's curator was Marion Roach Smith, who teaches memoir workshops at the Arts Center. It was mostly a reading of prose memoir, all women writers, with a lone poet making her second appearance in the series.

The first writer was Tina Lincer with "The Visit" from a longer work, "Confessions of a Reluctant Sister." Like most of what followed, it was a straight-forward telling of a family vignette. In this piece the narrator fights with with her mother & sister while making an apple pie.

Megan Galbraith's piece "Letter to My Younger Sister" was exactly that, an actual letter she wrote to her sister to give her life-advice about men, philosophical & big-sisterly.

Tanya Daniel's narrative, "My Brother, My Hero, My Guardian Angel," was a piece of direct family history & tribute, but marred by an overt religious/inspirational message of tenuous value to the story.

Mary Judd was the most seasonal with "Elfster and the Law of Attraction." Another real-life family story about drawing the name you least want on a gift-exchange website, with the new Age-y message of "think positive."

The night's lone poet was Leslie B. Neustadt whose poem to her sister, "Our Stories," showed how imagination infusing the memoir can turn a pedestrian story to art (& as Allen Ginsberg once wrote, "Maximum information, minimum number of syllables").

Similarly, Jennifer E. O'Brien, in her prose memoir "Penn Station," used an imaginative device of seeing but not meeting a brother she had not yet met to add emotional depth to what could have been a plain telling of a family story.

The last reader, Diane Cameron, wrote about the death of her brothers by weaving in the image of the Easter Bunny & her sick & dying brothers, as specific as teeth marks on the handles of her Easter basket, making an abstraction like "resurrection" alive in the image of a child's fantasy.

In between each reader, & at the end in a sort of summary, Marion Roach Smith interjected her own commentary on the writing, the themes, the techniques of each writer. I have my own way of doing things (cf. the reading I hosted here in this series in October), but none of this night's writing was so esoteric that one needed a guide to know where it was going, what the writers were saying. In fact, at times it seemed that Marion was conducting a class & telling us what to think. I prefer to let the work speak for itself.

Speaking of which, or not, there are 4 more readings in this series. You can find the schedule at the Arts Center website, as well as listings of classes & other events.

December 13, 2010

Poetry + Prose Open Mic, December 12

The series continues, with Nancy Klepsch & me as the hosts, with an eclectic mix of area writers.

First up was Jason Crane with 2 poems, "Rom-Com," a sort of the grass is greener in someone else's relationship, & a consideration of the Japanese poet, "Ah, Bashō, Who Were You Really?" Kate Laity was back with an excerpt from a short story published in an anthology from the UK, looking at Rothko, but more.
This was David Wolcott's first reading, having only been writing since this summer, with a selection from a prose piece, "Addiction." Richard Morell has recently published a collection of poems called Doom Sonnets (Troy Book Makers), from which he read #1, then a long piece in progress, "Gifts I've Received from My Father" (who died earlier this year).

Carol Jewell loves to write pantoums & read one about her cat. Joe Krausman read 2 poems combining seeds & words, "Becoming Something Else" & "Word Seeds" (with words as genes, chromosomes, a gentler version of William S. Burroughs "word is virus"). Ron Drummond's dream-like prose piece (or was it 2 run together?) started off with a woman harvesting menstrual blood for her garden, then to a woman writing.

My co-host, Nancy Klepsch's first poem was "We Need an Army of Harveys," a work-in-progress, & then a poem on marriage, "A Handsome Woman." I stepped up next for just one holiday poem, "Christmas Eve, 1945."  Carolee Sherwood read 2 poems with titles ending in "-ge" (you can find them on her Blog), "Salvage" on remembering her past in a restaurant, & the ghost-filled "Vestige." Jill Crammond (whose hair was not-quite perfect) began with poem playing on "kind" & "prickly," "Santa's Secret Sale" & then "Marilyn Monroe & Jesus Meet on an Airplane" (how can you miss with a title like that?).

After Avery delivered his rant on the contradictions in out culture, "Drowning in Popular Culture," Nancy said members of Congress should be made to write it 100 times.

It's been a long time since I typed the name Jil Hanifan here in this Blog & it was good to see & hear her again; she read 2 poems on snow, "Blizzard," on the the kind of weather we hate (& dedicated to her sister, a mail-carrier in Syracuse), & on the beauty of new snow, "Snow Whales." Tim Verhaegen finished off the afternoon with a funny & poignant poem, "The Shirtless Guy on McHale's Navy."

This was the second time we gathered on the second Sunday at 2PM at the Arts Center of the Capital Region, 265 River St., in Troy, NY. And we plan to be back on the next second Sunday. Join us.

December 12, 2010


(This is an old poem that I like to read this time of year; I describe it as "a love poem to my mother.")

How I love your round belly, heavy
like a fruit cake beneath the tree.

You sit tucked in your flannel robe
deep in yourself in thought and dream.

The red and green and yellow lights
are reflected in your hair, your eyes.

You wait for me, feeling me
tumble, the weight growing larger

stretching you, changing you forever
floating there, nestled, like

the red and green and yellow candies
cooked in the moist sweetness of cake.

