January 2, 2014

Sunday Four Poetry, December 29

It seems like a long time since I'd been to an open mic, & what with travel & family & the Xmas I guess it was -- & I would've missed this too if it had been held on the 4th Sunday, as it usually is. Seems like the poetry gods are smiling. It was a cheery gathering of the usual gang for the open mic & the featured poet, Karen Schoemer.

Edie Abrams served as host for the open mic, & I was the first on the list. I had been saddened this morning to read the obituary of local poet Nate Leslie; Nate taught at Siena College & has a flock of books out, & I had featured him at the Third Thursday series back in 2011. He left us much too soon. I read his poem "Beside the Point" from his collection of sonnets on the theme of Mothers, The Last Best Motif (Bright Hill Press, 2005), then read my own poem, with bubbles, "Dancing the Mandala." Tim Verhaegen followed me with a couple of pieces he read recently at the Social Justice Center, "Old People" & "Her Great Big Window" (his alter ego, he announced). Dennis [O']Sullivan read a couple of poems dedicated to others, "The Nature of Art" for Benjamin Reeves (pondering the subjunctive), & a poem for his sister Rita, "A Leaf Fallen from the Tree of Life."

 Dan Lawlor's first poem was a rhymed piece about watching old movies, "The Couch Potato's Prayer," then on a more philosophical note, "Silver Lightening." Edie Abrams began with a poem composed of a series of questions that took us through her family history, then to a recent poem written for her colleagues (& herself), "Retirement." Tom Corrado read a couple of additions (numbers 21 & 22) to his ongoing series, "Screen Dumps." Alan Casline had 3 poems for us, the first based on a New York Times photo of the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, the 2nd, "Nothing Remains of Yesterday," a re-write of a poem by Irish poet Brendan McCormick, then the chill-poem "Icicle Frost." Sue Oringel's poems reflected the season & her love of gardening, "Winter Birds," "Gardener's Reprieve" (about what's left undone), & "Gooseberry Fool" about a dessert made from the fruit of her lone gooseberry bush. Joe Krausman began with an epic shuffling of pages trying to find his poems, the first titled "Table Manners" imaging a lion while fine-dining, then "On Bashfulness." Howard Kogan warned us that his poem, "In the Beginning," was long -- a self-conscious meditation on words & writing that brought in a lion (again), skaters, & Mother Theresa.

Linda Sonia Miller made her first appearance here to read, along with her husband & their grandchildren to listen; "Lessons from a Green Tennis Ball" was really about lessons from her dog, while "Girl Playing Basketball, or Preparing for Revolution" was a look back to her youth, & she finished by embarrassing her grandchildren by reading a short poem about them sleeping as infants (from her book Something Worth Diving For, Finishing Line Press, 2112).

The featured poet, Karen Schoemer, from Kinderhook, won an honorable mention in the Hudson Valley Writers Guild 2012 poetry contest, & began her reading with that poem, "Julia in Her Room," imagining a character from a Jean Rhys novel. Her next poem, "Mevillian," was also inspired by a book, specifically Chapter 111 of Moby Dick. Karen has spent some time as a music critic & her descriptive poem "Hotel Minor" used the language of music, while her poem "Getaway," which had a definite film noir tone to it, was written to go with musical accompaniment. "At the Crest" was about being at the beach in New Jersey, & "Studio City" sounded like a letter written to a friend. "Birds of a Precipice" was based on a stay in the Adirondacks, while "Couplets" was based in the Catskills. & just like a jazz set where the musicians "bring it on home" her last poem was titled "Home." Interestingly enough, she had no chapbooks for sale, but did have a small, vinyl EP with 4 of her poems performed by Oli Heffeman with musical accompaniment, Detective Instinct (Third Uncle Records, Richmond, IN) that I bought.

Then of course as is our custom we moved on to continue our discussions over food & drink at Smith's Tavern.

Sunday Four Poetry is an open mic with a featured poet on the 4th Sunday of most months, at 3PM at the Old Songs Community Center, 37 South Main St., Voorheesville, NY.

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