October 31, 2013

Yes!, a Reading, October 25

Finally was able to get down to the Albany Center Galleries again on a Friday night to catch this series, hosted by Matthew Klane & James Belflower. After spilling my glass of wine all over my patient companion, I was able to settle down in the packed house to listen to the 4 featured poets. Matthew Klane introduced the first 2 readers, with his signature fractured/cut-up intros.

DJ Dolack was up first, & opened up with an a cappella song, then into poems from his new book, Whittling a New Face in the Dark beginning with a love poem "This is What They Want Me to Tell You." Then on to a series "New York City Postcards." Another poem played off the native language (Yaghan?) of Tierra del Fuego, & a long definition, but was about people getting together. New poems were about his New York City apartment & his wife, &, my favorite of the bunch, "Snow Showing the Air," a tender letter to his brother. He ended with another poem from the book, the list "Where Our Data Lives."

Jennifer Karmin has read in Albany in the past, back in 2008 in the old "Jawbone" series, & I had crossed paths with her at the Split This Rock Festival back in 2012. She began by immediately rearranging the performance space, then engaging Phillip Good into a group reading of a piece on particle physics she had written with Phillip & with Bernadette Mayer. One issue I have with so-called experimental poetic works is when they are performed without an explanation of the context or method of composition to help me get into the work on 1st hearing. Have no fear, Jennifer was good about that, explaining her 4000 words/4000 dead project on the Iraq War, reading from the end of the piece, mixing in recipes. She ended with the dread audience-participation piece, handing out cards with single words for audience members to say when & how they pleased, while she read from her long piece "aaaaaaAlice" (not sure I got enough a's in there).

After the break James Belflower took over the introductions for the final 2 readers for the night.

Paige Ackerson-Keily got votes from me & my companion for the most compelling outfit, her work was also socially engaged. She began with "This Landscape of Request" a multi-part collaboration with a visual artist, from her book My Love Is a Dead Arctic Explorer (Ahsahta Press).  Her images were drawn from life & messages, strung together like automatic writing, edited to context. Another poem, "Lake Effect," was a narrative of pick-up in a bar of a man in a wheelchair. "The Pine Tree" used images of diseased pine trees being cut down to show her desire to leave Vermont, where she has been living.

Kate Greenstreet read from her "experimental memoir," Young Tambling (Ahsahta Press), jumping back & forth through the text. At one point she paused long enough to take a couple photos of the audience. The text seemed to involve a young soldier & a shooting (or was it thunder). A strange & compelling work.

This series, timed with the University semesters, offers a variety of experimental visiting writers, in the often as experimental Albany Center Galleries, 39 Columbia St., Albany, NY. For, as they say, "up to the minute event details" check out their FaceBook page.

October 27, 2013

O.P.P., October 20

This is a new series at the Social Justice Center in Albany, NY featuring a poet (or prose writer) reading the work of their favorite writer(s), i.e., Other People's Poetry (or prose). I had missed the first one last month so was pleased I was able to get here tonight for this fine evening of poetry. The series is coordinated & hosted by Victorio Reyes, Director of the SJC. The reader tonight was student of Russian literature, poet, & winner of the Joseph Brodsky Poetry Translation Prize, Betty Rothstein.

Victorio began with an excerpt from Sonia Sanchez's poem "Just Don't Give up on Love." He then introduced the audience to the work of Nuyorican poet Willie Perdomo by reading "Notes for a Slow Jam" & "Reflections on the Metro North Part 2."

Betty Rothstein prepared a nicely varied selection from 20th Century & 21st Century Russian poets. She began with a poem by modernist icon Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893 - 1930), "My Soviet Passport." She followed with "Steps on a Horse" by Alexander Vvedensky (1904 - 1941) (Russian punk rockers & dissidents Pussy Riot have claimed to be his disciples & heirs). Her final selections were from a young Russian poet & LGTB activist, Elena Limova, reading 2 poems in Russian then her translations. I do not know Russian (or most languages spoken in the World today), but I do enjoy hearing the music of poetry in the words, whether I understand their meaning or not. Then we were treated to a couple of Rothstein's own intense, very personal poems, "Confession" & "Out of Habit."