December 9, 2010

Live from the Living Room, December 8

It was a cold night outside in Albany but cozy in the Living Room of the Capital District Gay & Lesbian Community Center for the monthly straight-friendly poetry open mic, hosted by Don Levy.

The featured poet for the night was Cara Benson, who dedicated her reading to embattled folks in the Humanities at the NYS University at Albany, & to her sister, Donna. She began with a piece from Bharat Jiva by Kari Edwards (1954-2006). Cara's first, & longest, piece was titled "Spreek." It seemed to be made up of a number of sections on different themes &/or methods, incorporating quotes from V.I. Lenin & Madonna, using repetition, stutters, word lists, cliches, interrupted syllables, jumbled syntax, even a URL read character by character. Cara then read from her book, (made) (Book Thug), apparently flipping back & forth among sections, poems, linking them with the repetition of the refrain, "& the book begins…"

(The black & white photo is from September 2004 when Cara read in the open mic here, some of the same folks in the audience then as tonight.)

I started off the open mic, reprising "October Land" for Cara, then the recent "Looking for Cougars." Bob Sharkey read, as he is wont to do each Xmas season, Edna St. Vincent Millay's "To Jesus on His Birthday," then a bit in the voice of a homeless guy from his ongoing piece, "Discursive." W.D. Clarke brought us some of his rhyme in "The Christmas Tale," & "The Cheater" (those images of drain cleaner in a condom still make me wince).

A.C. Everson also had some rhymes for the season, reflections on shopping at the Mall & on her love of lawn decorations. Sylvia Barnard said her poems were "on weird scraps of paper" -- a dream poem of long-ago Albany, her piece in rhyme about the cuts to the Humanities programs at the University (including her job). Our affable host, Don Levy, concluded with 2 pieces from his ongoing poetic memoir of the QE2, "Iffy's" & "Meeting Ginsberg."

A relaxed, cozy, straight-friendly gathering on the 2nd Wednesday of each month at the GLCC on Hudson Ave. in Albany, NY. Bring some poems to read.

December 4, 2010

New York State Writers Institute -- Jena Osman, December 2

One of the few poets to read in this year's series, Jena Osman is the 2009 National Poetry Series winner for The Network published this year by Fence Books, which has its home at the Writers Institute.

Rebecca Wolff introduced the poet, describing The Network as "speculative;" the back of the book describes it as "at the intersection of conceptual and documentary poetics," which I found useful.

Jena Osman read from 2 sections of the book, "Mercury Rising (A Visualization)" & "Financial District." Both sections (in fact the entire book) contain the poet's amateur exploration of etymology, complete with errors & wrong steps. "Mercury Rising" explores/ponders the science of the element, as well as the development of the Greek & Latin gods, even incorporating both versions of the comic book super-hero, The Flash. I was also drawn to her use of the second person pronoun, wondering who is this "you" someone seems to be addressing, perhaps a middle ground between the subjective "I" & the objective "it," I wondered.

The second piece, "Financial District," is a mix of history of the NYC area, etymology & an interwoven, as she described it, "sci-fi narrative." This third part, printed in italics in the text, was what she read, which was perplexing on its own. Not sure how it connects to the financial district, though I did catch echoes to the Mercury piece in some of the images.

I bought the book so I could spend more time exploring this challenging work.

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.

December 2, 2010

Last Pome-a-day

[What I anticipated would be the last prompt for the pome/a/day November project from Writers Digest was not, but I had already written the poem (alternately, "I had already poemed"). Seems a shame to waste it in my battered workbook.  Sort of a half-sonnet.]


When the heart stops at the end
the breath stops, the words end
Poems don’t stand around the bed
Instead, it’s people standing like poems.

When the heart stops, hearts keep beating
those we made, those we have touched
keep beating for us when the words stop.

November 30, 2010

Poets Speak Loud, November 29

Mary Panza held the mic & our attention, whether we wanted it or not, for this monthly gathering, now at McGeary's on Clinton Square in Albany, NY (in the backroom so we don't offend anyone).

Carolee Sherwood was there early enough to get to sign up anywhere she wanted to on the list & she picked first!, read "On the Approach of Christmas"  & her response to the prompt to write an animal poem, "Madness (another "dead doe at the side of the road" poem).  Find them on her website.

Jason Crane read about the Australian detention camp, "Villawoods" & "It's Not Me It's You," both on his website.

My poems aren't on my website, & after months or years of making light of poetry prompts/pome-a-day projects I ate Crow & read 3 poems written this month, "What Really Happened" (Day 28), "Blame the Prompt" (Day 27) & "The Birds' Poem of Thanks" (Day 25) (but a couple of them are on my FaceBook Notes).

Tess Lecuyer had a hand-written version of her poem of light & love "Winter Solstice 1994" (when Mary Panza was her roommate).  (I couldn't resist using this photo even though it hides Tess' pretty face, sorry)

el presidente, Thom Francis brought us home with 2 new, just-written poems, "Space" ("…make your space…") & the good advice of "Write, Write."

This is where the last Monday of the month open mic, Poets Speak Loud!, has landed after the demise of the Lark Tavern, at McGeary's in Albany, NY near the Palace Theater, 7:30 PM. Come join us.

Sunday Four Poetry, November 28

A pleasant gathering of poets at the Old Songs Community Center in Voorheesville, NY.  Mike Burke did the intros.

