May 3, 2012

My NaPoWriMo: Update (3)

April is the cruelest month, filling up my calendar with more poetry than I can possibly get to. But now that WordFest is done, & it is now May, I can look back to my assignment for "Poetry Month" to spend some time each day with the works of a different poet. With all the busy-ness of the month sometimes that meant just having a muse or poetic patron saint of the day.

Catherine Connolly (photo by Tom Corrado)
On April 15 the recently gone Catherine Connolly looked over my poetic shoulder as I read thru the just-published Orion's Belt: Poems (Poets' Corner Press).

I've been reading Paul Blackburn off & on almost my entire poetic life. Even his journal entries are like poems, snapshots, not quite like Frank O'Hara's first I do this then I do that. Reading him on April 16 I realize that my own city poems are closer to Blackburn's than O'Hara's.

At Split This Rock I bought Sarah Browning's book of poems Whiskey in the Garden of Eden & I used April 17 to finish reading it. I have heard Sarah read in the past but it is nice to be able to spend more time with her carefully drawn personal poems & with her confrontation with racism & other social issues. Keep at it, Sarah!

"Claire Wilks" signed my copy of Drunken Oasis (Rattapallax Press, 2011) in DC but the introduction, written by poet Susan Brennan (who in her youth read at the QE2 open mic), says she "was brutally murdered on April 16, 1974." I've enjoyed these poems paralleling my own East Village experience, but for the real thing check out Verse: a Murder Mystery at

I've been dipping in & out of Aimee Nezhukumatathill's (say that 3 time fast) book of poems, Lucky Fish, for months, so I used April 19 to get a few more pages along. A younger poet worth checking out.

I was preparing for the Page to Stage workshop I'd been doing with Mojavi & Kevin Peterson at Stage 1 by reading through Anne Waldman's poem "Fast Speaking Woman" so I made her my Poet-of-the-Day for April 20. All our students have been girls so I felt we needed a strong woman poet for them. 

April 21 was the Albany WordFest poetry marathon at the Albany Public Library, & Karaoke + Poetry = Fun at Valentines, so if that's not enough poetry in 1 day to satisfy the Poet-a-Day I don't know what is.

Although April 22 was the day of the Smith's Tavern Poet Laureate Contest up in Voorheesville  it was also the day of a screening of Voices in Wartime at the Opalka Gallery in Albany. The event also included poems read by Ed Tick & others. Plenty of poets & poetry this day.

Every figure needs a blemish, & here it is -- April 23. After 8 days of poetry events, some more than 1 a day, this is the Sabbath. Or, as Groucho Marx once said in a completely different context, "I like my cigar too, but sometimes I take it out of my mouth."

Jan Tramontano's new chapbook from Finishing Line Press, Paternal Noctures, arrived recently. Moreso, I've been listening to her read a poem here, a poem there from her collection during WordFest (& before), so of course she should be my poet for April 24.

I enjoy reading Buddhist texts, such as the Lotus Sutra & the Heart Sutra -- it is poetry, filled with numbers & illusions, so April 25 was devoted to the text & various commentaries on the Heart Sutra. OM

On April 26 I had a much delayed lunch date with the exquisite Mary Kathryn Jablonski. I published her chapbook To the Husband I Have Not Yet Met (A.P.D.) in 2008. How could I not promote her fine work as one of my Poets-of-the-day?

I was surprised & thrilled on April 27 to receive the latest copy of American Poetry Review with the work of Kenneth Patchen as a special supplement. He is one of the poets who has inspired my work, both poetical & political since high school -- RIP my fellow rebel poet Debbie Slocum from Journalism class (we should have grown old together).

The Okie poet & scholar Jeanetta Calhoun Mish was passing through Albany (aren't we all?) for a reading in Oneonta, so I organized a casual "salon" at the Poetry Motel & a stunning array of poets showed up. So I dedicate April 28 to Jeanetta & her book Work is Love Made Visible -- a fabulous title that works on many levels.

I needed space in this month to 2 of my "Shamans" (as Tom Nattell would have it), so settled in on April 29 with William Blake, the visionary poet/artist whose work is much more than "The Lamb" or "The Tiger". I can't pass a sunflower without bursting into song.

And for the last day of this most busy & poetry-filled month I embraced another of my Shamans, the birthday-boy of May (May 31), old greybeard his-self, Walt Whitman. Please join us in Washington Park (Albany, NY) at the Robert Burns statue at 6PM on May 31 for a reading of "Song of Myself" -- bring chairs, blankets & sign up to help read this quintessential American poem

This poem drooping shy and unseen that I always carry, and that all men carry …  
(Walt Whitman, "Spontaneous Me")

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