This was followed by an "open mic" in which members of the audience read or recited poems by others, some from smart-phones, some from books provided by Victorio (such as Dan Nester reading Etheridge Knight), I recited William Blake (& flubbed a line, which was noted by Joe Krausman). The audience was a diverse group from the community, many related to the featured reader, including local poets, activists, novelists, & scholars. Check local poetry calendars, such as found at AlbanyPoets.com for future readings.

October 24, 2013

Third Thursday Poetry Night, October 17

For a night with filled with other poetry events in the area -- Mary Panza opening for another poet at Proctor's in Schenectady, Dan Nester's Frequency North series at St. Rose up the street -- we had a good crowd of poets to hear Andy Clausen, who had come all the way up from Woodstock for poetry on Central Ave. in Albany. In honor of Andy's presence I read one of Allen Ginsberg's masterpieces, "Sunflower Sutra," as our muse for the evening.

Alan Catlin was back in his #1 spot on the sign-up sheet with "War Reporters," an intense existential commentary, intensely read. Joe Krausman mixed up "poetic license" with a radio operator's license in an old poem "Amateur Radio Operator."

Pamela Twining came up from Woodstock in Andy Clausen's entourage & read a riveting economic working-class rant "Hit & Run." Brian Dorn made the right choice by being here instead at one of the other poetry venues tonight & read his poem on environmental disaster, "The Ends of the Earth." Don Levy's poem, "The Brooklyn Book Festival," was a meandering narrative about being there with his mother & listening to Sharon Olds read a poem about a blow-job, while he tries to pick up the cute guy next to him.

Andy Clausen always gives a good reading, even when he is "just" one of the open mic poets so I knew it would be a good idea for him to be the featured poet here. If you don't know his work, his latest book Home of the Blues: More Selected Poems (Museum of American Poetics Publications, Boulder, CO, 2013) is a good place to start. He began with "a little story" of his life moving to the East coast, & leaving his latest poems home tonight, then a silk-smooth segue into "Enough About Me" being old, being himself. On into the poem "Seeking A Fool Proof Riff…" about all -- life, poets -- that has inspired him "to sign the open poetry list." "Idiot" another self-portrait mixed with metaphysical commentary, this with irony as well. "Ramona," a poem he said he hasn't read in a while, is a narrative of the birth of his daughter at home, back in Oregon in 1970. I had first encountered Andy's work in a CD-magazine from the 1990's, We Magazine, blown away by the performance of "Gokyo Lake Breaking Up In The Sun" so I asked Andy to indulge me & read it tonight, ending his set with this musical, ecstatic rant -- ah!

After a break we were back to finish off the open mic, & I read a new poem, inspired by emails with Charlie Rossiter, "12-Round Magazine." Mike Conner read another of his seasonal poems, "Autumnal Port."

Woodstock poet & publisher of poets in his press, Shivastan Publishing, Shiv Mirabito, came up with Andy, & read a poem about his Academy Award expectations for his new one-act play about Pier Paolo Pasolini & others in India in the 1960s meeting up with Allen Ginsberg. Elizabeth Gordon read an intense Columbus Day rant, wondering how to be "patriotic & honest." Our evening's last poet was Third Thursday regular Sylvia Barnard who read her poem inspired by a visit to the ancient Roman site at Bath, England.

We are here each third Thursday of the month for a featured poet & an open mic & your donations pay the poet & support the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY, 7:30PM.

October 21, 2013

Nitty Gritty Slam #56, October 15

I decided to venture out to the Slam & take my chances on stage, particularly since this the "Inappropriate Slam" & everyone knows I have plenty of inappropriate poems (though probably not as many as Prof. Nester). But first there was an open mic, hosted by el presidente Thom Francis, always the best part of Slam night.