I was first up & began with "Labels & Names," an audience-participation piece in recognition of World AIDS Day on December 1, then the new poem, "My Birds Poem of Thanks."  Tim Verhaegan's poems ranged from the reverential "Arthur's Ashes," to the screed "You Chose This," to the wonderfully funny "Wrestling with the Xmas Tree."  Mimi Moriarty said she had "3 poems with critters," a coyote & other natural things to name ("Science Student"), becoming a squirrel ("On My Deck"), & 2 dead squirrels on the same day ("Road Kill" -- the first of the day's road kill poems).  

Dennis Sullivan changed the tone with his philosophical meditations "Self-Portrait for Dr. Brody" & "As Cozy as the Homes in House Beautiful."

The "best-dressed poet" of the afternoon, Obeeduid (Mark O'Brien) read from his (not-always-cooperative) iPad, a couple outdoors poems, "Hilltop Visitation" (cf. Alan's poem later) & "Declination."  It was John W. Abbhul's first time here (he is the caretaker/manager of nearby Pine Hollow Arboretum), & contrasting himself with Mark, read a poem from a small slip of paper, "Spirit" just written this morning.  Therese Broderick referenced the bird poem I read & the Writers' Digest Poem-a-Day project for November by saying she's writing "a metaphor a day," then read 2 pieces composed of these metaphors strung together (isn't that what a poem is anyways, a series of metaphors strung together?).

Mike Burke invoked the droit de seigneur to insert himself in the mix before Tom Corrado, & because he will be in Mexico in February read the cold weather/cold heart poem "Valentine's Day."  Tom Corrado had read his poem "A History of the World in 4-Line Feeds" here before, but said it was an "assemblage" that he keeps adding to, so like a movie serial he read from where he left off the last time.  Howard Kogan returned to the philosophical meditation theme with an unbeliever's rant, "About God."

Alan Casline had fresh, just-off the press copies of The Rootdrinker Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, with poems (including a cluster of mine) originally published in the pages of the Rootdrinker Newsletter.  Check out his Blog for information on how to get a copy.   His poem "In Exile" was more philosophical pondering, from a literary conference in Buffalo, while "Loggerhead Rises from a Swamp" was from his walk in the woods with Mark (see above).

Joe Krausman's poem also fell into the philosophical pondering theme, but with ironic humor, the first on synchronicity & the randomness of chance meetings, the second on being prepared, with a pen, a gun, a hankie, a Bible, etc.  Sharon Stenson's poem "Roadkill" returned us to another them that Mimi had introduced.

Dennis Sullivan introduced this afternoon's featured poet, Marion Menna, by describing her poems as being about daily life, which was a good way to write my Blog for me.  While that is certainly an apt summary, there is more to her themes than that.  She began with her first published poem, from 1983, "Rarities," about beached whales.  Her poems are often vivid descriptions such as the Advent poem, "Catkins," & "Tsunami March 2010" & "The Dogs of Trinidad."  Continuing with the day's animal sub-theme, she had a new poem with geese on a prison yard, "Sanctuary" & another new poem, "Dislocation," with wild turkeys.  A couple poems included her son, & even a poem with nuns (in the Himalayas), "Quieting the Self."  She ended with a selection from her chapbook, An Unknown Country (Finishing Line Press).

I often (too often some would say) tell poets that if your friends & relatives don't come to your reading who will?  So to Marion's credit there were many friends from her writing group not only filling the audience but reading in the open mic, helping to make this a pleasant afternoon of poetry.

Fourth Sunday of most months, 3PM, The Old Songs Community Center, 37 S. Main St., Voorheesville, NY, a modest donation to pay the feature & support Old Songs.

November 26, 2010

Community of Writers, November 21

This was the 8th annual event at the Schenectady County Public Library, sponsored by the Hudson Valley Writers Guild. (Full disclosure: I've just been elected President of the Hudson Valley Writers Guild.) The event began & ended with book signings & sales by some of the afternoon's readers, & a chance for the audience to mingle.

The readers were a mix of poets, novelists & essayists, & began with Schenectady County's own Poet Laureate, Steve Hellyard Swartz reading a couple of breezy, chatty pieces, somehow mixing in Jackson Pollack & Dick Cheney in the same poem.

Margaret Bryant, who has been frequenting local open mics, was next with a reading of a selection of poems from her recently published chapbook, Aligning Stems (The Troy Book Makers), with a bit of a brogue slipping in during "Kate's Farewell."

The youngest reader, & newest to the area, Keziah Roselin, read a touching memoir piece about being in the airport as she left her family in Miami to move to this area.

Kathe Kokolias read an amusing piece about trying to celebrate Thanksgiving Day while in Mexico, from her forthcoming selection of memoir essays, What Time Do the Crocodiles Come Out? (The Troy Book Makers)

Tom Corrado read a string of his poems, the audience amused by the leaps of his lines, especially the homage to Schenectady in "A High of 51."

Rose Kent writes young adult fiction & children's novels, including Kimchi & Calamari (Harper Collins) & Rocky Road (Knopf Books), which she read a chapter from, introducing it with the story of the invention of the ice-cream flavor Rocky Road in the 1930s.

