February 29, 2012

Nitty Gritty Slam, February 21

Tonight, much to the chagrin of the official Slam bartender Kim, we were upstairs at Valentines to make room for a band in the usual poets' spot. We were just as funky & even louder to carry our voices over the sound of electric guitars & drums.

There was a respectably outrageous selection of poets signed up for the open mic, with Jess Listen to my Words, Leslie Michelle, Bless, D. Alexander Holiday, & Mojavi (riffing off "Moody's Mood for Love").

I had taken a week off from the Slam, but decided to jump back in tonight. The late addition of Jessica, who had also read at the open mic, brought the field up to 5 (= N) so that my performance of the 3 Guys from Albany classic "Physics" put me in 5th place, beaten out (or off) by Jess's masturbation poem.

But notable performances for the night were Shannon (In the Money) Shoemaker's newest piece, her advice for Slam competitors to "Whip it out", be that a strap-on or the real thing, & later in the second round, Elizag's piece that takes a slice from her memoir of helping a family to raise triplet boys in North Philadelphia, Walk With Us.

You can check out all the all the up-to-date Slam results at AlbanyPoets.com. Anywho, it is on the 1st & 3rd Tuesdays of the month at Valentines (usually downstairs), 7:30, with an open mic, $5.00 (or less with student ID).

February 25, 2012

Third Thursday Poetry Night, February 16

Back at the Social Justice Center, a wonderful night of the voices of "regulars" & new voices too.

We began the reading invoking the night's muse, poet Bob Kaufman with a couple of his poems. Tonight's featured poet is frequently first on the sign-up sheet here, but instead in his place it was the closest possible morpheme match, Alan Casline, with a just-written poem about comparing local hotdogs, "Famous Lunch." A.C. Everson read the short poem "Wendy" from her self-published chapbook, Love A.C. Style.  Sylvia Barnard wrote about visiting a Cistercian monastery, "Execution." D. Alexander Holiday reprised his boisterous audience-participation piece, "The Poem is the Bomb" oh yes indeed!

I've been a fan of Alan Catlin's work since before I moved back here 25 or so years ago, & he has read in the Third Thursday series previously, back in 1999 during Hurricane Floyd. He is also one of the most loyal of Third Thursday open mic poets, usually signing up #1. Tonight he read from his new book Alien Nation (March Street Press, 2011), which I had read it on a recent trip to Florida & the poems in it inspired the poem I read later after the break. But first he began with some recent poems, "My Dream Date with Frida Kahlo," a recent work from a series of "dream date" poems; then "Sex with Aliens" from a suggestion at the Caffe Lena open mic, & "The Health of the Sick". Describing Alien Nation as his "Jean-Paul Sartre No Exit collection" from his career as a bar tender, he read a generous selection from the 4 sections book, grim, chilling portraits of daytime as well as nighttime denizens lurking along mahogany ridge, more than enough for a lifetime.

After the break I read my poem "Arts Festival, Delray Beach," inspired by Alan's book.
Laura Hartmark said she hadn't done this "in a long time," read a bop (cf. the work of Aafa Michael Weaver) based on the Billy Holiday song, "I Cover the Waterfront" for Valentine's Day. Another new face/voice up was Janastasia Whydra reading a poem she had workshopped for a class, a Winter blackout in Boston. Leslie Michelle has finally gotten her voice back, but instead of her own poem, read Pedro Petri's "January Hangover." Poetyc Visionz did his poem as Time & it is not on his new CD. Still another new voice was Sabrina who read an untitled piece with vivid images of a woman struggling for breath, for life. Mojavi was the last poet signed up for the night, with a love/sex & anger poem.

The Third Thursday Poetry Night at the Social Justice Center is held on the third Thursday of the month at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY, 7:30, for a modest (or immodest, if you prefer) donation.

February 20, 2012

ASK Hosts the Hosts, February 12

A busy poetry day for me. After the Poetry + Prose reading in Troy I high-tailed it down to Kingston to the Arts Society of Kingston, 97 Broadway, for a special reading by 10 hosts of area open mics. Unfortunately Cheryl Rice who had been scheduled to read was not there. The MC/host for tonight was Lew Gardner, who started off us off with one of his poems, "Thoughts While Down-wind of the Catfood Factory" (with a nod to William Wordsworth). Lew limited each of us to 8 minutes, & brought along his kitchen timer, which ended up becoming one of the characters in the night's event.

