March 29, 2011

Poets Speak Loud!, March 28

At McGeary's on Clinton Square, where we gathered in the backroom, huddled around a couple tables for dinner, drinks & poems, with mother Mary Panza keeping order.

I read first for the open mic portion, repeating "The Pussy Pantoum" from yesterday, then on to "Things You Won't Die From" & the very short "My Matisse."

Sally Rhoades read from the selection of her poems in High Watermark Salo[o]n (Volume 1, Number 3, 2007) beginning with a poem describing her father (& herself), then to "I Love to Dawdle" (lunch with a friend in NYC), & "The Solstice Moon" outside the window of a plane.
Shannon Shoemaker also had 3 poems, the love poem "This December" (with the moon, again), & 2 new poems, "Strange" (about her father re-marrying), & California-dreaming in "A Poem for March."

The featured poet, Joe Krausman, read a relaxed set of poems, linked under the theme of things that happened recently, but underneath it all the fragility of existence.
Harkening back to the beginning of the open mic he read 2 cat poems, then a poem quoting the ancient Greek philosopher Epictetus, & a "Lament for the Rhinoceros," on the theme of extinction. He also read poems about the tsunami, a wedding on an island in Italy & a lament for Hedy Lamar busted for shoplifting. The "Bedside Monologue" was by a cheating husband, while "My Pension…" considered the things to do in his old age. Joe is also a playwright & included the lyrics from a couple songs from his plays, reading (not singing, thank god) "Allegro Con Local" (love on the IND in NYC) & "It's Just Around the Corner." In between he advised "Never Wash a Hedgehog" & ended with "Shipwreck."

While Joe was reading some late-arriving poets slipped in, but first, el presidente Thom Francis read a couple poems, "I Need to Keep Myself Relevant" & a poem about his co-workers, "Cackling." Avery said he "squeezed out" 2 poems today, a love-ditty "Platonic Shift" & the timely & ironic "Tomahawk Cruise Missiles for Peace."

Jill Crammond was the last reader for the night with a not-so happy wedding poem, "I Should Mention Love" & a list of "Things I Have Forgotten."

It's every last Monday down on Clinton Square, in Albany, NY, sign-up at 7PM, reading at 8PM, open mic & a featured poet.

March 28, 2011

Sunday Four Poetry, March 27

Or, Part 2 of the Carolee Sherwood Poetry Weekend, since she was the featured poet. A good turnout of local poets & audience, about 20 folks, to hear poetry on a Sunday afternoon. Co-host Dennis Sullivan introduced some history of poetry competitions (getting ready for next month's Smith's Tavern Poet Laureate Contest) by citing the ancient Greek texts about the mythic contest between Hesiod & Homer.

Then Edie Abrams introduced the open mic poets, Philomena Moriarty the first up with 3 meditative poems, "Place" in the woods with snow, "Inadequacy" on a power failure, & the more interior "What is the Boundary of Self." I read next, 2 new poems, "The Pussy Pantoum" & "Chatham Peace Vigil."

Obeeduid (Mark O'Brien) read a poem about gloves, "Why I Was Never a Surgeon" dedicated to Joe Krausman, then the quotidian "Grateful for the Small Acts of Morning" and invoked Spring with the poem "Landscapes of This & That" & with his frog tie. Dennis Sullivan's philosophical meditation "Reflections on the Given Day" imagined an after-life he doesn't believe in. Therese Broderick read a poem, "What Is," from her new series on Watervliet, then "Mother Consults the Shovel" from her book At April's End: poems for a daughter.