Nancy Denofio read from her collection of poems, What Brought You Here? (Limited Editions Press), then some memoirs of her family from the ongoing work she is doing with her father, the former Mayor of Schenectady, Frank Duci, on his memoir.

Mark Renson is one of the owners of the Jay St. restaurant, Ambition. He turned his experience there into a series of amusing vignettes published as Is the Coffee Fresh? from which he read a selection.

Dean M. DeLuke used his own experience as an oral & maxillofacial surgeon doing volunteer work in the islands as background for his novel Shedrow, a thriller described as a cross between Dick Francis & Robin Cook.

It was a good mix of genres & styles, representing the diversity of talent here in the Capital Region. While a couple of the readers tended to go a little long, the afternoon readings were well-presented & the audience reacted well to the material. Thanks to Catherine Norr & Alan Catlin of the Guild with the assistance of staff from the Schenectady County Public Library for putting this together.

A slide show of the readers can be viewed at the Guild's website.

November 21, 2010

Yes! Reading Series, November 19

This was the last of the season for this Jawbone-sponsored series, at the Social Justice Center. Tonight's reading featured BookThug authors, with local Cara Benson doing the intros. BookThug, based in Toronto, Canada "seeks to publish innovative books of poetry, prose and creative criticism that extend the tradition of experimental literature." So the Yes! Reading series was the perfect venue for them.

The first reader Andrew Hughes began with the title poem of his book Now Lays the Sunshine By, then on to pieces from a new manuscript exploring the melodramatic quality of letter writing, twisting myths in a rural setting. I loved the refrain (poetry-prompt suggestion) "setting the words on fire."

One of the 2 books I bought tonight was Tracelanguage by Mark Goldstein "from" (whatever that means) the work of Paul Celan (one of the poets I love to read uncomprehendingly -- see the translations by Pierre Joris). Mark also read poems/letters to Jack Spicer through the lens of Rilke from his other book After Rilke: To Forget You Sang.

The other book I bought was Swim by Marianne Apostolides, which she read from, in a wonderful deep sonorous voice. A woman swims 39 laps (39 Steps?) in a pool & the rhythm of her ponderings changes during her breaks. I had her dedicate my copy to my ex-, for an Xmas present (shh, don't tell her).

The last reader was the publisher, Jay MillAr (not a typo, that's how he spells it), starting with a piece after Robin Blaser (Spicer/Blaser, get the west-coast experiments?). He had a great sense of humor about his own experimentation, including reading essentially boring material in a manner to make us chuckle, with a reading-recurring refrain, "consider a Sphinx."

You'll have to wait until next semester (if you know what that means) for the next in this series -- sign up at the website for email notices about the schedule.

November 20, 2010

Third Thursday Poetry Night, November 18

A busy night at the Social Justice Center with 15 open mic poets & our dazzling featured poet, Carolee Sherwood. In a neat bit of synchronicity (don't anyone tell this to Joe Krausman) I had selected our muse for the night (Lorine Niedecker) on Monday, then on Tuesday the first poet that New York State Poet Jean Valentine recommended during her seminar was -- Lorine Niedecker! I read briefly from her selected poems.

The first open mic poet, Jason Crane, traveling in the featured poet's entourage, read his entry for the Writers' Digest Poem-A-Day project for today, "Lost & Found." Jill Wickham's poem "All the Pretty Mothers" has her running from the fairy tale life. Julie Lomoe read "11 Ways of Looking at November" (taking inspiration from Wallace Stevens) with the poetic tongue twister "shriveled thistles."

Mike Burke's poem "Christmas" jumped the season a bit & was a sad picture of a man alone. Tonight's rhymer, W.D. Clarke, read "The Reception" about a wedding party torn into chaos by a fart. Don Levy has been writing his poetic memoir of the nights at the QE2 & his installment tonight was "Poets Action Against Aids."

Our featured poet, Carolee Sherwood, is a very busy "poemer" (her word, not mine), as one of the co-hosts of Big Tent Poetry & cranking out poems everyday in November for the Poem-a-Day project. So she read several written this month, many of which can be found on her website. "Dear Reader" was a Billy Collins-style address for day 8. In "The City Where We Met" she took a look back at a relationship; another poem took us a plane flying to Portland, OR, with its meditation on the image of blade-like mountains. "Looking for the Tear Drop Lounge" was about being in Portland, day 6 of the project. "Things that Slowed Me Down Today" was a list poem for day 9, set in Portland, as was "Why I Smile to Myself" where the poet thinks she sees Dorianne Laux in a restaurant. When she read "A Failed Attempt to Write a Love Poem to her New Purple Coat" the coat itself was draped over her chair, like it was waiting for her. "Why Do We Watch It Go?" was about being on the plane, returning home. Her next poem was a nod to the approaching holiday, "A Guide to the Study of Symbolism in the 21st Century Household, Chapter 11: Thanksgiving." She ended with 2 poems not from the project: "Taking Credit for a Sunny Day," for her son Ben's birthday, & a poem about being born in Maine, "Where the Coroner Delivers Babies." Her poems are discursive, well-crafted, often with humor, ironic or otherwise; an excellent reading, &, as they say, her hair was perfect!

