September 3, 2012

Yes, Reading, August 31

Yes, it was the last poetry reading in August in Albany, but also the 1st in the new season for this series, at the Social Justice Center in Albany (NY), for a packed (& sweaty) house, with the hosting duties shared by Matthew Klane & James Belflower.

The first featured poet was Colie Collen, also the most conventional poet; perhaps that's because as a farmer she constantly has her hands in the real dirt of the Earth, grounded in the ground one would say. What was significant about her work was the absence of the self-conscious "Nature" poems. I mean, there was a dead bird poem ("So Many That Could Be") but also what I would call her "farmer poems," e.g., "If My Elbows Are Muddy You Know I've Rested" & "I Was Swimming With This Raspberry In It." & there were love poems ("No Accept"), even a love poem/farm poem, "Is There a Way to Say?" One poem, "Glissande," invoked a discussion of the meaning of the word, which made me think of "glissando" (a musical term meaning a continuous slide upward or downward between two notes) but this title is apparently a skiing term meaning "sliding on your ass" -- oh well. At least her poems dealt with what an old farm boy once described to me as "clean dirt."

If this were a circus Douglas Rothschild would have been the entr'acte clown in his pale blue velvet pimp hat & faux zoot suit (badly in need of tailoring). He began by donning goggles & rubber gloves to handle "raw poetry" (i.e., poems that were un-mediated by literature professors). "The Cry of the Day Liner" introduced with much name dropping in an introductory essay as "a scientific experimental poem" was too-long & ultimately a vacuous exercise in opposites based on the poetry of Keats. He continued his name-dropping in a selection from a mss. titled "Redo," then on to his relentlessly clever 3-word haikus.

Michael Peters' experiments in poetry included recorded "environmental sounds" (from air vents, from a mountain ridge, or in a car) behind/around his poems, until he realized that with the door of the Social Justice Center opened there was real-life Central Ave. "environmental sounds" around us all night long anyways (like the ice-cream truck going by Poets in the Park). He started out by passing around some graphics & found-art plastic packing material, then read excerpts from a couple of manuscripts he has been working on. He was definitely the most performance oriented of the night's poetry (& most politically/environmentally engaged), although his reading style pretty much stuck to a breathless whisper.

The series is back for the school semester on various Fridays. You can Friend them on FaceBook to get their invites & find out what's going on. Contributions for the Social Justice Center are encouraged. The house tonight was packed but there were only a few faces I've seen at other poetry reading venues. If these "fans" of poetry lived in, say, Syracuse or Binghamton, they wouldn't find nearly as many poetry readings there as here. This is a great place to be a poet, if you get away from your comfort zone of grad-school colleagues or workshop buddies. See you out & about.

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