Lloyd Barnhart came back with more of what he described as "good ole boy stuff", a story about hunting a snowshoe hare, "The Dingman Dodger," then the amusing memoir of dancing with a cousin at a wedding, "Mother of the Bride." Mimi Moriarty began with "A Retrospective," then on to 2 "recipe" poems, "Tears & Raspberries En Croute" & "How I Would Decorate the Elephant in the Living Room." Howard Kogan said he had 2 silly poems in honor of April Fools' Day, the whimsical meditation on life & death, "Solitaire" & the funny, & tender, "Proof" of the existence of god. Edie Abrams' 2 poems were untitled & each one stanza, one on doing the dishes, the other about a lingerie store. I missed the title to Alan Casline's first poem, filled with candles & candleabra, then he read the "Song of a Woman of White Swans." Referencing a lunch-time conversation Joe Krausman discussed the difficulties in defining "The Golden Mean." Marilyn Paarlberg did her first poem from memory, "I Have Her Rolling Pin" then read a Spring poem written after the death of her father, "Harbinger."

Jim Williams played a little blues guitar behind his poem about the Jungian Shadow Poet.

Even though I had heard Carolee Sherwood read Friday night at the UAG Gallery, the number & quality of her fine poems insured that I would hear something different, while enjoying repeated favorites -- & she didn't disappoint. She began with 2 poems she said she has never read at readings, beginning with an excerpt from a found poem built out of Tweets, then the older prose poem "Why Mourning is an Ocean of Red Confetti" mixing in a friend's stories & the death of her mother, & a bathtub full of tomatoes.
Her next poem "Flying Over Snowy Mountains in the Morning Sun" is one of her characteristic "relationship poems," as is "Because She Can't Help It." Then a cluster of single-word titled poems, "Boudoir" (a new room & alligators), "Salvage" (having dinner alone, & her mother again), & "Vestige". Winter had already made an appearance as a setting for some of her poems, moreso in "The Kind of Clever Darkness We Are Up Against" where Winter is a cruel character. But Spring is coming as in the next 3 poems she read, "At Starbucks Waiting for Spring," "Low Clouds Cold Rain" (from last spring, & her mother's death again), & "Spring". She ended with her new "favorite" poem, the urban "Apiary." Many of these poems can be found on her Blog.

Then the poets dispersed & regathered at Smitty's, like flocks of sparrows around my birdfeeder, except that the conversations were better over beer & sandwiches. The 4th Sunday of most months of the year, 3PM, Old Songs Community Center, Voorheesville, NY.

March 26, 2011

St. Rose Grad Students' Reading, March 25

This was the 2nd annual student-run reading series being held at the UAG Gallery on Lark St. This was the "poetry night" re-scheduled from earlier in the year due to Winter's wrath, with another short-fiction reading scheduled. This was also the first reading of the Carolee Sherwood Poetry Weekend -- she is reading on Sunday, March 27 at the Sunday Four Poetry series. It wasn't supposed to be this way, but, again, it was Winter picking on Carolee, as it has all season, by having to re-schedule to this same weekend as her other reading.  The series is coordinated by & hosted by Jennifer Austin.

Each poet did about 10 to 15 minutes of reading, with a great variety of voices & styles. First up was Carolee Sherwood with a good selection of new poems & some favs she has read before, with her themes of relationships, Winter & pop culture. She began with "Every Evening After a Whole Lot of Same," then read what she called her first work poem, " At Starbucks Waiting for Spring." Then on to more "weather poems," "The Way to the Storm (after W.S. Merwin)" & a poem to Summer, "Dissolution." In "Dear Reader" she referenced a common Billy Collins technique of addressing the reader. The next 2 poems both contained dead deer in one form or another, "Scenes from an X-File On a Wife Who Didn't Really Die" & "Madness." "Dwindling," which I think was set in Oregon, also contained images from TV & pop culture. She ended with more love & weather, this time a tornado, in "Surrender Dorothy."

The centerpiece of William Rodden's reading was a long "love-poem about America," political, humorous, expansive in the style of Whitman & Ginsberg, "America Needs Knitters" (& this day is the 100th year anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in NYC) which also elicited rare applause for an individual poem (I've noticed that people at academic-sponsored readings don't usually applaud poems). He also read a 2-part poem "Tristan & Isolde," and a love poem "Dervish" & ended with another short poem.

