May 25, 2011

Poets Speak Loud!, Ma[r]y 23

& a wild night it was, a week early (this is usually held on the last Monday of the month) due to the Memorial Day holiday next week, but more so (perhaps) so we could all celebrate Mary Panza's birthday (it was Avery's birthday as well) -- she was the host. So we once again gathered in the backroom of McGeary's for food, drinks, words, cared for so well by the ever-patient, ever-tolerate Meghan.

No featured poet tonight, just an "old-school" open mic.  Sylvia Barnard started off with a poem inspired (prompted) by Carolee's encouragement to write about her "ex-," the father of her daughter, so she read "Books" (on his remarking that Sylvia could not be a good mother because she had too many books!).

I'm sorry if this is sounding as repetitious as it is, but I read (yet again) from Poeming the Prompt, tonight the poems "Prophylactic" & "Looking for Cougars" (there is a connection there).  I had made the mistake of giving Mary Panza her birthday gift before I read so there was so much commotion & to-do about it that I almost didn't get to read my poem, but Carolee Sherwood settled us down with a found poem, "Boy Toy Brad" reading from the back of the box of the gift (while one of Mary's friends at the bar was blowing up for her), then she continued with her poem from Albany's Tulip Festival, "Do Not Be Startled" (read from her iPad). Don Levy, catching his breath over the blowup doll, read an old poem from his rare chapbook Super Queer Poet Saves the Day! "Hard at Work on the Tiger Beat" (on the movie "The Breakfast Club").

Tess Lecuyer paid tribute to one of Albany's finest poets (& thrilled me to no end) by reading poems by Harry Staley, "Biology 1" & the percussive "The Senile General in the Garden." Jill Crammond (whose hair was perfect) responded to Don's remark that she was a "side-kick" with the super-hero poem "Wonder Woman Returns to the Passenger Seat Lets Cat Woman Take the Wheel."

It was at this point that Brad returned to the room, fully inflated & (alas!) less than as hyped on the box, at which point the battery failed on my camera. Needless to say, there was much ado about nothing (or at least air & some surrounding plastic).  (The photo is by Carolee Sherwood, & shows the birthday boy & girl with Brad.)

Like I said, it was also Avery's birthday & he helped pack the house with his entourage to hear him read his birthday poem, "Where Did the Time Go?" & the confessional "Tequila & I Watch a Movie." His friend Adam Blythe was up next with creepy poems, one for his Mom about fighting Ninjas (I wonder if she believes him?), & another about sleeping with a dead body.

Jessica Layton's poems brought us back to more normal relations, reciting from memory an untitled piece about "almost walking away" & a poem about mutual love, "I Need That." Leslie Michelle also did poems about love, the just written "Losing You," & "Dreaming with You."

Our host, Mary Panza, introduced the night's last poet as "Host of the Universe." Not quite, but R.M. Engelhardt does host poetry readings at the Fuze Box (Vox) & at the UAG Gallery (Saint Poem); he read a long, whining rant supposedly referencing the recent non-Rapture titled "The Rain Poets," & about "All their poems that never change," that sounded like other such poems he's written. You can read this latest version on his website.

Most months of the year Poets Speak Loud! is on the last Monday of the month, 7:30PM sign-up, 8:00 PM start (but come early for dinner), at Mc Geary's, Clinton Square, Albany, NY. Sponsored by

May 24, 2011

Sunday Four Poetry, May 22

This series usually has a featured poet, but unfortunately today's feature, Rachel Ikins, couldn't make it, so it was just an open mic (which was just fine). Dennis Sullivan introduced the event, then Edie Abrams did the individual introductions.

Lloyd Barnhart was back again, starting with "Silver Justice" about the 1831 axe-murderer Frances "Frankie" Sliver, who was only 19 when she was hanged, then the test responses to the question, "Poetry Is…" & the timely "Left Behind" (but more like 5th grade). Michael Burke read recent poems from his journal of his trip to Mexico, one about an old dog, then a bicycle benefit for missing children, & attending an old friends burial "Poor Dave."