Going in reverse alphabetical order, first up was Chris Wood (Heyday Poetry Series, Half-Moon Books, Kingston). Appropriately he started off by reading a tribute to the hosts of open mics, "Receiving the Host," then a poem on a meteor shower "Outside of Beauty," another outside poem, "Waiting for Dawn," & ending with a song from Van Morrison's 1968 album, Astral Weeks. I was up next with 2 poems about the readings & poets of Albany, "Where Were the Professors?" & "One Poem (for Changing Spaces Gallery)" & ended with the new hot pants poem, "Southwest Flight 2095, Seat 8A," just as the bell rang at the last line.

Glenn Werner's poems are meditative & philosophical, usually set outdoors, "Winter Harbor Maine," "What the Cherry Tree Said," "St. Joan Confessional," & the portrait of a social scene, "The Gators of Venice, Florida."

Micky Shorr had some of AlbanyPoets read at her venue at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Kingston a few months ago. Tonight she started off with the funny memoir, "Sex Education," then what a poet writes about, "Not Just Whining." Also, "Vitals," a memoir of dinner "Digestive Disorder," "Body Love," & a poem about the murder of a Yeshiva boy in Brooklyn "Many Wars." She ended with a poem for her new grandson, "First Year."

Last year I read with other veteran's on Memorial Day at Michael Platsky's open mic at the Harmony Cafe in Woodstock. He read a couple of long pieces for, & inspired by, Allen Ginsberg, "Letter to Ginsberg" & "America 2011" & as he read the word "telephone" towards the end of the poem, the timer bell went off, as if it had been rehearsed.

Robert Milby is the whirling dervish of mid-Hudson & environs poetry venues. His poems were also inspired by the outdoors world, "Deer on a January Night," "Beethoven's 9th Piano Sonata" (Autumn to Winter), then a poem on how poets' lives end "Van Gogh," & "Hudson River in Winter," love & magic & remembering another gone poet.

Phillip Levine currently hosts Chronogram Open Word in Kingston & the Woodstock Poetry Society. He started off with a poem referencing the readings once held at the Colony Cafe, a poem about himself, "Tonight's Feature." "My Night in Treadwell" was "a prose song" about being the featured poet at Bertha Roger's series, & he ended with what sounded like a dream poem "No Bottom Lake."

Judith Lechner hosts Writers' Night at Cafe Mezzaluna in Saugerties. She began with some haiku, then the love poem "Long Running Box Office Hit;" "Island Clocks" was about Mexico, & in "The Web" her thoughts build a refuge for her.

Mike Jurkovic, who runs Calling All Poets at the Howland Cultural Center in Beacon, began with a memoir of his youth in New Jersey, & ended with a poem about the evacuation route out of the State. In between he read about youthful playing with works, a couple of poems on revolt, "Zuccoti" & "Growing Old Rebels" & a short ecological piece.

Teresa Costa's poems are generally short so she could get a lot in in 8 minutes. Many of her poems were outside too, in her garden, watching a thunder storm, "Life in the Woods," "Goddess Gone Fishing," a wonderful love poem to her husband, & "The 6th Day" with its play on the word "image."

It was a novel idea to get so many of the poetry open mic hosts in the same room at the same time to listen to each other.   & there were many other fine poets from the area listening in the audience as well.

February 15, 2012

Poetry + Prose, February 12

The second Sunday at 2 reading at the Arts Center of the Capital District in Troy, NY, with tag-team hosts Nancy Klepsch & me, Dan Wilcox. It was an eclectic mix of writers (which, of course, was the intent when the Arts Center started this open mic).

First one up was Bob Sharkey who said he had finished last year's poem-a-day assignment, now on to a word-a-day, & so into "Another Deposition," then to a piece about a confrontation at a party, "Benefit" (in honor of New York photographer Bill Cunningham) , then "Doctor Doctor." Carolee was back after an absence with a new poem, "Crows on the 1st Cold Night of February," then what I think is a first, read one of her Blog posts, "The Sun Mother-Fucker."

Harvey Havel, who as a prose writer does not read out much, read a thoughtful piece on a black man dressed as a Muslim un-codes the world & helps a white, Christian drunk. Tim Verhaegen plumbed the depths of his family relationships to analyze why he hates abused victims memoirs, & left us laughing.