Two redheads in one night is almost more than I can stand. Mary Catherine Owen began with a funny, "sappy" love poem, "Sestina for an Unrequited Love." Many of her other poems were quite short, "Five Lines on Impatience," "Samantha," "After Nap Time," & the acerbic "To the Girls in My Hall." She created a poem, "Dear Lady," out of letter from Marlon Brando to a stewardess. "Elegy for Chris & Maddie" grew out of her experience working with young children, & the amusing poem "Premise" was linked together with the recurring "if… then…" She ended as she began with a formal poem, this a "Senryu," a series of linked sarcastic, humous haiku, "Senryu on Why I Suck."

The final reader was not a grad student but their professor, Barbara Ungar, reading from her new book of poems Charlotte Brontë, You Ruined My Life (The Word Works, 2011). She began with the moving poem [that's a pun] "Unpacking," then onto the book's title poem that is addressed to the reader. "Rosemary's Divorce" was based on one of my favorite movies, Rosemary's Baby, & on a similar theme, "Why Don't They Just Drop Dead" was to her ex-husbands. "Against Disneyland" was about her idea of Hell as a kid, while "Rescue" also dealt with a different Hell. Also from her youth was a description of her "Moccasins." "Recipe For a Long Happy Marriage" was just that, complete with cooking terms. She returned to the Brontë family with "Only Emily," then ended with the self-affirming poem in praise of herself "Torch Song."

Though not well-publicized, this reading was very well attended, not just by St. Rose students & faculty but by many community poets as well, with extra chairs needed for late arrivals. The UAG Gallery has become more than just a place to hang paintings, with regular sessions of experimental music & the occasional poetry reading as well. Check it out on Lark St. in Albany, NY.

March 19, 2011

Third Thursday Poetry Night, March 17

It being St. Paddy's Day, there was a bit of a theme running through the night, starting with my reading of the old Irish poem "Fair Cassidy" in a translation by Donagh MacDonagh, a fine celebration of poetry for the 11 open mic poets & our featured poet Lori Desrosiers.

Alan Catlin was the first up complete with a costume change to a Guinness shirt & a green baseball cap worn backwards, & his poem was about his days as a bartender & the horrors of St. Patrick's Day ("the green plague" as John Montague called it). Judith Prest's poem was seasonal it a different way, "Crow"(& nice to see her back after a hiatus).  Carolee Sherwood, very much in green, had a new poem from this week, about the demise of a (fill in your own favorite) pizza place. W.D. Clarke's poem was about a different kind of favorite, "The Favorite Pipe." Don Levy read his poem about the poet Paul Weinman, "White Boy," from his on-going saga of the days at the QE2. It was Charles Straney's first time here, with a moving 3-part poem, "Death of a Copake Herdsman."

Our featured poet, Lori Desrosiers, said that she wasn't Irish but her book is -- she has a collection of poetry due out from Salmon Poetry (County Clare, Ireland) in 2012. Some of the poems she read were from this collection. She began with a poem about cicadas, then onto a different kind of music where she imagines herself as each of the instruments "Listening to a Beethoven Quartet." The everyday events return on "The Day After the End of the World (12/22/12)."  She read about a being stung by bees as a child in "Looking at Bees (after Wallace Stevens)," then more music in "Guitars." Her "marriage" poem "That Pomegranate Shine" was the poem I sent around with the email reminder. Her poem "The World is Flat" examined technologies like GPS & Facebook. She dedicated her poem "What Poets Do Instead of Sleep" to her critique group & to those who have insomnia, then concluded her reading singing a song for peace & putting an end to War.

After the break, I read the poem "Tracings" from my 1995 chapbook, "Ireland." Joe Krausman's poem "Movie Mania" imagined going to Hollywood where everyone has screen-play waiting to be produced. 

Another first-timer, Pearse Murray, read a genuine Irish poem, the "semi-autobiographical" (as he put it), "Exile 1955." Therese Broderick read from a new series of historical poems she has started, "Water Flats" (= Watervliet). At the end, the poet known as "Screamer" (Amy Fortin) moved us with her poem about looking for a missing friend, "Josh."