Chad Lowther began with a description of a neighborhood scene, "Hooker in the Midst," then a long piece of childhood memory, "Baseball Fans." Samson Dikeman was inappropriate with "Unplanned Parenthood" then a series of sex Limericks. Avery, who had been busy taking our money as the doorman, read off his device for the 1st time at a reading, about getting the key to his new home today.

Victoria Edwards also read from her device, "Yesterday I Saw Love." Jaquille Dourngny actually read his poem, "Should It Be," from paper -- imagine that. Kerry DeBruce read an up-beat piece in rhyme. Mary Panza's read one of her hilarious Blog entries, "How I Ruined Porn Night." Bless' performance of "The Perfect Life" was a commentary on "shit happens." & ever the motivational preacher, Poetyc Visionz did his well-know piece on dreams playing on the words "impossible" & "haters."

Sarah McCormick
There were 5 of us (3 of whom we had already heard from in the open mic) for the first Slam round, otherwise known as "the dan-wilcox-elimination-round," with scores ranging from Samson's 30 (!) down to my 21 ("Homage to Lesbians"). Sarah McCormick distinguished herself with real poems in both the rounds she made it through, a bit too personal & not outlandish enough for the night's theme, but interesting work just the same. Samson made it into the final 3 with a funny penis poem & more sex, which may have made the audience toss up way too-many 10s, creating a tie between Samson & Bless for an final additional round. Good work, but 10s? Oh well, that's Slam, in Albany at least.

Poetyc Visionz, Samson, Bless & Thom Francis

It keeps going here at Valentines on New Scotland Ave. (for the time being) on the 1st & 3rd Tuesday of the month, sponsored by AlbanyPoets.com -- discount admission with student I.D. (real or fake).

2nd Sunday at 2, October 13

A beautiful Fall day in the Northeast & "Chowder Fest" in Troy, NY & we still had a bunch of poets show up at the Arts Center. Sometimes you can do it all. & we were glad to have Nancy Klepsch back with us to co-host (particularly me, who is the other co-host).

Our first reader was one of the "legendary" poets from the early days of the Albany poetry scene & the Readings Against the End of the World, Druis Beasley, who performed a chant-like narrative/homage to the Harvest Queen, accompanied by the rhythmic vocalizations of Isaiah. Nancy Klepsch followed with a very new piece written just this morning, a portrait of a writer & wannabe cowgirl, then an older poem, "Another Troy, the Re-Mix." David Wolcott treated us to something totally different from his usual memoir segments, a recitation of the opening stanzas from Lord Byron's "The Prisoner of Chillon." Mike Connor read three seasonal pieces, the "Polaroid snapshot" "Days End," "November Already," & "Lakeside Reflections" with its crayon box of colors for which this season is noted. Inna Erlikh is our translator-in-residence, but a reluctant reader, so she asked me to read her translation from the Russian of the love poem "Dry Cleaning" by Sara Stolyarova, which I did.

A new voice today was Peggy LeGee with the rebellious "Little Girl Lost" in short line rhymes, & the memory poem "Revise the Echoes." I followed with "October Land," a baseball pastiche of T.S. Eliot's "The Waste Land," then a new poem written to my friend Charlie Rossiter, "14-Round Magazine." Howard Kogan read his poem "My Mother's Salami Sandwich," then the meditation in a cemetery, "A Close Family." Ron Drummond's gift to us today was reading 5 poems by other poets, 4 of whom were in the audience: Howard's "On Doing Poetry Readings," Nancy's " Mrs. to Be," his own "4 Lines & No River," Jil Hanifan's "Dream Forgets Her Old Adventures," & my own "At the End" -- Thank you Ron! William Robert Foltin managed to sneak in before the end with a couple of seasonal poems, the 1st on Halloween, followed by "Sunday Night Football."

We do this each month at the Arts Center of the Capital Region in Troy, NY on the 2nd Sunday, at 2PM; it's free & you can read poetry or prose. Join us.