Carolee Sherwood's 3 poems seemed related (& with an oblique nod to yesterday's non-Rapture), "Zombies Talk in their Sleep" (just like you & I), then a strange piece about growing kidneys (no kidding), & a poem about escaping, "Earth's Lover Disagrees with Paul Simon." Mimi Moriarty returned us to the ax-murderer theme with a poem about a dream about her daughter, then 2 more about her daughter, "The Books of Strangers" & "Her Closet." I read 2 from Poeming the Prompt, the "Top-Tips…" & "November 23" (in the West-African form, the giambone), then dedicated the philosophical "At the Center" to Dennis Sullivan.  Therese Broderick showed off a couple poems in a form she invented called a selene (ancient Greek for "moon"), playing with sounds: "Selene 1: Moon of the Hand-made paper" & "Selene 2: Moon of the Magnolias."

Joe Krausman did just 1 poem, "Be Good to Me," like a song with it's easy rhythm & lilting rhymes. Speaking of forms, Stephen Leslie read poems in the Japanese form "haibun" (& his hybrid version): "Second-Hand Cake" (inspired by working in a homeless shelter), "Knife" (stories of being robbed at knife-point), & one for his daughter, "Brigid."

When Obeeduid (Mark O'Brien) read his tee-shirt, Mike Burke said it counted as a poem, but Mark went on to read 3 poems anyways, the first from a series on the random paint patterns on the windows of a garage door, "We Folded Together" written on a paper towel, & a dream poem inspired by falling asleep watching an old Western on TV. Tom Corrado's first poem "But I Do" was a narrative, if I followed it properly, then he pondered "The Garden of Unearthly Delights," & I don't think I have to tell you what he did in "On Listening to John Cage's 4 minutes 33 Seconds" (if you know the piece).

Dennis Sullivan was characteristically philosophical, thinking about the passage of Time in a poem dedicated to his sister Rita, "Remembering When," then "Ode to a Sad One," & "A Beatitude" pondering "the naked soul of poesy." Go figure that self-proclaimed Atheist Howard Kogan had 3 religious poems, returning to the theme of the Rapture, "May 22, 2011" (a cash-only Rapture), then wry humor on the creation myth in "Lilith," then the holy images debunked in "Not All Who Are Called Answer."  Jim Williams was also thinking about the meaning of Life/the Universe, all the big questions, with "I'd Rather be Doomed than Dislodged" filled with contemporary & historical figures & Kali & ancient Greeks, & then "Shadow Poet," & ended with "The Waterless Flood Part 2."

Former city-girl Edie Abrams gave a nod to Obeeduid with "I Awaken to the Song of Birds," getting used to the sounds of nature.

Dennis Sullivan gave out drafts of the flyers for next season's Sunday Four Poetry, starting in September. There is one more reading this season, 4th Sunday in June, 3PM, Old Songs Community Center, Voorheesville, NY, before they take the summer off. Catch it when you can.

Poet-Soldiers Reading, May 21

This reading was held at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Kingston, a monthly open mic, with a featured reader, hosted by Micky Shorr. This month, in conjunction with the upcoming Memorial Day, the feature poets were veterans, all members of Veterans For Peace. I am always honored & humbled to be reading with these warrior-peacemaker-poets.

But first a couple open mic poets. Annie LaBarge read 3 memoir poems about her father & her mother, including "Mouse House" about her mother doing her hair. Leslie Gerber read a cluster of political poems; among others, "Meeting the President" is a fantasy of metaphorically assaulting President Bush, & the march of the dead in "It's Called Memorial Day."

Thomas Brinson was the first of the veterans to read. He began with "Eyes," written in a bar in Viet Nam in 1967, then a poem from 1968 after he was discharged from the Army in which he declares war irrelevant, then a poem from last year, "In Memoriam for Countless Civilian Casualties."