Casey Wald was a first-timer here & read an ironically touching memoir of phone calls from bill collectors for a debt from her deceased son. Of course February is Black History Month & D. Alexander Holiday was here, as he said, to represent, with "Little Brown Baby" by Paul Lawrence Dunbar & another poem on Bessie Smith, then his own poem "Monsters" from his latest book Emails from Satan's Daughter (Xlibris), stretching his 5 minutes to 12. To celebrate the birthday of Charles Darwin, Howard Kogan read 2 pieces on a theme, first "God's Regrets" (i.e. "why Man?" Of course, it was Mark Twain who noted that God created Man because he was "disapppointed in the monkey"), then pondering human insignificance, "Evolution." Ron Drummond (who often reads sci-fi fiction) presented a dramatic reading of an excerpt of his play set in England in 1576, with a young William Shakespeare.

David Wolcott returned to his memoir, today with a section about his big break into government energy policy during the Carter administration. Joe Krausman pondered the impact of cars on our psyches (& live) in his poem "The Wheeled God," then a poem about revival sauces & a Christian Mass & "Unanswered Prayers." A school teacher, my co-host Nancy Klepsch read a 6-word memoir she had written with her students, then one of her student's marvelous results, then to a work-in-progress, playing with repetition on the language of war. Heather Haskins read a prose selection, "Collusion," from a longer memoir, in which she meets her aunt's long-time abuser, a most uncomfortable tale. Brett Axel rounded out the afternoon with a sestina-in-progress, contrasting politics of the nation & of a household, then the hilarious "I Rule" from his book Rules (Minimal Responsibility Press, 2004).

This continuing open mic is at the Arts Center, 265 River St., Troy, NY on the 2nd Sunday of most months at 2PM -- open to writers in all genres -- & it's Free!

February 9, 2012

Nitty Gritty Slam #11, February 7

After competing in the Slam for the last few times, & coming in 2nd in Slam #10,  I was a judge for the first time tonight. I read in the open mic & not in the Slam, & thus eligible to be a judge. I have my "issues," as folks like to say about such things, with Slam. Primarily it is my dislike of competition in the Arts in general, of the hierarchy of "this is better than that." Defenders of Slam will say "it's all in good fun," but in reality, at Slam events there are fist fights in the parking lots over scoring, who's better, my belt is not a prompt, etc. (not here -- not yet). & then there is the so-called scoring: there is no criteria per se. Each judge (often someone at a poetry reading for the first time) have their own agenda (or not), & none of them match. So on a night like this night when 10s sprang up like hardons at a toga party, I was the "curmudgeon" with the 7.9s & 8.3s.

So here is my agenda:
A 10 is a perfect score. Any faltering, hesitation, hiccup in the performance is less than perfect; few real poems are perfect; a derivative, stylized performance is not perfect. 10s should be as rare as the appearance of the deity, as rare as the perfect date, Bo Derek in a string bikini. From a practical point of view, assigning a 10 to anyone leaves you no options if you think someone later is better. Also, since the highest score & the lowest score in a round are dropped, scoring a 10 is meaningless, unless you are in cahoots with another judge who also scores a 10, the 10 will just be dropped.

The scoring is all skewed to the top of the range. No one gives a 5 or lower (except the occasional 0 -- at Slam #1 I was scored a 10 & a 0, go figure). Based on the scores given, this night's Slam could have easily been scored on a 0 to 5 scale.

3 minutes. Now that's the limit, the maximum, not a target length to reach by padding your piece with repetition & every-expanding digression. This is Slam poetry not Slam essays; poetry is what is said in 1 page that a prose writer takes 10 pages to say. I know you lose points if you go over 3 minutes, but if you've already said your piece & keep going, & I'm one of the judges, I'm going to get very cranky.

"This is not a poem, this is an attitude" -- There's an old saying that the perfect Slam champion is a multi-racial, disabled, immigrant, trans-gendered lesbian. I like political poems & have even written my share. In fact this night I scored Thom Francis' well-performed anti-military piece (he was the sacrificial lamb, meant as a way for the judges to "calibrate" their scoring prior to an actual contestant) as a 9.0 -- a good (political) poem performed well -- & used it as my touchstone for the night (i.e., was this poem/performance better or not as good as Thom's). But when a poet takes on a "I'm-more-oppressed-than-you" attitude & the poem doesn't confront the issue, just rails against it, she/he is not going to get much from me. Tenesha's poem "Terrible Stories" (that she read from a notebook) was a wonderful example of how to present/confront racism without "playing the race-card" -- a thoughtful, vivid poem built around a seemingly simple story.