October 14, 2013

Caffè Lena Open Mic, October 2

The first Wednesday & I was back in Saratoga Springs, lots of parking spots & plenty of poetry tonight. Our 10-year host, Carol Graser, read a poem by Marie Howe to get us started then on to the open mic.

Rodney Parrott read a more playful philosophical poem that he has here in the past, about giving a foot rub & playing "this little piggy…" I followed with 2 poems for the (baseball) season, "OctoberLand" (a pastiche of T.S. Eliot's "The Waste Land") & "Baseball in Palestine." Andrew Sullivan's first poem was on the nature of humor, then a tale about "After the Irish Music Festival." Barbara Garro read from an old poetry book "July Poet" then a long series of unrelated tidbits strung together, "Quatrains." Alan Casline's poem was as the title says, "Painting Signs for the Arboretum" (where he coordinates a monthly poetry series).

 The first of the night's features was Kristen Day, the one poet/photographer who could challenge me for the title of having "the world's largest collection of photos of unknown poets." She began with a list poem, "Everyday," a funny piece about the phrases one says without thinking, then a memory of being "13, Old Enough to Stay Home with Little Brother." A series of poems explored perceptions of reality &/or what' "normal", from "Blizzard" & "To John Nash" (cf. the movie A Beautiful Mind), to "Push Pins," "3 Squirrels," "Birthmark," "Amy" (Winehouse), and "Flawed Fantasy." "Why" considered a list of most-used words, while 2 poems about her grandmother's memory loss, "Wednesday Visit on Saturday, or Sunday," & "4 Fucking Dollars" described some of the same territory in a different way. She ended, as she started, with a list poem, this about different types of poems, "Pick a Poem." It was good to hear once again a nice big chunk of Kristen's playful, thoughtful poetry.

Andy Fogle is a local poet whom I haven't heard, one with a series of chapbooks under his belt, including a recent one from Finishing Line Press, The Neighborhood We Left. He treated us to a variety of poems from various publications, including "Ripple Effect" & "The Moon, Where the Rabbit Pounds the Elixir of Immortality" (based on Chinese & Japanese folklore) from Dragon Emerging from Waves (Pudding House, 2007). Some of his poems were formed from series of short, connected pieces, such as "After Cutting Grass" & what he described as "a loving sequence." He also read a poem by his friend Mark Craver, & a poem by Heather McHugh which segued into one of his own, & a poem, "Sky Library," based on one by Thomas Lux. With such an interesting poet in the area, I hope we can hear more from him at other venues.

Our host Carol Graser read her poem "The Ironing Board," published recently in Up the River, a new journal from Albany Poets, Inc. Don Levy wasn't able to make it here last month for the 10th anniversary/tribute to Carol, so he read the poem he would've read last month, "Ten Years, a Poem for Carol," then his new pasta-hilarious screed, "Cork Screw You Barilla." Tim Snider, the resident "biker-poet," walked to the stage reciting the Halloween poem, "Little Beggars," then read his ballad-sequel, "Sully's East Revisited."

Jesse Mews recited "Let Me Write You a Poem," on living in the moment & finding peace, then an intensely performed piece on washing hands. Effie Redman has read here before & was back to read a poem by Seamus Heaney. Anthony Bernini played with the idea of leaving & staying in his poem "Day Trip,"then read an apocalyptic fantasy, "Big Box Prodigies."  A new poet here, Eric Russell, ended the night with an urban haiku, & a seasonal rhyme on Thanksgiving.

But you don't have to wait until Thanksgiving for the next Caffè Lena open mic, since it is held on the 1st Wednesday of each month, 7:30PM, here on Phila St. in Saratoga Springs, NY. Do join us.

October 11, 2013

Poets Speak Loud!, September 30

In addition to the poetry one of the (many) things I like about this series is where it is held, at McGeary's: its food, drinks & -- wouldn't you know -- the wait staff, tonight the hard-working & dazzling Melissa. & then there is our host Mary Panza, another good reason to come back each month.