Jim Murphy read poems about "The Wall" (the memorial in Washington D.C.), the first poem by fellow veteran Gerald McCarthy about the dedication of The Wall, then 2 poems of his own: "Black Granite Panel" on what The Wall doesn't tell us (a touching memorial to a high school friend who was killed in Viet Nam), & his own poem on the dedication ceremony, "November 13, 1982."

Walt Nygard is not only a veteran but the parent of a son serving in Afghanistan, & read from his chapbook The Summer Joe Joined the Army & Other Poems (Post Traumatic Press, 2010). He read a section from the title poem, then "Echo 2/4" contrasting Humvees here with the war in Iraq, "Stupid Head," "Photo of a Night Firing: Bravo 4/25" (in Afghanistan), & ended with a recent poem about peace vigils in Nyack, NY, "Honk for Totalitarnism."

Jay Wenk is an US Army veteran of World War II & author of the memoir Study War No More: A Jewish Kid from Brooklyn Fights the Nazis.  He began with "Twinkling in an Eye," a poem about Spring from a series about the seasons, then the political piece, "We Need To Talk," & a memoir of a World War I vet in Brooklyn in 1933, "Frenchy."

Each vet reader introduced the next, sometimes in humor, but always with respect, so I had the distinct honor of being introduced by Jay. As I have been doing the last few open mics, I read from my new chapbook Poeming the Prompt, beginning tonight with "Top-Tips for Anxiety-Free Writing from Prompts," then the peace poems "What Really Happened" & "Fast & Slow," & ended with "The Lesson."

So then I had the pleasure to introduce Larry Winters, the author of The Making & Un-Making of a Marine (Millrock Writers Collective, 2007). His poems were serious, political, beginning with the grim "Who's Accountable for the Enemy's Dead?" then "Fire When You See the Market Drop" (with it's chilling refrain "if you can't understand it, just pull the trigger"), then a poem just written, & untitled, in the rough, tough-guy voice, covering his fears.

The final vet reader was Dayl Wise, publisher of Post Traumatic Press. He began with a poem from World War I by Siegfried Sassoon, "Does it Matter?" His own poems reflected on his service in Viet Nam, from "First Cut" (that emblematic first Army haircut), to the recently written "Thanksgiving '69" (explaining to his family that the overseas cap is called a "cunt cap"), to seeing the dead of Viet Nam while out with friends at home in "Road Kill."

The evening ended with a few more open mic poets, including Alison Koffler, who instead of reading one of her own fine poems, read from a poem by a high school student, Brian Pascal, the tough & tender political rant "This Is For."  Our host Micky Shorr read 2 poems of family conflict & stress, "No Exit" & "The Absolute Rule." Bobbie Katz had to borrow Jay Wenk's reading glasses to read 2 persona poems on distant wars, one in the voice of Penelope in 325 B.C. "Returning Home" & the other based on her own memories of being on the home front during World War II.

This is a regular series at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 320 Sawkill Road, Kingston, starting at 7PM, on the 3rd Saturday. Information at 845-331-2884.

May 22, 2011

Third Thursday Poetry Night, May 19

While some folks huffed & puffed in the Park in the annual Corporate Run, we gathered at the Social Justice Center to read & listen to poetry, with our featured poet, Mary Eliza Crane. To start, I invoked the Muse in the form of poet & activist Audre Lord, then into the open mic. With only a handful of poets there at start time (more arrived later) I allowed 2 poems (don't get any ideas for future readings!).

First up was Bob Sharkey with 2 sections from his long poem, "Discursive," the first a tale of catching squirrels, then a tribute to an old Buick. Joe Krausman pondered the philosophical/metaphysical with "Smart People Do Dumb Things." Michael Purcell was back after an absence, with a self-published book of poems (don't we all), & read from it "No Destination" & "The Original Sin" (the birth of money). Anthony Bernini's poem "The Dance of Dish & Glass" is a portrait of "an older woman who is dear to me," as he said.

The featured poet, Mary Eliza Crane, has been traveling throughout upstate New York the last 3 weeks, reading her poems. I had caught her first reading early in the month at Caffè Lena  & this was her last reading before flying back to the Pacific Northwest. Her reading was pretty much what she had done at Caffe Lena, which was fine with me -- good to hear those poems again & new to the audience here. The weather was pleasant & she read barefoot & without the mic, poems of nature & her family.