Same with self-referential poems about Slam &/or how great it is to be a Poet. Most of us found our identity through writing, now get over it & write a real poem. In fact, Kevin Peterson's piece about writing "lyrics" at the bar was a good example of how to do it right, a poem about writing (& more) without being whiney (although I think he performed it better at Steamer 10 on Friday night, but nevermind).

Just because you got it memorized doesn't mean it's better. I've heard lots of great performances read from paper, notebooks, even smart phones or laptops, & lots of predictable copy-cat/cookie-cutter performances from folks who learned their gestures, phrasing, even their accents all from the same Slam coach. Memorizing may set the bar higher for the performance, but I'd still rather hear a great poem read badly than a great performance about nothing. I know that's not "How you win a Slam," but I'm in it for the writin' not the recitin'.

So if you see me with the marker & a judge's clipboard, beware -- I am the curmudgeon judge prick. But know that whatever score you got, I thought about it. If you think it's too low it doesn't mean I don't like you, just write a better poem next time.

You can catch the Slam (& often me) on the 1st & 3rd Tuesdays of the month at Valentines on New Scotland Ave., Albany (NY), $5.00 (or less with student ID), 7:30 for the open mic. Visit AlbanyPoets.com for more information.

February 8, 2012

The Collective Presents: Love Jones Open Mic Extravaganza, February 3

The Steamer 10 Theater, 500 Western Ave. in Albany, NY was packed, literally standing-room-only for this variety show event. Bless & Bklyn Shay shared the hosting/MC duties, for a while that is until Bless disappeared & Shay had to kick off the stunning shoes that hurt her feet & take on the duties alone. It was a couple hours of an exciting mix of Love & Sex (inspite of what your mother may have told you, they are often the same thing!) in words, music, fashion & fancy moves -- & give-aways for the ladies.

Some of the more frequent faces on the poetry scene (in addition to Bless) performed, such as Poetyc Visionz (with back up singer, Allison) with a piece from his new CD -- when you see him, buy it), Leslie Michelle (never seen her quite so sexy), & Kevin Peterson. I didn't realize it was an open mic -- apparently you had to speak to Bklyn Shay to get on the list, which I didn't know, otherwise there would have been 2 white boys on the program.

It was good to see Nicky Negrito (i.e., Black) performing again, & I recall seeing Q Diamond performing her poems some time in the past. & who could forget ever having heard Naughty Poetry with her XXXX-rated poems, tonight doing "Cum With Me" ? Phew! L Majesty sang, but most of the ladies I suspect just watched. Self always seemed surprised to be up there, & there was Lady Sunshine & Stag Money & Poetess & Indy & others whose names I didn't quite catch. The night's virgin, Black Butterfly, first did one piece to "the ladies who give too much" & then the heated "Ode to My Beautiful Black Man."

In addition, there was a lip-synced dance spectacle with the group called Elements & the very sexy models. C Her Sparkle showcased these same sexy models in some of her fashion creations & gave out gift bags containing her jewelry & even shoes to some of the lucky ladies in the audience.

Both Ric Chesser from Steamer 10 & the folks from the Collective were looking to make this a regular event, & based on the talent & the turn-out I expect it will be, so watch for it.

February 7, 2012

Caffe Lena Open Mic, February 1

The house was packed for the 2 featured poets, Stu Bartow & Paul Pines, but, of course, much thinned out by the time the last open mic reader hit the stage. But first, our host, Carol Graser, began with a poem titled "A Bowl of Warm Air" by Moniza Alvi (if I got that right).

A quartet of Caffe Lena veterans started off the open mic: Alan Catlin, with "False Spring" (where the crazies come out), Carole Rossi Kenyon (I don't recall the middle name being used before -?) with a poem about cruising a party, Sue Jefts with 2 poems, one about her beloved Hudson River, & Carolee Sherwood reprising the poems she did at McGeary's (& I got the full title of "To My Friends on the 1st Day of the New Year" this time). Then 2 readers for whom it was their 1st time here. Catherine Norr read a poem about quilting ladies, "Shop Talk," then another about her hometown, "Crescent City Riverside Chat" (i.e., New Orleans, LA). Carl Dana read "The Widow's Awakening," then a garland of seasonal haikus (setting off a theme for the evening).

Paul Pines was the proprietor of my local bar, the jazz joint, The Tin Palace, when I lived on 2nd St. in NYC in the mid-1970s. & when I moved back to upstate New York many years later I was pleased to see he was not only one of the region's practicing writers but also still creating jazz events in the area, specifically the Lake George Jazz Festival each September. He has written poetry, novels, & memoirs. Tonight he read from a work that combines poetry & memoir with history & anthropology, Reflections in a Smoking Mirror: Poems of Mexico & Belize (Dos Madres Press, 2011). I've enjoyed reading this book, awash in imagery as lush as the tropics & hearing the poems in Paul's voice only made the poems more vivid.