Kevin Peterson started off the open mic with a collaborative piece, "Words with Friends," then a piece commenting on non-fiction literature "Experimental Electronic Music & Tater Tots." Sally Rhoades' poem about New York City said "I Love to Dawdle…" then a poem for her father. Sylvia Barnard read from the new anthology A Slant of Light: Contemporary Women Writers of the Hudson Valley, edited by Laurence Carr & Jan Zlotnick Schmidt (Codhill Press, 2013), her own poem, "Helen," then a poem by Suzanne Cleary -- this collection contains a diverse sampling from some of the best poets in the region. I followed with a poem about a reading in Cape Cod "Imaging the Mews" & repeated my poem honoring Carol Graser. Don Levy wrote "Corkscrew You Barilla" this afternoon, with its poignant phrase "carbs full of hate," -- go Don! Tess Lecuyer was oh so seasonal, reading her 1989 poem "Apples" & "Autumn Equinox 2010."

Jackie Kirkpatrick recently was a feature at the Third Thursday Poetry Night back in August, but I can listen to her anytime, anywhere, one of the younger generation following in the tradition of the Beats -- personal, literary, urban. Her poems are frequently short so she said she prefers we didn't clap after each poem, but sometimes clapping is just a natural response (like a hard-on in a strip club). She began with a piece referencing Sappho, Kerouac & Whitman, then on to a sex poem, "Spooning with Oprah." There were poems about color-coding books, recovering from love, about an ice-bar in New York City, as well as poems on her father, her mother, rock music, short pieces like notebook/Beat diary entries, that sometimes got her emotional.  Bob Dylan once said, "I wouldn't know the difference between a real blond & a fake." This one's for real, blond or not.

Bob Sharkey started the 2nd half of the open mic with "The Passing," & a love poem on marriage over the years, "The Lost Language." It's great when there is a (poetry) virgin at an open mic, tonight there were 2, one after the other.

The first was Adam Tedesco with "The Freedom Diaries," then an urban, memory piece, "How My Mother Signs a Painting." Virgin 2 was Maxwell Ross with "Vapor & Dust," an over-heated love poem -- good debuts by both. Julie Lomoe read a seasonal poem about the September rain, written this afternoon. Brian Dorn read his rhyme "Hard as Stone," followed by a poem on being a poet, "What's the Use?" Avery performed 2 similar pieces in his evolving role/style as what can best be described as "New Age Preacher," all nostalgic over love-beads & patchouli. Carlos Garcia's first poem was another type of preacher-act, this full of personal advice & aphorisms, while his other poem, using images of tap, tapping, was about his experience in the military.

The last Monday of most months will find me here, & you too, I hope, in the back room of McGeary's on Clinton Square in Albany, NY, for Poets Speak Loud! -- open mic with a featured poet, starts about 7:30/8:00.

October 10, 2013

Third Thursday Poetry Night, September 19

So once again the legendary Tour Bus had to circle the block, but the lucky poets who arrived earlier got parking spaces so we began the night with an excerpt from the recently late Seamus Heaney's translation/version of the early (i.e., late medieval) poem Sweeney Astray. Then on into our open mic. 

First up was Andrew Sullivan, who has read recently at Caffè Lena in the open mic in Saratoga Springs, now for his first time here, where he admitted to an inordinately number of tennis poems & so read "Sharapova in Straight Sets." Carole Rossi is also a regular in Saratoga Springs who made a rare appearance in Albany, reading a tribute to we (us?) poets, about our reading, & our festering doubts in our work. Alan Casline read a short, "symbolic" poem from 2011, "The Old Cellar Blues," about obeedúid's (our featured poet) house. Joe Krausman read a 40-year old poem he found in his archives, "Apples," sounding like the poems he wrote yesterday, which I guess is the definition of "age-less." Pearse Murray alluded to a poem I had read here about baseball in Palestine before reading his poem, "Serpent Fence," also about the line between Palestine & Isreal. I concluded the open mic with my tribute to Caffè Lena host Carol Graser, a pastich based on one of her poems, "The Wild Twitter of Their Stencils."