After the break I read "What Really Happened" from Poeming the Prompt.  Brian J. Liston drove up from Saugerties to join us & read the multi-part "Mission" (about donating books to kids) & "Cracks" as useful to an author. Moses Kash III began with a long autobiographical introduction, then into his poem mentioning the attacks on Pakistan & Libya. Sylvia Barnard's poem, "Christopher Slaughterford" was about a 300 year old murder mystery in England. Jill Crammond brought us closer to today with a poem, "The Skin & Ribs Dog," about being bitten by a dog when she was 11, a lesson from her father. To conclude, "Screamer" read a poem about her sobriquet (turns out it is from a rock song she likes), filled with longing for the ocean & Asbury Park, then ended with more longing, for a younger boy, "Pillowhead."

10 open mic poets & a featured reader made for an enjoyable night of poetry, here at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY, third Thursday of each month, 7:30PM.

May 19, 2011

The Saint Poem Reading Series, May 16

This is a new series in only its 2nd month at the UAG Gallery on Lark St., hosted by Albany's perennial poetry entrepreneur, R.M. Engelhardt. This was the first one I was able to get to, & I got there late as well. I missed the first round of open mic poets & the featured poet, Steven Minchin, was just getting going when I got there. He had done the right thing, packing the audience with his friends, & everyone except me seemed to have a beer.

Steven Minchin is not someone who frequents the open mics in town so it was my first chance to hear his work. His titles are funny (i.e., quirky) word plays, such as "Cosmonauts Afraid of Foam in their Seats," "Blues Psalm 13 1/3" & "Duet Whispering Out," almost as if they were composed of random words. Many of his poems, such as "Grand Marshall We're Lost" & the Frank O'Hara/New York City -inspired poem "This Radiant Boy" dealt with gay passion & love, & he gave us his version of his biographical introduction in the long, whimsical Biolab 111.

After a smoke break Rob brought those of us that was left back with ee cummings' poem "somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond…" Bless recited 2 pieces, the pondering of beginnings & ends & Faith in the poem "Death" & a poem he wrote in his teen-age years for a hooker at Hunts Point. I selflessly promoted my new chapbook, Poeming the Prompt, by reading "What Really Happened" & "The Lesson."

The photographer Lona Cygnus read an emotional piece, "Trink," as a tribute to the late gallery owner & artist Nadia Trinkala.

Rob gave us one more round, of one poem each, to finish out the night. Todd Fabozzi read "The Other America" from the copy of his book Crossroads that he was giving to Rob. Late arrival Lisa Powell Graham read a long, rambling piece she called her "woman's anthem" that can be found on her Facebook Notes. KJ (aka Keith) Spencer also read from his smart-phone, the poem "Muse." Bless talked about his days with the Soul Kitchen reading series, & recited "Uninspired." I read "Poeming" from my chapbook. Steve Minchin did more of his word play, a poem containing phrases such as "skin flinch turns". & Rob ended with his own poem defining "Truth."

This new series continues on the 3rd Monday of each month at the UAG Gallery on Lark St. in Albany, 7:30 sign-up, 8:00 PM start, with a featured poet & an open mic, hosted by RM Engelhardt.

May 10, 2011

Poetry + Prose, May 8

This is a series that I co-host with Nancy Klepsch at the Arts Center of the Capital Region on River St. in Troy, NY, so of course I'm only going to say great things about it, but then that's not difficult because so many fine local writers show up.

Speaking of which, Jil Hanifan was up first with 2 crow poems, "Wheatfields with Crows" (after the Van Gogh painting), & the list poem, "Lies about the Crow." I actually signed up #2, read the "Top Tips for Anxiety-Free Writing from Prompts" from my new chapbook, Poeming the Prompt (A.P.D.), then the new poem "At the Center."

