January 9, 2011

Caffè Lena Open Mic, January 5

The first Wednesday of the New Year & the second poetry open mic, at a crowded Caffé Lena, but not all poets, some were chaperones & some the great audience the poets need. Carol Graser, the host & organizer of this monthly event, began by paying tribute to Janine Pommy Vega (1942 - 2010) by reading Janine's poem "The Green Piano."

Carol Kenyon was first up (wasn't she first last month too?) with "Fishes" & "Nothing" ("…never"). Patrick Sisti likes to memorize poems by famous poets & recited pieces from "Gunga Din," "The Raven," & from William Congreve.

Young Hamilton Graig was the most daring poet of the night, on stage in a long, sleeveless dress, & included a poem inspired by his reading of Jack Kerouac (what would ole Jack think of that?). Rob Reuss read a rambling "The Drunken Waiter" in memory of a dead friend. This was Carl Bertrarm's first time; he read a couple poems, including "Soldier's Dream." Another first timer was Kim Ims who read 2 love poems "The Young Major" & "Can't Remember."

Tonight's featured poet was Jason Crane who gave out copies of his new poetry zine, "Daylight Robbery" from the equally new SNAFU Press. He began with a couple poems from Unexpected Sunlight (FootHills Publishing, 2010), then on to a cluster of love poems from a new book As Close As Something Far Away ("South," "Salt," "Estonia," & "Lost & Found" -- some can be found on his website). An interesting piece was dedicated to the jazz clarinetist, Thomas Savy, "The French Suite." & you can find more about his poem "Tell the Story When the Ball is in the Air" on The Basketball Jones & Jason's website. He continued on with "Longevity" (nothing changes), "I am Not an Indian," "Villawood" (the irony of the Australia detention center), the Jack Johnson poem "Wait," "Prophecy" (which he dedicated to me & even said some nice things about me from the stage -- thanks, Jason), the historical/literary analysis of "Ah Bashō Who Were You Really?" (poets as undercover agents/Nijnas), a poem for his mom, Sally, "Apples," & ended with his erasure of Dr. Martin Luther King's Viet Nam speech, "I Cannot Threaten Death." In the short time he has been in the area Jason has established himself as one of the central "Albany" poets & we are glad to have him.

After the break Carol Graser continued with her own poem "Poetry Open Mic." Corliss Carol is a seasonal visitor (we should all be so lucky) to the area reading 2 of her own poems, "Forcing the Poem" & "Making Sense of it All or Not," then, while acknowledging the 2-poem rule went on to read a third poem by someone else, she described as "a $2000 poem" -- why? (we'll start the bidding at 2 cents…). W.D. Clarke rhymed us to the northern California town to listen to "The Bard of Alleghany." Kate McNary asked an owl in "Sense" then read her poem "The Moon." Nancy Denofio's memoir of girlhood in Schenectady was titled "A City Where the Monster Rules." Gordon Haywood's 2 poems were set out in the woods, tales of pig farmers, & a house in the forest. Barbara Garro's poems also clunked along in ancient rhymes, about "The King's Cups" & some Irish swans.

Alan Catlin has still another chapbook coming out, Deep Horizons, & read the poem in which Diego Rivera does on a take on the theme, then another of his bartender's nightmare poems with the story of "Tall Shriners in the Lounge." Carolee Sherwood had 2 new poems: "Katrina If I Were You" (a who-to-blame poem in which the famed hurricane is a wild woman), & a poem from her J. Alfred Prufrock series, "The Muttering Retreats" (sounds like a book in the making). I followed with my seasonal "What Happens in Autumn," & "My Birds' Poem of Thanks." Don Levy paid tribute to the featured reader with "The Adventures of Jason's Bag as Told by His Publicist."

Dan Nester was the first of the night's digital readers, from his laptop, the hilarious interview with his mother, "Anatomy of My Mother." Obeeduìd read from his iPad a poem about information lost between generations, "Into a Small Dark Place." Alan Casline's 2 poems were about imagining exile in different contexs, "In Exhile" & "Enter the Village."

Sylvia Barnard's 2 poems addressed the impact of the cut in the humanities programs at the University at Albany affecting us all, & her personally, one ("Messiah") based on Handel's on the destruction of the arts in general. Jill Crammond ended the night with the parable of "The Dead Man & the Ghost" meeting in a bar -- chilling.

The first Wednesday of any month at historic (& hysterical) Caffe Lena, Phila St. Saratoga Springs, NY, 7:00PM sign-up, 7:30PM start, $3.00 (at least) donation.


Jason Crane | jasoncrane.org said...

Thanks, Dan!

One note: There's an error in the URL of my Web site. Here's the correct link:


CL Kenyon said...

You are correct Dan...but who's keeping track? ooops..you are;)