obeedúid (aka Mark O'Brien) has been fucking with the heads of future graduate students in English with his manuscript Telluric Voices, just now published by Foot Hills Publishing -- back a year ago when he was a featured reader at Caffè Lena, & the mss. was still pending -- accepted but not yet published --  Benevolent Bird press put out a limited edition of 20 copies, including a DVD & a fold-out broadside (I have a copy if you book collectors out there want to make a deal) -- someday some scholar will have to deal with this. Tonight, obeedúid had copies of the new Foot Hills edition. However, most of what he read were poems not in the book, beginning with "Judas Goat," on the multiple others with his common Irish name (Mark O'Brien). He included some poems paying homage to the influence of Seamus Heaney on his own work, remembering his father giving him a copy of Heaney's poems. He did include a couple poems from Telluric Voices, tentatively pronouncing the Mahican titles, the ancient Indian language the impetus for the cycle of poems. Others he read included a poem for the late poet Catherine Connolly, a poem about his poems as children, & ended with "De-Fib," a romantic lyric for a broken heart.

Bring a poem for the open mic each third Thursday, 7:30PM, at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY & enjoy a reading by a local or regional poet for a tiny ($3.00) donation (cheaper than the Slams).

October 8, 2013

We All, September 18

Brian Dorn has been promoting this event at a series of open mics recently, reciting the title poem, even juggling colorful balls as he says the poem. Tonight I got the see the full production at The Arts Center on Broadway in Saratoga Springs, NY.

Brian has become a fixture at most open mics with his characteristically rhymed pieces; his themes include political & love poems, philosophical musings, even poems on religious & spiritual topics, that he recites in his own unique style. The hour & a half production of We All used live dancers, acrobats, & balancers performing to recordings of Brian reading his poems. The text was projected on a screen behind the performers, & sometimes included a video of prior performances. Some of dancers used lighted hula-hoops in lieu of real fire.

The performers, variously associated with Firekeeper Productions, the dance troupe Fire Magick & the band The Love Sprockets, included Jozette Gordon, Jahnavi Newsom, Megan Gendell, Seth Hill, Radha Newson, Izabella Dean, & Addison Rice. The performances were riveting, often spell-binding, while not distracting from the text. It was like a night at a poetry circus, without the elephants & tigers.

Brian's poems works well in open mics & featured readings, but in a long show such as this his readings were numbing. His poems are mostly in a regular rhyming pattern, which he delivers in a lightly modulated monotone. This works well in short doses, in fact it could be called his "signature style".  But in this setting the incessant repetition of style & tone & rhyme became a distraction from the more scintillating performers on stage. His material speaks to real issues & deserve to be heard, but in such a long production needs greater variety in performance, not just distracting visuals.

There certainly is something to be said for a Ringler Brothers production-style poetry reading, especially where the wild animals & the clowns are the poets themselves.

October 3, 2013

Nitty Gritty Slam #54, September 17

I decided to check in on the Slam again, even signed up to compete. The new rules allow poets to read at the open mic & also do the Slam, but for myself I prefer one or the other. As most often happens, most of the real poems were read in the open mic, which was MC'd by Mojavi.

Chad Lowther reading, with Thom Francis

Avery started off with some white-boy hip-hop, preaching on complacency. Chad Lowther followed with a poem from his laptop "Morning Dream Child," then a narrative piece, "Juda." Brett Peterson played poetry roulette with a serial poem in many numbered parts, asking the audience to call out numbers that he read the corresponding poem. Brian Dorn promoted his up-coming poetry/theater piece, "We All," with the a performance of the title poem.  The first of the night's (poetry) virgins, Nayram Gase, read "Seasonal Girl" from her phone.