Kate Laity has been a fixture here since this series began & announced she will be in Ireland next year on a Fullbright grant; tantalizingly, she read about half of her story, "A Case of Dead Faces," where the main character meets the Buddha on a bus. David Wolcott's memoir of working on a horse ranch in Colorado when he was 19, & it's graphic images of horses mating got a rowdy response from the audience, oh yeah. Howard Kogan said he had been watching too much CNN so his poem "In News Closer to Home" imagined tribal warfare in the NYC boros & spreading to the small towns of Western Massachusetts, then "Folk Singer at the Senior Center" paid homage to singer Marilyn Miller, & he dedicated his moving poem "American Exports" to me & my peace-work (thank you Howard!).

Stephen W. Leslie read a couple of pieces that had been great hits at WordFest "Ornamental Cherry Tree" & the hysterical haibun "The Omega Retreat," then the equally amusing hippy tale "Did You Drop Something" (also a haibun). Ron Drummond began with an excerpt from a weblog entry on an essay by science-fiction writer William Gibson, then the opening scene of a novel-in-progress, an eating scene that grossed me out.

Barry Goldman read from his netbook (which Nancy pointed out was a first for this series), "The Possum," a poem based upon another poem by Richard Eberhart, then some reflections on the flood-tide of the Hudson around Troy, & ended with a short urban poem about flowers growing at the entrance to a subway station. Elizabeth Gordon, who had read so movingly in the Memoir Project, read 3 poems, the first about fishing with her father, then a piercing poem "The Professor" (who claimed to have no childhood trauma), & then from a series of poems in praise of the months of the year, "In April & May Gratitude." Nancy Klepsch ended the afternoon with "a bee poem" written this morning, responding to her allergies.

This reading, open to both prose & poetry, is held on the second Sunday of most months (we are taking July & August off), at the Arts Center in Troy. It's free & it's fun.

May 9, 2011

Half-Moon Books, May 7

Rebecca Schumejda runs this marvelous series out of the Half-Moon Bookstore on Front St. ("every city on a river has a Front St.") in Kingston, NY on a sort of random basis. Tonight she had 3 out of 4 poets show up for a relaxed evening of poetry, devoid of open micers.

First up was Albany poet Jill Crammond with her take on a disentegrating marriage with such poems as "A Short History of the Gardener's Marriage…" (some of her titles tend to be very long), "The Ex-Wife Balances the Joint Checking Account" with it's facile play on numbers & banking terms, & the cannibalistic "June Cleaver Finishes Off the Last of Her Husbands" (with its nod to absent feature Jason Crane). Some of her poems referenced the kids as well, such as the Curious George based "Carrots Don't Grow Overnight." & what's with the baby-sitters & the FBI?

Over the years I've seen a steady progression in the work of Christopher Wheeling & his selections tonight highlighted his more mature work, eclectic, whimsical & sometimes dreamy. For example, "Tea with the Mountain" is a response to a fortune cookie, & the title of "Weaponized Cuteness" is almost enough in itself. His poem "Remembering Jacob Cohen" is a re-telling of the Biblical hero as Rodney Dangerfield, & "Variations on 'The Metamorphosis'" is for fans of Kafka. In "Clockwork" he responded to a poetic challenge from Glen Werner, while the poem "Magnetic Field Two" was written in collaboration with Janet Hamill. He also read some of his ongoing dream poems, & ended with the poem "Escapism" in which the last word is "forget."

The third & final reader is one of Albany's most hard-working poets, Carolee Sherwood & of course (of course) she read her signature "relationship poems," starting with "Zombies Talk in their Sleep," then moving on to a room-of-her-own in "Boudoir." "Mine" used the images of mining to describe relationships. She read a series of short poems titled by the dates they were written which she described as from last year, her "Phillips road series," followed by the more recent "McGeary's Monday Night April 25." "The Way to the Store" is based on a poem by W.S. Merwin, the all-too-common experience of redoing an argument over & over. But lest you think her too serious, she also included "The Comic Book Version" (of herself) & ended with "Dear Reader" in which she makes fun of herself & Billy Collins.