A nice showing of local poets, as always, even some listeners who did not read, keeping poetry alive on the third Thursday of each month (since 1997) -- 7:30PM at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany (NY).

March 14, 2011

Poetry + Prose, March 13

also known as "2nd Sunday at 2" at the Arts Center of the Capital Region. Even with moving the clocks ahead there were 50 people there (according to the reporter from, & 20 readers. Nancy Klepsch & I are the tag-team host, & we even sign up to read.

Bob Sharkey was up first with a taste of the Irish, starting with Eaven Boland's poem "Daughter of the Colony," then his own prose memoir about his grandfather's dislike for (the) English, "The King's Speech" (& Bob won't go to the movie). Josh McIntyre came down from Saratoga County to read a couple of his short poems, "Hush" & "Old Songs" jogging on the path of memory. Carolee Sherwood confessed to being an avid fan of "The X-Files" & read "Scenes from the X-File on a Wife Who Didn't Really Die," then the poem with the working title, she said, "At Starbucks Waiting for Spring" -- both these poems on her Blog, I think.  Jean Powis read for the first time, a moving poem written 19 years ago about the death of her husband, "Assassination of the Soul."

It was also Dorine's first time & she read an essay about the dangers of AIDS & about prevention methods. It had been Heather Haskin's first time a few months ago, but now she keeps coming back, today with "Wooden Casualties" an excerpt from a longer piece, about learning about trees & lumber from her grandfather. David Wolcott's memoir, "San Simeon," was about trespassing at the Hearst castle on mescaline in his youth. Julie Gutman's 2 poems were from a chapbook dedicated to her deceased mother, "Bequeathed" & the artful sestina "Mother's Amber Necklace." Ron Drummond strung together a couple of dream pieces, one from 3 years ago, another that he titled "Never's Yon" about finding mythical books in a used bookshop. I read the recent, seasonal Winter's Light" & the old 3 Guys performance piece about earthquakes "the stones stand…"

Jil Hanifan's "The Exegesis on Mary Poppins" included her singing in an energetic performance of the piece. Another regular, Kate Laity, said she was going to read something that was unusual for her, a piece that was "unpublished, unfinished & truthful" travel notes & musings from a trip to Italy, read from her pocket notebook. Sally Rhoades piece "A Thousand Tribes" was also unfinished, on various pages & from her journal, an evolving bit of fiction (afterall, that's what open mics are for, to try out pieces that may -- or may not -- be unfinished, incomplete, in various stages of revision). Nancy Klepsch read a piece written 9 years ago that celebrated herself, effusive & ecstatic, now at the other end of that decade, "40."  Barbara Kaiser read a memoir, "In the Middle of the Night," about a couple of Brooklyn girls hanging out in the Village (ah, yes, interesting days), & a funny wordplay, "Ode to the Metric System."

Lauren Pinsley had planned to read last, but others coming in late filled in the list behind her, still she moved many of us to tears with a tribute to her marriage (& "un-marriage" through the vagaries of legislation) & wishing her partner, Nancy, Happy Anniversary (& many more my friends!). Elizabeth Gordon didn't tell us the titles of her 2 pieces, the first combining the need/desire to write & political action, the second a brief, gentler piece beginning "I agree with pink…" & ending with a drop of dew. Rachel Lyons rocked up with a long, marvelously intense piece written for an anti-war performance, around the images of the children's game rock, paper, scissors; I think the title was "First Poem Piece" (or Peace?). Anu slipped in at the end with a couple poems he said were from 2005 & 2006, "Romancing the Road" (on an Indian motorcycle) & the wistful desire of "Dancing in the Dark Nights."

This is an open mic for prose writers as well as poets, with a 5-minute time-limit, every 2nd Sunday of the month at the Arts Center of the Capital Region, 265 River St., Troy, NY -- it's free, & it starts on time.