After the break, I read an old poem "I Want to Read My Love Poems to You" that had been sort of accepted for a poetry zine, if the poem was tighter, more focused, but it's not. This was Carol Kenyon's first time at the Social Justice Center & she read a nonsense, adult nursery rhyme, "Needing the Beat Down" on domestic violence. Nancy Denofio's narrative, "You Gotta Believe" was about listening to baseball on the radio while in class. "The Heart of Darkness" by Barbara Garro was about too much belief & learning from time what to avoid. It seems like Sally Rhoades has been following me to poetry events all this week; tonight, she read the very brief, "Tonight."

A.C. Everson joined in on the holiday theme with the turkey's demise, "Tom's Last Stand." Sue Oringel's "Links" was her love song to the game of golf. Moses Kash III read the rambling "Speech #1" written for President Obama. Sylvia Barnard's poem, "World Within Reach," was a very personal response to the public controversy over the State University cutting out language & other humanities programs, of being fired after teaching there for 43 years. But, hey, that just means she has more time to write poems.

Another dazzling night of poets & poetry at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY -- every third Thursday (as the title says), 7:30 PM.

November 19, 2010

Jean Valentine, NYS Writers Institute, November 16

Jean Valentine, the New York State Poet, did a seminar & reading for the New York State Writers Institute on November 16. The afternoon seminar was held in the Standish Room of the Science Library Building at the University at Albany (NY). The largely informal gathering of mostly students, with a gathering of local community poets & some faculty, was conducted by Edward Schwartzchild & Tomas Noel from the English Department.

Ms. Valentine began the discussion with an account of her early days of writing poetry as a young mother while her children were in nursery school. While many of the questions centered around her inspirations, how she wrote her poems & on the craft of writing, Ms. Valentine was not afraid to answer "I don't know" when necessary. She talked about her friend Grace Paley, whose spirit was quite a presence in the room; Paley was the very first New York State Poet (before the honor was split between the NYS Poet & the NYS Writer). Valentine read her poem in memory of Paley, "On a Passenger Ferry," from her new book, Break the Glass (Copper Canyon Press).

A young student asked Ms. Valentine what poets she would recommend to someone just starting to read poetry & the list included Lorine Niedecker, C.D. Wright, Emily Dickinson, Elisabeth Bishop & Gerard Manley Hopkins.

Later in the evening the Friends of the Albany Public Library joined with the Writers Institute to sponsor a reading at the library's main branch on Washington Ave. in Albany. Ms. Valentine was introduced by Gene Damm & Tomas Noel. She read one, extended piece, "Lucy," from her new book, about the famous bones discovered in Ethiopia in 1974. This poem composed in a number of short segments was written in the Summer of 2007 & first appeared in Sarabande Books' Quarternote Chapbook Series.

While I was reading Valentine's poems in the days before here visit, I was struck by how spare & elliptical they were, & indeed during the seminar she described how she would fill a page with words then take out the ones she "didn't need." But hearing Jean Valentine read her work often the connections were made by her tone & inflection aiding my understanding of the poems -- why we need to go to readings to hear our living poets read their work.

November 17, 2010

BookMarks: The Memoir Project Reading Series, November 15

This was the second in a series of upcoming readings through April 1, 2011. Last month I hosted the first, & this month's theme was "Struggling Against the Dark Side" hosted by Sandi Gelles-Cole. It was a mixed bag, as it should be, of prose, poetry, & that inter-zone of poetic prose, true, not-true, who cares, it's all art.

Tracey Krulcik's piece "Tight Rope" was an extended metaphor, where many of us have been before. Her short bio said she was "an aspiring writer" but once you do it you write, are a writer, you are no longer aspiring except to greatness.

Linda Elovitz Marshall's memoir "Call Me This & Call Me That" was about the cruel taunts that kids can so be so creative about, very much the topic of the day.

Leslie B. Neustadt read a selection of poems dealing with LSD ("Brush with Madness, Circa 1970"), molestation ("Carry on Baggage"), & cancer ("Death's Seduction" & "The Waiting Room") & "Triangle of Unfinished Business."

This was Deb Livingston Picker's first reading, which she did well, beginning both of her pieces with Yiddish proverbs -- "Chewing the Fat with Oprah Winfrey" & "Support Group" (for writers).

Carolee Sherwood is a regular at local poetry open mics & began with a poem about the Iceland volcanos, then "Solstice Manual: You'll Have To Be Sick to Survive" & "The Gardener, Pruning, Helps Night Fall."

Some of the poems of Jill Crammond Wickham, another regular at local poetry open mics, have titles longer than some poets' poems. Tonight they explored what June Cleaver does after dark, "Mother Walking Home Alone," "Behind the Scene at Dick & Jane's," "The Lonely Housewife Calls to Inquire on the Status of Her Ad, Discovers Her Personal Was Buried in the Obituaries" (which is like a haiku unto itself), & "The Husband Recalls a Recent Holiday, the Feast that Nearly Followed."

Melora Wolff described her pieces as "prose poems," perfect for tonight where we couldn't hear the line-breaks; "Mad River" took us back to her 5th grade, while "Migrations" was conversations with her mother & birds (of course).