This is a wonderful venue for readings, the poets & audience surrounded by rows & rows of books, & tonight was a grand mix of poets, good to hear bigger samples of their work than they usually get to read at open mics. The one sad note was that Jason Crane who had also been scheduled was unable to make it. Perhaps some other time.

May 8, 2011

NYS Writers Institute, May 5

The last of the season's readings was quite a performance by Ed Sanders. Before the evening event in the University at Albany's Campus Center Assembly Hall, Sanders held an informal seminar in the Standish Room of the Science Library.

Writers Institute Director Donald Faulkner led off the discussion which was followed by a number of questions from the audience. Sanders talked about his study of classical Greek at NYU, life in the East Village in the 1960s, the Peace Eye Bookstore & Fuck You: a Magazine of the Arts, his friendships with Allen Ginsberg & with Charles Olson, & his project to write the history of the United States in verse (he has completed the 20th Century & is currently working on the 19th Century). Other questions led him to a discussion of "investigative poetry," & of his writing of The Family, the story of Charles Manson & his cult.

Later in the Assembly Hall Sanders did a performance that paid tribute to his heroes, but first he addressed the issue of writers self-publishing their own works, citing the examples of William Blake, Walt Whitman, Wood Guthrie, Allen Ginsberg, & even Anton Chekov, & Jane Austen (this thrilled me because I had in my bag copies of my own self-published chapbook, Poeming the Prompt, just published the week before).

Sanders paid tribute to Albany-native Herman Melville by performing his update of the story of Bartleby the Scrivener, in Sanders' version the tale of a poet in Brooklyn who has to work 4 jobs in order to survive. He read & sang, complete with cackles, accompanying himself on his lyre.

The poet Robert Creeley was remembered at a college reading in the piece, "Creeley as Therapy" which can be found in Let's Not Keep Fighting the Trojan War (Coffee House Press, 2009).

The beautiful & tender tribute to Charles Olson, "Hymn to O," incorporated a refrain from Olson's own Maximus Poems, "I set out now in a box upon the sea."

Tuli Kupferberg was a poet who founded, with Sanders, the 1960s folk/rock/protest band The Fugs. Sanders sang/recited "Saying Goodbye" singing & chanting, "Tuli, Tuli…"

For Allen Ginsberg, Sanders read from Let's Not Keep Fighting the Trojan War "Live Free or Die" & the anecdote "Ginsberg in India," then sang the tribute, "He was one of my heroes… the River of Freedom flows…"

Finally, after all these tender tributes, he ended his performance with the most tender of all, a poem to his wife Miriam. He said that Miriam encourages him not to be such a workaholic beatnik, so his poem celebrated "homo ludens" (playful humans) & Miriam going out on the lawn in "her loose peace-gown" to dance the polka.

It was a marvelous performance, a tribute not only to Ed Sanders' heroes, but to Ed himself & his life as a "homo ludens." There is more to come.

May 7, 2011

Caffè Lena Open Mic, May 4

Back to Saratoga Springs in the Spring, ahh. Another fresh gathering of local poets & tonight's featured poet, Mary Eliza Crane.

But first the open mic, which our host Carol Graser led off with a poem from the anthology Listen Up! Bob Preuss began with "Spiral Bouquet," a poem in response to one of Sarah Craig's poems, then a long, rambling discourse on the Davidson sisters, a couple of 19th century poets who lived in Saratoga. I was up next to promote my new chapbook, Poeming the Prompt (A.P.D.), by reading "What Really Happened" & "Looking for Cougars" (which somehow I always associate with bars in Saratoga).

Barbara Garro added a touch of the bizarre, first by leaving a gigantic can of caramel sauce for the taking, then by performing 2 poems while wearing tap shoes, "Living Off Rhythm & Rhyme" & "The King's Cups" both with the same stomping accompaniment. Hamilton made a brief appearance with a short automatic-writing poem.

