February 21, 2011

Third Thursday Poetry Night, February 17

A packed house with a class from the College of St. Rose, shepherded by the inappropriate Daniel Nester to hear tonight's featured poet/activist, Jackie Sheeler.  But first I invoked the muse, Tom Nattell & his poem written in 1967 about the Homeless Action Committee's attempt to establish an SRO (single room occupancy) for homeless alcoholics in Albany, "5 Save No" (the effort was successful, & the HAC SRO is at 393 North Pearl St.

But first, some of the open mic. Alan Catlin read his poem "John Lennon Died for Your Sins but His Clone Lives On" in honor of Yoko Ono's birthday (tomorrow). I let Jason Crane read 2 poems since he is about to move to NYC & this would be his last reading here, a poem in Japanese & in English ("Today is like other days…"), then "The Blues." Obeedude (Mark O'Brien) read from his iPad a poem of place about the Onesquethaw Creek, "When I Listen…"

Alan Casline still has his old comic books (wish I had mine!) & read a piece about comic-book reality, "Holy Moly." Mimi Moriarty brought NYC poems in honor of Jackie's reading & read "Subway Preacher" (just laugh, they'll move on). W.D. Clarke gave the students a taste of his modern rhyming ballads with the crowd-pleaser "Grandma's Leg."

I was "sharing" Jackie Sheeler with Daniel Nester's class where she had done a guest appearance earlier. She was also promoting her new book from NYQ Books, Earthquake Came to Harlem, from which she read. But she was inspired by Mimi's poem to start her reading with "Hereafter" where "Hell is a dentist's waiting room in Fargo…" Other poems invoking NYC were "Unknown Grave #2" about the unknown dead buried in Potter's Field, "God Enters the World" & "One Uncivilized Soul" both also referencing the world of junk. She brought her mother into the reading with "The Scissors of My Mother" (remembering her haircuts) & the hilarious scene of mother & daughter on diet pills tearing down "Wallpaper." She returned briefly to the scissors in "Dominant Hand" that led us to 2 final poems, both about living alone, "Solo" & "Teenage Roommate," ending on a note of global politics. It was a spirited performance of accessible, amusing, touching, & decidedly anti-post-modernist poems. Glad this was the night Jackie Sheeler came to Albany.

After the break I began the open mic with my new letter to the tiresome season, "Winter Argument." Stacey Stump was back after a long hiatus with a cluster of what she called her "Marriage Haikus."

The one student to read, Liz Corey, blew us away with an intensely moving poem about her father dying of a brain tumor & her traumatized response -- brought tears to these sentimental eyes, & others in the audience too. Daniel Nester was the first in the "Stuffy Professor" section of the open mic, with an excerpt from a longer piece about his having "small hands & feet" with its images of Philadelphia, "written" using transcription software. Speaking of Philadelphia, Nester went home with a goodie bag from Philly's WMMR,  courtesy of one of their DJ's, Blake Dannen. The night's 2nd "Stuffy Professor" was Sylvia Barnard who read a poem she wrote at a "Writing from Art" workshop recently held at the UAG Gallery, sponsored by the Hudson Valley Writers Guild. [If anyone seriously believes that Dan & Sylvia are really "stuffy professors" then that means you haven't heard them reading their work out in the community.]

Avery read a book, the hilarious, short children's (?) book, It's A Book, by Lane Smith. A.C. Everson brought us home with the seasonal favorite "Cupid is a Bastard."

The third Thursday is always fun at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY -- featured poets from the local scene & regionally, even nationally; & an open mic for the rest of us. 7:30PM, $3.00 donation.

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