Sandi Gelles-Cole ended the night with a reading from Child of My Child: Poems and Stories for Grandparents of "Daughter" by Christine Allen-Yazza & of "Blue Flowers On Grandmother's White China Cup" by Marsha Mathews.

Again, like the last session, all the presenters were women, but hey, maybe the guys have got their brains fried & don't do memoir because we just make the shit up. Whatever, it was a crisp night of crisp writing. Too bad none of the other curators were there, since this series continues on until April. Check it out at the Arts Center website.

November 14, 2010

2nd Sunday @ 2, November 14

American journalism is obsessed with the concept of "objectivity." But this is a chimera. Objective reporting cannot (based on everything we know about human psychology) exist. Most other developed countries in the world are not concerned about this concept, they have their "right-wing" newspapers, & "left-wing" TV stations, & it seems simpler for folks to know the point of view when assessing the veracity/accuracy/whatever of the reports they see & read, rather than reading "objective" news that has an un-acknowlged bias.

That said, I (who am one of the organizers of this event) think this afternoon's event was great. This is the first in a monthly series at the Arts Center of the Capital Region on the 2nd Sunday of the month, in the "********** Theater." My co-conspirator/host, etc. was Nancy Klepsch. It was an open mic for poets & prose writers, with flexible, expanding & contracting time-limits.

Kate Laity started us off with a story from her collection Unikirja: Dream Book, based on Finnish myths & legends, this one that werewolves keep their tails when they return to the human world. Mimi Moriarty read companion pieces about the Philadelphia Mummer's Parade, attended in memory of her father; these from 2009 & 2010.

Ron Drummond read a selection of poems, often using technical, scientific language, even when describing the leaves falling from the trees. I proposed that my poem "I Want to Read My Love Poems" was written as un-focused & loose, then commented on the use of terms "poemer" & "Poeming." Tim Verhaegen somehow got me into his poem about strange characters at the Empire State Plaza, "Mr. Fig-a-Wiggers Sister," then commented on the corporate racism, etc. of upscale law firms in "Osterman & Whiteman."

Sally Rhoades' prose piece "The Outpost" showed that her background as a poet made her prose that much more rich. Mary Panza hit us with 3 pieces, first a melange of characters at Dunkin' Donuts & shopping in the world of housewives, then the changed existence "In a Post-Partum World" & the short zinger, "The Cock-Kicker Manifesto." Our co-host Nancy Klepsch ended the afternoon's reading with a meditation on the decline of "Troy," then from the journal Oberan, the homage to B.B. King, "B.B.'s in the House."

Join us on the 2nd Sunday of each month at 2PM at the Arts Center of the Capital Region in Troy, NY -- Free!!

Frequency North, November 11

This is the reading series of visiting writers to the College of St. Rose, in Albany, NY, organized by the frequently inappropriate Daniel Nester. In general these are well-published, young writers who are not yet on the New York Times Best Sellers list, but may be someday, in which case you can see them read again at the New York State Writers' Institute in however many years.

Kathleen Rooney is a poet, essayist & fiction writer. She impressed me right off the bat with taking pictures of the audience before beginning her reading; check out her website for the photos. She read an excerpt from an essay "However Measured or Far Away" (the phrase is from H.D. Thoreau) from her collection For You, For You I Am Trilling These Songs. The essay is about a cousin becoming a nun, beginning with the author's pondering of her own inability to sit in solitude, then on to intersecting weaves of her cousin's life & the life of nun's in the order she was joining. Chatty, informal prose that was crisp, amusing without getting "cute."

Interestingly, Alexander Chee read selections from his forth-coming novel Queen of the Night, also about a woman in the service of (another type of) god, a servant girl for the Empress Eugénie in the second Empire in France. It is a lushly detailed historical novel told from the point of view of the servant who goes on to become an opera star. Such drama!

The series will continue in the Spring semester, so check out their website.

November 11, 2010

Live from the Living Room, November 10

On the eve of Veterans' Day we gathered in the living room of the Capital District Gay & Lesbian Community Center for the open mic & to hear the featured poet, W.D. Clarke. He began with poems from his 2009 collection Soldier Ballads and Other Tales, "The Circumcision," & a poem about war flash-backs, "The Night Time Army." Many of Wayne's poems have a strong narrative base, like those of his favorite poets, Robert Service & Rudyard Kipling, sometimes grim, like "The Ballad of Robert Brill" or "The Prospector's Revenge." But there is also plenty of humor, often irreverent & scatological, as in "The Two-Holer" (which poses a good question), & "Grandma's Leg." "The Pipe Smoker" is advice for guys on attracting (& keeping a good woman), & his motivational poem advises simply "Keep Going." I've said this before, but I will say it again, listening to the poetry of W.D. Clarke has made me appreciate (again) rhyming tales in the old style.

On to the open mic, I read for Veterans' Day an old poem from the 1980s, "John Lees," then the just written (yesterday) "Fast & Slow." Another rhymer, A.C. Everson read a hot-flashes poem, "Slice of Life," & then "Ode to a Toaster," an old wedding present.

Bob Sharkey read Federico Garcia Lorca's prescient poem "Qasida of the Dark Doves," which led to a brief discussion of the mystery of his death, then Bob's own short poem, "Borden Ave. Veterans Shelter."