Shauntay read a piece playing on clichés of the lightness/blackness of her skin. Poetyc Visionz read from his favorite hits, his "what's up is down" poem. Mojavi surprised us with a short piece, on a smile. Kevin Peterson also had a short piece, this a portrait of "the dart guy" in a bar. The night's other virgin was "Diva" whose poem declared "I Love Big Dudes" (thick with responsibilities). Bless ended the open mic with his gritty poem on jazz, booze & cigars.

Sarah McCormick

il papa Thom Francis stepped up as the night's Slam-Bastard, reading us the riot act, otherwise known as "the official spiel" (i.e., da rules). It was a traditional 8-4-2 Slam, with Avery as the poetry sacrificial lamb, followed by a mix of experienced Slam poets & others, including me. Actually, I didn't do too bad, coming in my usual 5th place. The others included Slam pros K.P., ILLiptical, Bless, Mojavi & P.V., with Brett Peterson attempting something way too short for a Slam (good for him), & Sarah McCormick with a real poem, "I Never Rest" -- & she actually made it into the second round.

P.V., Mojavi, Bless, & Thom Francis

But with a tie there was an extra round between Bless, Mojavi & P.V., with a further tie for the final round of P.V. & Mojavi, such is the nature of arithmetic in bars. But it is too early in the (Slam) season for any of that to matter. Hell, I may just be back with my best poems --

to Valentines, on the 1st & 3rd Tuesday -- Albany's Official Slam.

October 1, 2013

Poets of Earth, Water, Tree & Sky, September 13

& tonight Poets of Puppets as well, at the Pine Hollow Arboretum, as puppets was the theme announced by our poetry host, Alan Casline, in honor of the featured performer, A.C. ("Breaking My Art") Everson.

My poems were connected to "puppets" loosely, "The Kingfisher" (a satirical commentary on Charles Olson's poem), & my contribution to a continuing series, "The Anals of Perious Frink." Tim Verhaegen ramped it up a couple notches with the outrageous "Just Another 3-Way OK, OK A Really Good 3-Way," then a meditation about why he is the way he is, in the 2nd person. Don Levy's poems were a product of his recent trip to Italy, "Assisi" & "Last Night in Priano."

I've seen many performances over the years by A.C. Everson of her poems, accented/accompanied by a piñata -- cupid, the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, even my head. But tonight's performance, titled "In the Garden of Ma," was an complete work integrating poetry, piñatas, even music with Joan Reilly on cello. The piece took us through the life & death of Annine's Mom, using the 4 Seasons as a frame, starting in the Fall. The piñatas were 4 large, brightly colored flowers, one for each season, with favors inside replicating the piñatas in miniature, & candy, of course. The poem itself reminded me of nothing less than Allen Ginsberg's elegy for his mother, "Kaddish."

I should mention that in between poets MC, Alan Casline read snippets of his research on the history of puppets in various civilizations over millennia.

We took a short break, gathering up our piñatas goodies, then John Abbuhl, our host at Pine Hollow, read 3 short poems from his pocket notebook, working back in Time from the most recent, "If There is Time," "Mother's Love" on Nature, & "From Them." Frank Robinson has that wry twinkle of a satirist, read "Migration," a funny piece on aging, & a selection on the economy of "road rage" from his collection of essays, Angels & Pinheads. obeeduid read just 1 poem tonight, pondering life & words in a garden. Bob Sharkey read a poem referencing a poem by Seamus Heaney, "Shuttle" about a ride to the airport, then a short prose piece, "Cello," with one of his recurring characters, Slocum Meany.

Therese Broderick's piece, "That Tuesday," was a 9/11 poem written a while ago, but revised over the years. Brian Dorn was in the spirit of the night's performance, juggling while reciting his poem "We All."

Deb Cavanaugh, the acclaimed local folksinger made a rare appearance as a poet with a poem written this afternoon, on the theme of puppets, "cutting strings" of her daughter at school. Alan Casline finished off the night with a long introduction to a short poem, "A Tour of Jonathan Switft's 'The Puppet Show.'"

We all went home with goodies from the piñatas & poetic goodies we had shared with each other, as often happens here at Pine Hollow Arboretum.