Mary Eliza Crane has ties to the Northeast but now lives in the Pacific Northwest. She read a mix of poems from her 2 poetry chapbooks, What I Can Hold in My Hands (2009) & At First Light (2011), both from Gazoobi Tales Publishing, as well as other poems. Interestingly, she read her poems without any introductory remarks, letting the poems stand for themselves, & without reading the titles. This was fine, since her poems are simply stated & direct, with images from nature & everyday life. She began with her family history in "Irish Wake" & returned with other poems about her father, "My Father's Sweater," "Flashback," & another that began "I buried my father down by the river…" Most of her poems were set outdoors in the natural world, such as "The Axe," "Frozen Wetland," "Hunger," & the compelling "Naked in the Rain." A peaceful reading, sort of like her beloved forest.

After a break, Carol Graser read an excerpt from her poem "Dear One," from her collection The Wild Twist of Their Stems (Foot HIlls Publishing, 2007). Steve Pillar had read here last year, was back with a couple pieces in rhyme, "Oh LIttle Child" & "An Encounter." Kate's 2 poems were short & poignant, the second, "Why Can't We Stay Here?" about trying to avoid death.

Charles Watts' first poem was in the persona of a WWII American interred in Japan, in Nagasaki, & "Alone in the Dark Behind the Garage," written 2 days ago, has him looking at the stars. W.D. Clarke's 2 short rhymes were both funny, "The Other Grandma" using a chamber pot as a serving dish, & "The Sign on the Tent" was about paying the consequences of the 2nd bowl of chili.

Tracy Oatfield read an excerpt from the the Persian mystical book, The Seven Valleys. Kevin Peterson's first poem was a haiku about french fries that he just wrote at dinner, while his longer poem, "Deviant Behavior" took place in a classroom as the world burns. Gordon Haymon was the last poet for the night with a descriptive memoir in rhyme of "Third Beach Creek," & then a poem about an auction.

Poetry is alive & well, including in Saratoga Springs, thanks to Carol here at the historic Caffè Lena, 1st Wednesday of each month, 7:30PM, $3.00.

May 4, 2011

Albany Poets Presents!, May 3

I got to the bar at Valentine's somewhere between 7:30 & 8:00 & there were already 5 people signed up, so I knew this was going to be a different night than all the others. While waiting to start, el presidente, Thom Francis, our MC/host, was lamenting the loss of one of his more memorable poems, "Paper Messiah," that he couldn't find a copy anywhere, that he had never typed it up. Then when he got up to the mic, lo & behold, there was the poem in his trusty pocket notebook -- a good piece about poets & personalities & attitudes.

Mojavi took the stage next, & one of his entourage said he was a "Blackberry poet," of course referring to the electronic device he was reading from. But it called to mind the old expression "the blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice." His first poem, "State of Education" is posted on the website, then he read the lonely, sex & longing poem, "I've Kept it Hidden from You."

Chris Arquiett also read from a hand-held electronic device, but the poems were not his, but those of his companion at the bar, Kerry Giangrande. Both poems were untitled (or the titles not read), the first Mojavi described as a "sexy-ass poem," the second described her feelings when hearing that Osama bin Ladin had been killed. Chris did a good job in reading his friend's poems, but maybe the next time Kerry will read her own work.

Another new face & voice, Allyson Cobbins recited her poem about what she puts on when she goes out, "Shades." Keith Spencer was still another poet reading from his machine, first "The Lion Sleeps," which got some of us at the bar singing "a-wimoweh-a-wimoweh…", then an untitled piece with the classic he/she back & forth.

Next up was Jessica Layton, reading old-school style from a composition notebook, first "Imtimacy" about taking your time with love, then a poem about struggle & choice, "Present." I was up next, promoting my new chapbook from A.P.D. (also publishes dirt) Poeming the Prompt, by reading "Poeming" & "Looking for Cougars." Then Thom Francis was back with a something he said he forgot he wrote, "I Am Not Skinner's Box."

& finally, apologies to Gary Murrow who apparently read while I was in the Men's room & I missed his reading. Maybe the next time.

First Tuesdays, Valentines on New Scotland Ave., Albany, 8PM.