Our straight-friendly host, Don Levy, read 2 poems from his series about the former punk-rock club where so many poets got their start at the last Monday open mic, "Losing My Virginity" (I was there that night -- but it wasn't me), & "Alexander Street" about the apartment & parties of 2 former Albany poets.

It was also nice to have, in addition to the poets, some lovely audience members, such as Wayne's wife Linda & "the 2 Ks," Kristen & Kim & the taller & taller Alexis. The crowd varies but it's always cozy on the 2nd Wednesday at the Center on Hudson Ave. in Albany, NY, 7:30PM.

November 9, 2010

Professor Java's Wide Open Mic, November 8

This is one of the few music & poetry open mics I am willing to attend. Lest you think me cranky (& that I am), the historical basis for this prejudice is that when there were few poetry open mics (oh, so many years ago), the few venues were the folk music open mics that opened their doors to poets as well (such as the original 8th Step Coffee House on Willett St.). But I soon grew tired of the time spent on-stage tuning guitars (before those electronic things they have today), & of course the endless I'm-going-down-this-lonesome-road-feeling-bad songs. So we poets created our own open mics.

But (or as Mary Panza would say, "Butt") I've found this venue appealing. In the past months the poets have outnumbered the pickers & in today's music environment there is much more variety in the styles & genres of the guitar/singer/songwriters that keeps the night interesting.

Ah, but tonight, at the end of a day of the first snowfall of the season, wet & slushy, I was once again the only poet in the house. Our host, as always, the technologically advanced Keith Spencer. So I started off with 3 current poems, the ironic "Poeming," then the brand-new "Book Store Reading," & the provocative "Looking for Cougars" (which got referenced a couple times throughout the night).

Bane drove up from Sullivan County, in this weather no less!, & began with a Grateful Dead tune, then into riffs from "Andalusia," then one of his original songs written in Oregon, "Many A Long Road" -- & here it was, the quintessential dreaded going-down-the-road folk song. Oh well.

Chris Coakley had to put his mind on shuffle (or was he shuffling his mind?) to think of things to play & spent a lot of time not remembering Jason Mraz's "Lucky," even with the help of Olivia (she's next) & the happy waitress, Katie.

Olivia Quillio said she just got back from Portland (OR)! -- Everybody's in Portland; what am I doing here? She did "Miss Ohio," then her own song "Easy Killer," & the very interesting "When You Love Somebody" by a left Coast band, The Fruit Bats. She has a rich, versatile voice & plays a baritone ukelele. The things you learn hanging out in coffeehouses.

November 8, 2010

Yes, a Reading, November 7

Yes, this is the continuing series of occasional readings sponsored by Jawbone of the University at Albany, held at the Social Justice Center in Albany, with introductions by Anna Eyre.

Frequently the poets that are showcased in this series are more "experimental" than those heard at other readings around town, so much so that sometimes it is a perplexing, if not downright tedious, experience when the poets are so enamored by the cleverness of his or her technique the audience has difficulty understanding what is going on. And often the description of the technique is more interesting than the work read. Tonight's readers, Urayoán Noel & David Mills, were the exception to this sweeping generalization; both used various contortions & manipulations of words & language to create work that still had content & context. It also helped that both were energetic & musical performers of their work.

Urayoán Noel (Tomas) read exclusively from his new book, Hi-Density Politics, from that "publisher of weird little books," BlazeVOX [books]. The work is New York City urban, specifically the Bronx, celebrating such places as Co-op City ("co-opt city"), or Crown Donut, a 24-hour diner near Yankee Stadium ("foray"), or Joyce Kilmer Park ("babel o city (el gran concurso)"). The poems are built around sound patterns in English, in Spanish, using puns, rhymes, clichés, the play of words against & around each other creating soundscapes. Other pieces, such as "trill set," based on César Villejo's Trilce, were clever but less engaging; these were written/constructed from voice recognition software from the original Spanish text. Interesting, but best in short doses. I bought the book, but I much prefer Tomas' spirited performance.

David Mills is also an accomplished performer of his work, reading partly from The Dream Detective (Straw Gate Books, 2009), & partly from a dog-eared stack of manuscript poems, pulling pages, some still handwritten, apart. He too uses puns & takes apart cliches & common expressions, finding new meanings in bending & distorting the language. His "Dream Detective" poems are built on interrogation of Dream, using journalism's basic "who-what-where-when-why", then providing random answers, sometimes clever, sometimes meaningful, sometimes ho-hum. Likewise, the playful, silly parodies of book-jacket statements in "Blurb." He was more successful in pieces having to do with the body (his) such as "Ionic Man" (an MRI) & "Mistaken Mydentity" (about therapy for depression). But he was outstanding in "Forever's Bread" (for Sean Bell who was gunned down by NYC police), taking apart pieces from scripture & the Mass & news reports of the event & putting them back together again to create a narrative/commentary that is literally chilling to hear.

I've often thought about the question of when does "experimental" become an accepted, useful technique. I mean, one experiments to find out what works & what doesn't, & once you decide what works & use it, it is no longer experimental. At some point in history the sonnet must have been "experimental" don't you think? The work of these 2 poets this night demonstrated the successful use of new, exciting techniques for making poems that have content & context & that are not just clever pastimes out of Games Magazine.