Stu Bartow was back as featured poet, having been featured at Caffe Lena back in October of 2009. He read briefly from a new book Questions for the Sphinx (WordTech Editions, 2011), then on to some new poems about physics & astronomy, such as "Chaos Theory," "Love in the Age of Global Warming," & "Absolute Zero " (based on Wallace Steven's "The Snow Man"). Other poems included "Hades & Grand Central Station," & a beguiling poem about Albert Einstein helping a young neighbor with her math homework. Stu was very generous with his books, offering a number of his recent publications at discount prices so he "didn't have to lug them home."

Carol Graser returned us to the open mic with her cleverly constructed poem "The Haiku" (with the poetic form as a person). Tim Snyder was the first with of a couple of poems who referenced back to the divorce poem of Carloee Sherwood, with "Window Gazing," then the more passionate "Tranquility." Ed Wilks was the first of a series of the night's poetry virgins, with a poem titled "Set Me Down Set Me Straight," & another on looking back to his youth as Time passes. I followed with a remembrance of last week's Florida vacation, "Arts Festival, Delray Beach" done in the style (or almost) of Alan Catlin's poems in his recent book Alien Nation, then a trio of Winter haikus. Another poetry virgin, Don Mangiana's poems were in short line rhymes, the first about cats, the second about a dog. Alan Casline said his poem "Four-Fold Vision of the Vale of Tawasentha" was "a clever-mind poem" based on William Blake's series of paintings & engravings on Dante.

Meredith's 2 poems were both tilted "Hooked" & were both brief love poems. Charles Watts' poems ran the gamut from "Pissing on Pyote" to the tender gift of November mornings in the high peaks, "To My Granddaughter." Nancy DeNofio's memoir of her childhood, "A Quiet Place," was about a church confessional. W.D. Clarke read 2 family poems in ballad-style, as is his wont, the first about "The Rag Man," the second, titled "The Gift", was about his Aunt's gallstone, which he brought as a poet's show-&-tell, in case you ever want to know. Joe DeBerry read a poem for his friends titled "Over & Over Again," then referenced Carolee Sherwood's poems introducing his piece on men v. women.

Alex Gilmore modified the "1st time" claim as "1st time on stage -- sober" (one can only imagine); his poems were "The Finding" & "Moment of Peace." Patricia K. (or was that "Kay"?) read 2 similar, emotional, pieces about friends who have gone before, "Angel" & "Stan." Mary Cuffe Perez read 2 sections from her recently published novel in verse, Nothing By Name, based on a woman she knew in Galway, "Trick of Time" & "Going to Mill." Barbara Garro shared a poem she read at a friend's funeral, "Lost Day," then the commentary, "Social Schizophrenia." Tracy read from the work of Leroy Watts, whoever that may be. Sally Rhoades closed out the night with "I Contain Multitudes" in which she proclaims she is more Walt than Emity, then proved it with a poem (& a nod to Mike Burke's poetry) in which she pondered what if her father were a poet.

A long & dusty road, crowded with many fine local poets, what the Caffe Lena open mic is about every 1st Wednesday of the month, starting about 7:30PM for $3.00. If you don't know where/what Caffe Lena is, Google it.

February 3, 2012

Southwest Flight 2095, Seat 8A

        “Hot pants! --  James Brown

Waiting to board our plane
I watch the passengers leaving
the flight that just arrived
know one of them sat in the seat
I am about to take, share our
anonymous intimate relationship.

Then I see her, know that’s my seat
she’s been sitting in for the last 2 hours
the tall woman with bleached hair
not afraid to show black roots
wear a black leather jacket
knee-length black boots, &
black leather hot pants.

     She walks down the aisle
     I see her smile
     & her
     black     leather     hot pants

     She’s looking really cute
     wears knee-high boots
     black     leather     hot pants

     I watch her pass
     & admire her ass
     & her
     black     leather     hot pants

The flight home had never been so sweet.

