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.

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