March 13, 2011

Live from the Living Room, March 9

at the newly re-named Pride Center of the Capital Region. This is always an intimate gathering, this week more so because of Monday's double whammy storm freezing up the sidewalks & parking spaces. Plus, the (legendary/proverbial) Tour Bus couldn't find a parking space & circled Center Square for hours.

But our host, Don Levy was there, as was I, & our featured poet Guy Reed. I like to say that I like to hear Guy read, & tonight was no exception, beginning with "Copper Memories," finding pennies on the floor with scenes etched from memory. Also philosophical were "Speechless" (in March), & in "How the Mind Works," then, being at the Pride Center, considered the gender alternatives in "Gemini." He read a cluster of art-related poems, including "Blue Conveyance" on a sculpture by his father-in-law, "Seeing the Starry Night " (the real thing), & a meditation on a 1958 Rothko painting. "Poetry Fails" is a poem about trying to describe the everyday joys of living one's life, & he ended with "Bat Dream." In between we had lots of discussion on the poems & life.

I tried out my new "Pussy Pantoum" then "My Matisse" based on Thomasa Nielsen's painting. Don shared his new poem/memoir about Paul Weinman, "White Boy."

A cozy gathering on the 2nd Wednesday of each month at the Pride Center, 332 Hudson Ave., Albany, NY -- usually a featured poet, an open mic, & always straight-friendly.

March 10, 2011

Half-Moon Books, March 5

Someone commented on a previous Blog post of mine that "people aren't coming out to poetry readings anymore." A regular reader of these entries here will realize this can't be true. Just counting the number of people who read in the open mic shows a substantial showing of local poets on a regular basis, & there are always a few more in the audience who don't read (you can see them in the photos that show the audience). This reading in Kingston was a good example of the audience for poetry, as you can see from some of the photos.

The series is co-ordinated & hosted by Rebecca Schumejda, tonight with help from her daughter, Kaya. The first reader was Paul Clemente, whose photos were on display on the walls of the bookstore. He coordinates the Read for Food program down in Highland, NY. He began with a letter he wrote to his co-workers about his Parkinson's Disease, then a discursive meditation on a snow-blower, & a couple of more Nature-oriented poems, "The First Rivulet" & "Calving" (on glacier ice-caps).

Donald Lev, the grand-ole mensch of Home Planet News, read from a work-in-progress, "The Art of Suggestion." These were were a string of mostly short pieces, many sounding like dreams, ranging as far & wide as NYC ("A Previous Life"), to a poets' party ("The Day"), to his house ("Usher"), among others. In "Personal Narrative" he wondered if he was screwed up because of the way his mother dressed him.

Cheryl A. Rice read from a couple of single sheet, fold-out "Origami poems," "Outside," a memory of fishing with her father*, & "Another Rose." Also a varied selection of new & older poems, including the gym poem, "No Judgment Zone," & a favorite of mine, the love poem "I Was You Were," & a few poems from her chapbook Auction. Always a pleasure to hear Cheryl's new work & the old favorites too.

Mike Jurkovic had just been the featured poet at McGeary's in Albany & it was just fine to hear some of the same poems repeated, such as "My Inner Mexican" & "Half-Shitty" about the kinds of days we have & how it can become all relative. He included some poems from Purgatory Road, his 2010 chapbook from Pudding House, & of course some pot-smoking poems (I don't mean the poems were smoking pot, I mean, well, like, you know what I mean, I think…).

Mary Panza was the last poet for the night, flush with being named by Metroland's readers as Albany's Best Poet, as well she should. She ran through a quick set of, well, Mary-Panza poems: "Roofing & the Art of the Kiss," "Housewife Tuesday," "I Am Waiting for the Poem to Come" (while at work), the poem on Wim Wenders "perfect black & white," overhearing "Two Men Discuss Victor Hugo," "The Treacherous End" (lusting after a waiter), "Divorcing Albert," & the sudden "Cock-Kicker Manifesto."

