August 5, 2011

Poets in the Park, July 30

The season's last in the series, with poets Alan Catlin & Marie-Elizabeth Mali, under clear skies & quite pleasant summer weather in the Park.

Schenectady resident & much-published poet Alan Catlin read first, puzzled why he would have "work-anxiety dreams" while on vacation & being retired, his "Work-Anxiety Dream #6, The Bus" prompted by a bus trip in England's Lake District. Next, he summed up his whole career working in bars in "The Hole." Other poems included a true story "Hugh Casey & Ernest Hemingway the Artist & the Ball Player", "In Dreams," "Auralee in Striped Pajamas," & a poem on political poems with a long title beginning, "On a Poetry's Professor Assumptions …" There was a poem to a prompt (on the incessant hum of the refrigerator), another from a vacation in England, "Standing on the Grave of Jane Austen" & a recent poem imagining "Amy Winehouse at 45." A couple of zombie poems ran together, one bouncing off a remark of Raymond Carver's on what we speak of when we speak of love. He ended with a classic poem about riding the bus to Schenectady, "Our Lady of the 55" (that could be still another zombie poem), beginning & ending with a bus poem. At one point during his reading Alan was interrupted by the sound of sirens (as happens sometimes here at Poets in the Park), happily not coming to take him away.

Marie-Elizabeth Mali is the author of the new collection of poems Steady, My Gaze. She began by reciting "History of My Body," a generational autobiography. Then "Subway" in honor of Alan's bus poems. "Whiskers & Gristle" was a poem of faith. Then the marvelous new poem about dancing, "Ain't Nobody's Business," a "bop," a form invented by Afaa Michael Weaver. She dedicated "The Diver" for the performance poet David Blair who died recently, much too young. A new poem written this week ("new shit!"), "Ode to the Mind," was followed by "Late Summer Prayer" to the hummingbirds she has seen around her house this summer. She also read a selection from the 3rd section of Steady, My Gaze, on family & relationships, love poems, including a series of 5 poems, one for each year of marriage. Another from that section "To the 5-Inch Stilettos I Didn't Buy 12 Years Ago" was written to a prompt, but a tender love poem too. She ended as she began with a poem from memory, written this April, "Fish Gotta Swim." She said she was pleased & honored to read here, as we were as pleased & honored to hear her as our last Poet in the Park for this season.

The reading was followed by a poets' party at the Poetry Motel Hotel Convention Center & Spa, honoring not only our great featured poets but our equally great audience.

The series was co-sponsored by the Poetry Motel Foundation & the Hudson Valley Writers Guild.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

From Therese L. Broderick -- glad to learn of a new poetry form, the "bop."