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.

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