Check regional poetry calendars for when this fascinating series is again:,

*  See Comments for a correction.

March 7, 2011

Caffè Lena Open Mic, March 2

Another gathering of fine regional poets, hosted by Carol Graser, who started us off with a poem by Andy Clausen, "Phone with Mom."

Marilyn McCabe began the open mic with puns in her poem "Mother of Pearl," then a pleasant sunrise poem. Roger's old photos dredged up memories in "Black & White" & read description of someone carrying "Violets."

Hamilton (or "Ham") read a piece that invoked his Beat heroes & the writers of the '50s & '60s. W.D. Clarke read "The Antique Center," a rhyming tribute to the proprietors & customers, then "The Rhymer's Confession from his forthcoming book. Angelina Grund wrote her feelings out on paper telling us "What I'm Made Of."

The featured poet was Adirondack writer Elaine Handley, with a compact selection of mostly seasonal poems. She began with "Migraine Nights," a poem from her chapbook Letters to My Migraine (30 Acre Wood Publications, 2006), & later included another from the book, "My Father's Garden." Another poem for her father was "Patrilineal." She read a couple poems about the current season, "A Coat in March," then "Ground Hog Day" (with Demeter in the Adirondacks). Then moved on to the approach of Spring, including "Absolution," the sexy "Moose-Love," & "Germination." Her poems are generally accessible on first hearing, filled with vivid images from Nature.

After a break, Carol Graser brought us back with her own poem, "Salvage," about making a blanket from old sweaters. Todd Fabozzi had been announced earlier, but had been next door; he returned with an attempt to recite the elegaic "O Amsterdam" from memory, but had to abandon it; he did better with the shorter "Time." Austen Halpern-Graser performed a short comedic break; if he keeps getting taller he won't be able to do any more of his short jokes. Speaking of short, another young poet, Olivia Ashley read a short poem, "Nights on End," so short I didn't get a good photo of her.

Lorraine Grund, who had brought a couple of the young poets with her (Angelina & Olivia), read a poem about the things in her daughter's room, "Why You're So Awesome," then a poem about a snow-globe, "Turned Upside Down." Barbara Garro's long, aphoristic poem "The Way" was modeled on the Tao Te Ching of Lao Tsu she said. Gordon Haymon's meditation on parenting, "Children," included some interesting half-rhymes, then he read about his collection of pocket knives. Nancy Denofio read a long piece about her mother & a shot-glass, "Communicating After Death."

I read a couple recent, seasonal poems, the annual "Birthday Poem 2011" & "What I Found When the Snowbanks Melted." Charles Watts' first poem was about the ancient Egyptian gods, then about a dream he had of an art gallery & a "Nocturnal Emission." Therese Broderick modeled her poem "That Tuesday" (about her daughter & 9/11/2001) on a poem by Seamus Heaney. Lisa Cossack had just been listening to the poets, then pulled some notes from her bag on the 50th anniversary of Caffé Lena, a good way to end the night.

The first Wednesday of every month at historic Caffè Lena on Phila St. in Saratoga Springs, NY, 7:30 PM.

March 6, 2011

Poets Speak Loud!, February 28

Back when this series was at the Lark Tavern there was usually a featured poet. But since the fire & the move to McGeary's in November, it's been basically an open mic as the series re-establishes its foothold. With tonight's reading the featured readers were back in force, with the energetic Mike Jurkovic featured, in the middle of the open mic.

I was there early & read up first, "Birthday Poem 2011" based on a remark Mary Panza made at the Tom Nattell Memorial Beret Toss last month, next a brief untitled little love poem, then a seasonal piece about what I found in a snowbank at the bus stop.

Leslie Gerber began with a poem by Tara McCarthy, then his own moon poem, "Splendor" & a series of short pieces, haikus, etc.