February 2, 2012

Tom Nattell Memorial Beret Toss & Open Mic, January 30

Since 2005 this has been an annual event, first at the Lark Tavern, now at McGeary's on Clinton Square in Albany (NY). We started in 2005 when Poets Speak Loud! began as an open mic on the last Monday in January. Tom Nattell, who had been the host of the last Monday open mic at the QE2 punk-rock club on Central Ave. for many years, was the scheduled poet for the inaugural reading, but left us that very AM due to cancer. That year, & for many others, after the open mic we trekked to the statue of Robert Burns in Washington Park to ceremoniously place a beret on the head of Robert Burns in Tom's memory.  When the Lark Tavern succumbed to flames a couple years ago & the monthly open mic moved to McGeary's the memorial "beret toss" has taken place before the reading. This year a new wrinkle was added:  a "pre-game" party held at the apartment on Willett St. of "statuesque" poet Carolee Sherwood -- it was a dazzling array of poets for beer, wine & cheese.

About a dozen or so showed up for the "beret toss" which Ed Rinaldi facilitated, then on to dinner, drinks & snarky remarks at Tess Collins' McGeary's. For the open mic I was the guest  host (another tradition of this event), with 17 signed up. Most of us were clustered around the communal center table, ably served throughout the night by the lovely & every efficient Allison. I began with a short poem for Tom, "Theology 101," then on into the open mic, "old school."

First up was the venerable Sylvia Barnard, a veteran of Tom's Readings Against the End of the World & the open mic at the QE2, with a couple of anti-war poems. Dain Brammage got nostalgic over "Glass Bottles."

A new performer here, Kidd Dynamite, performed a piece called "Unfamiliar Faces" with backup from his laptop. Carolee Sherwood described her poems as "newish," one titled "January Divorced from Winter,"  then a poem for the new year, a love poem "To My Dearest Friends…" Mojavi began, as many did this night, with a personal remembrance of Tom, then to an "old" environmental poem "We Murder Sunsets" & then another poem beginning with stark images of a deceased person's belongings tossed on the sidewalk, but our memories linger on.

Tom joined us via the 3 Guys from Albany tape/CD with piece he liked to do when performed in schools, the memoir "South End." Sally Rhoades who said her first reading at the QE2 was in March 1990, said she was more Walt than Emily in her poem "I Contain Multitudes." Bob Sharkey commented on Tom's column "The Simple Life" that appeared every other week in Metroland, & read his poem responding to that, "Tom's Rags." Don Levy first appeared at the QE2 in May 1988 & read his memoir of his first reading, "Loosing My Virginity." Tess Lecuyer was also an early habituĂ© of the QE2 (I have a picture from April 1988 of her reading there), tonight read a recent piece rich with images with the working title "January Snow-shoeing at Little Notch." Mary Panza who did not read tonight, but acted as a very bossy stage-manager (are you surprised?), had been at the QE2 open mic as early as July 1988, just for the record.

Cheryl A. Rice, who had put in her time in Albany & the early poetry scene (my earliest photo of her is from the QE2 in February 1993), drove up from Kingston, read a poem about her father delivering hay from Long Island, "Hay Run." Jill Crammond delved into the Lives of the Saints with a bad girl poem, "St. Monica Defends her Decision to Elope with a Bad Boy." Ed Rinaldi has been writing a poem a day, & read one of them, "Just Typing the Words America the Beautiful." Josh McIntyre's short piece "Convalescent" was about writer's block, or just waiting it out.

Kevin Peterson was too young to have been at the QE2 but has been following in that tradition; he recited a short piece on the enigma of women, then read "Youth in Excess," both worthy of the QE2 stage. Poetyc Visionz (also too young to have been to the QE2) did his piece, "I Have a Beautiful Mind", then another piece on negative thinking & the need to "Keep the Faith, Baby." RM Engelhardt who first read at the QE2 in April 1991, read "Think Beautiful: a Poem for Tom Nattell" (that Rob had read at the 1993 Readings Against the End of the World), & his tribute/memoir poem on the QE2 "In a Place of Sound & Light." Avery finished out the open mic list with his memoir of the Lark Tavern & past beret toss "As the Star Dust Twirls" & a poem from January 1999 about finding God as someone who is drunk, cold & annoyed.

I closed out the night with a reading of my poem "Chasing Tom" which has been published in the 2011-2012 issue (#39) of the Paterson Literary Review. Then Tom, from the 3 Guys tape, reading "Rhinoceros." & a big thanks to everyone who contributed to the Tom Nattell Peace Poetry Prize.

While the beret toss only happens once a year, we gather at McGeary's on the last Monday of most months for Poets Speak Loud! sponsored, coordinated & created by AlbanyPoets.com.