Check out the series & sign up for their emails at their Blog site.  As always, more pictures at my Flickr! site.

November 7, 2010


(as in "Feets don't fail me now!")

Your feet
     toe-jammed funky feet where America stands
Your feet
     varicose washer woman, thick-soled waitress trying to make a buck
Your feet
     painted toed models on magazine pages feeding my fantasies
Your feet
     resting, “cooling the dogs,” the postman sitting in a mailbox, his key chain umbilical cord to the cover
Your feet
     uncut toenail lovers thrashing
Your feet
     kicking & stomping thick leathersides, sweat soaks the socks like shirt beneath the arm pits
Your feet
     pounding rhythmically, dancing on asphalt starting shock waves beneath the ground, shuddering the Earth off its axis
Your feet
     in platform shoes beneath hardly anything, syncopated spinning spangled breasts flickering red & blue lights, no one watches
Your feet
     collapsed in stitchless wingtips wandering streets trying to find that one button on a grim overcoat
Your feet
     in future shoes displayed in a shop window, the fetishist stops his sweeping to stare, strokes the broom handle
Your feet
     as Gully Jimson’s models as big as a wall, as grand as Africa, as pink as virgins
Your feet
     wafting musty warm perfume speaking of feral warmth, the walker’s incense stretched before a fire, fragrant offering upon sidewalk, floor, & Moon

Half Moon Books Reading, November 6

Another in the exciting series of readings by traveling & regional poets, organized by Rebecca Schumejda at Half Moon Books in Kingston. Tonight's lineup included a number of poets who have read here before.

But Dan Provost from Worcester, MA hadn't; I had crossed poetic paths with him a couple years ago at the Connecticut Beat Poetry Festival. His poems are clear, direct statements from a working class background, often dealing with bars, & violence; generally short poems, read fast. The title of "Do I Look Like I Want to Talk to You?" says it all, but the portrait of "Poor Candy" in a dive bar was poignant, as was the domestic violence of "Making a House a Home." The insomniac poem "Lights in Worcester" is a nocturnal portrait of his home town. He also read from the recent team-collection with Aleathia Drehmer, A Quiet Learning Curve (Rank Stranger Press, Mount Olive, NC), including "Blue Collar White Heat," & "I Was Dumped for a Warlock."

Aleathia Drehmer read this past July at Poets in the Park in Albany, NY & published a couple of my poems in her tiny zine Durable Goods (#25). She also read a cluster of poems touching on domestic violence, & loss, from A Quiet Learning Curve -- a good pairing of poets. Aleathia has another chapbook out recently, You Find Me Everywhere (Propaganda Press, Palo Alto) from which she read a generous selection, including "The Seamless Gate" for Dan Provost, "He Wanted a Love Poem," & "Marquise & the Sliver Spoon," among others [I noted that this attractive little book contains a couple poems from her visit to Albany this summer, "The Poetry Motel" & the poem for Moses Kash III, "You Can't Let the Moment Pass You By"]. She ended with some poems still in manuscript, including "Reading Tea Leaves at Midnight" & the 1994 "In the End I Just Let It Go" recently revised, again demonstrating that poetry is a process.

John Dorsey, who had read here in August, was back around again on his peripatetic poetry tour, tonight the "name-dropping reading," beginning with "The Year Joe Brainard Died," then on to "Second Hand Unicorn (for Todd Moore)" & the "ecstatic nostalgia" of "The Way Things Were in 1981" (referencing Adam Walsh, how hinky esoteric). There were the working class reminiscence of "Invisible Dragons" & "Thumb Print on the Side of a Machine," but like "When Becky was in Hollywood" included gratuitous references to one degree of celebrity or another.

Roberta Gould's short poems are much more quotidian & the only "celebrity" I recall mentioned was the Long Island poet George Wallace (in her poem "Voice" from Louder than Seeds from FootHills Publishing). She then reverted to "the shopping bag method" of reading, clutching a bouquet of recent & older poems pulled up more or less at random, bearing titles like "Ghosts," or "Monday Morning," or "Insects." Or the abstractions "Imponderable," "Contingencies," "Space" & "History." Her mother's skill was detailed in "Spelling" & she celebrated the fidelity in "First" of 2 cardinals at her feeder. Roberta's poems are worth seeking out in her chapbooks & at the lucky readings where you can find her.

Different in style & energy is the lower Hudson Valley's whirling dervish of readings & open mics, Robert Milby. As he is wont to do he reported on recent birthdays of dead poets, then read a poem by John Keats. Milby's poems are a throwback to the 19th century, embroidered, over-cooked Romanticism, full of wild nature (hawks & crows, the Hudson River, wolves & fires). He celebrated the short life & work of early 20th Century poet Adelaide Crapsey, & of the more contemporary poet Mauro Parisi ("The Hudson River in Winter"). He confronted more contemporary issues with "Oil Volcanos" (the obligatory Gulf oil-spill poem) & one about the Long Island Wall-Mart Xmas stampede. Some of these poems were from his 2009 chapbook from Fierce Grace Press (Pooler, GA) Crow Weather.

A wonderful gathering of poets collected by the poetry mother of the mid-Hudson, Rebecca Schumejda. Catch it when you can -- & buy books.