Jill Crammond's first poem was called "Loud in the House of Herself" with an umbrella in it, then on to a twisting of a familiar story, "Grandmother Speaks Frankly to Red Riding Hood" about making your own fairytale. Tess Lecuyer ran us through seasons with "Anywhere" (ice), "Spring Equinox," & "Sonnet for a Watercolor" with its summer blue. We had no cake for Cheryl A. Rice's 28th birthday (!?) today, but we did sing (badly, but with feeling). She read a new piece, "Nixon in China," not the opera but her memory of that time), & then "Leaving Minnesota," a place she has never been.

Mike Jurkovic was a great choice to lead off the featured readers here. He is the co-director of Calling All Poets at the Howland Cultural Center down in Beacon, NY. He read wandering the room, as he often does, eschewing the use of the microphone, sometimes from his big white binder, other times from his 2010 chapbook from Pudding House, Purgatory Road.  He began with a poem with an interesting trope with his soul as a tourist. A number of his poems had references to rock music, not surprising with his background as a music critic: "The Guitarist Said," "Doesn't She Know" (Ritchie Sambora), banging "John Lennon's Daughter," & "The Art of the Opening Band." There were a couple movie references, "Remake" (of "The Hairy Ape"), "The Road," even "The Great Movie Begins" (on meditating). "My Inner Mexican" engages racist clichés, & "Pacific Trash Vortex" takes on Man's trashing of Nature. & then there is the recent love poem that I liked very much "These Guys." Mike ended his program with a string of I guess you would call them "driving poems": "More Balls" (about the first woman driver?), & from his book, "Tell Them, My Love," & the title poem, "Purgatory Road." What one could easily sum up as a really good performance.

RM Engelhardt made a rare appearance with a couple of pieces I think you can find on his website, "Poem for Sleep" ("this is not a poem about sleep"), & his stab at another political poem, "21st Century Dirge for America." Carolee Sherwood's poems were still frozen into the season, with "February Body Count," & the weak sun & a dream conspire for "Another Cold Monday."  Joe Krausman wasn't sure to title his poem "Eskimos" or "Inuit," good just the same.

Shannon Shoemaker had 2 bad-love poems, the very short "Bouquet" & "Prayer to Dina," then one on the season "S.A.D." Avery finished up the night with a poem for our friend Jason Crane, "Smoking Jazz" then "Boiling Out of the Blackness a Star is Born" based on a performance at EMPAC at RPI.

Last Monday of most months, now with a featured poet, at McGeary's at Clinton Square. Bring poems.

March 3, 2011

Metroland's Readers' Poll 2011

Once again this year, folks, here is the real skinny behind this annual mutual stroke fest known as Metroland's "Readers' Poll". I had realized after last year's dumpster dive to retrieve the raw data on the voting for Best Poet that there must be a high-tech way of doing this to avoid coming out smelling like the OH Bar on Saturday night. So I found a 20-something cyber-savvy Blogger (she's got like 6 Blogs going at once) & asked her to help me hack into Metroland's computers, but it cost me. Of course that means I got everything (including some interesting personal emails, I think what the media calls "sexting").

For those of you who haven't seen this week's issue of Metroland, the readers' pick for "Best Poet" was once again Mary Panza, with R.M. Englehardt in the #2 slot (or under Mary), & the third slot was cyperspace entity KC Orcutt. As far as I can tell, this person has never been out in the Albany poetry scene, at least using that name, since I don't have a picture of her, but that's OK. Anyone can be Best Poet, you only need a couple votes to win, as the data from Metroland shows.

So here it is, the final tally:
KC Orcutt got 2 votes, probably her's & her mother's. RM Engelhardt got 3 votes (2 were mine because once again this year I voted for him twice; obviously the 3rd vote was Rob's own vote for himself). [Note to Rob for next year: cheat -- send in ballots with phony names/addresses, etc. You can beat Mary next year if you do.]

Mary Panza got 4 votes, enough to win, but not the huge numbers like some years in the past. I think it was because she lost some of her cousins' & nephews' votes because they got swept up in the FBI raids on the Mafia in the past months, & were too involved with lawyer meetings to vote. So if Rob wants to win next year I suggest that in addition to cheating (see above), he uses some of his connections to get the cops to arrest more of Mary's family. Of course, who knows, maybe KC Orcutt will do the same thing & then we'll have a real horserace.

For me, I'm glad I didn't make the list this year. I'm tired of calling Metroland's office trying to get my CDTA Swiper Card. As my father used to say about the Best Of, "That & a swiper card will get you on the bus." So to this year's winners all I can say is I hope you get your swiper card, because I'm still waiting for mine.

(If anyone out there is interested in the numbers for any of the other categories, just let me know & maybe I can help you out.)

Sunday Four Poetry, February 27

A fine turnout of poets, including a couple of "virgins" for the open mic & a featured reading by Joe Krausman, with our hosts Edie Abrams & Dennis Sullivan.  Edie presented the recently published Smith's Tavern Poet Laureate Contest collection of the winning poems by 2010 Poet Laureate Barbara Vink, Runner-up Carolee Sherwood & Honorable Mention Howard Kogan.  The book is available from Square Circle Press.  But first, the open mic.

Alan Casline's rambling poems were about the rain on his cabin in the woods, the history of a tavern on the Scoharie Road, then a report on the books he got in the mail. I recited "Joe Krausman" then read the new annual "Birthday Poem 2011." Tim Verhaegan always digs deep into his family & personal life & read "Gay Men Gay Son," & a poem about his brother, dead 31 years ago today; then he brought Larry Rapant up to perform "Nightmare on State St." about a pick-up years ago. Dennis Sullivan tends to philosophize, first about his early career change ("I Am Moved to Litanize") & his father ("Questions for a Visitor"). Obeedude read again from his iPad, a bookended triptych of visual poems, "The Convexity of Dishes," "Rembrandt's 3rd Cousin Twice Removed," & "The Concavity of Dishes" (which was the same, I think, as the first poem).

The first of the new readers was Lloyd Barnhart with a trio of story poems, "Dancing in the Deer Woods" about deer-hunting instructions in the lingo of dance, "Pearl" & "The East Creek Killers."

 Another first timer, Jim Macris began with a poem about watercolors & 1st graders, then on to how great it is "To Be Touched," & "Death of a Childhood Nightmare." Paul Amidon began with Winter poems, the first about skating on the town dump ("The Price of Admission"), then skidding in his car ("Driving Lesson"), then his "Poems as Children."

Howard Kogan's humorous poem "Migration" was a meditation on hair & aging, while "This Here Guy" was a childhood memory of learning the mystery of words from a neighbor who "didn't talk too well." Philomena Moriarty began with 2 poems about her brother, the recently written "The After-death" & the older roses-&-music "Romance," then a recent poem "Walking on Rice Paper" (be still). Barbara Vink was a late addition to the sign-up sheet & shouldn't have apologized for "The Lesson" on ironing, ending tenderly.

Dennis Sullivan introduced Joe Krausman as an exemplar of "down-state consciousness." Joe said his themes would be Love, Death & Doctors. I've been a student for years of Dr. K's humorous, ironic, philosophical poems, often predicated on word-play & sometimes using subtle rhymes (& not so subtle -- how many poets do you know who can rhyme on "hernia"?). I noticed today that he is a master of the 2nd person, "you", which I suspect takes "him" (the poet) out of the poem, the anti-memoir to protect the guilty. & often he casts his ponderings as narratives, as in "Suture Self," "Oil & Water," "Organ Lessons," & the meditation on coincidence, "Thanksgiving." Many years ago I was in a poetry workshop led by John Montague, where I first met Joe & heard his fine poem "Houdini on the Death of His Mother," which he included today, thankfully.  Joe is one of those local poets we are blessed to have in this area to inspire & entertain us, down-state, or upstate consciousness -- whatever.

The fourth Sunday of most months, 3PM, at Old Songs Community Arts Center, 37 S. Main St., Voorheesville, NY (hey, MapQuest it). Then join us at Smitty's afterwards.