May 1, 2014

Poets Speak Loud!, April 28

A gathering of the locals to hear the featured poet, all the way from the other end of Route 20 at the ocean in Oregon, Carla Perry, with Mary Panza our host keeping us in line, & sweet Melissa making sure we got our food, our beer, the attention we crave.

Strangely, I was up first for the open mic & read a poem that Carla had published in her journal of poetry & art, Talus & Scree back in 1998 “Park Fantasy,” then 2 recent additions to my on-going love poem “Counting Moons.” Alan Casline started with an eco-poem about seedlings, then on to a piece dedicated to Dennis Sullivan, the title beginning “Lap Water off the Roof …” Mark W. O’Brien managed to squeeze in 3 poems, 2 on Winter “Shoveling” (about his daughter), & “Priming the Pump” then a Springtime poem about a childhood burying of a pet.

Michael Czarnecki was also visiting the Albany scene, from Western New York, read a poem about being with Alan Casline “Standing on the Route 155 Bridge Over the Normanskill,” then a cluster of haikus, & “Finishing Another Season of Sugaring.” Sylvia Barnard read a couple poems based on stories a friend from Denmark has been telling her about her childhood, the first “Cycling Through Denmark” & a poem about the woman’s father reading to her & her siblings as World War II loomed on the near horizon.

When Carla Perry published my poem in Talus & Scree in 1998 I didn’t know her, it was just a fine journal to send poems to. Later, in 2000, she hosted the 3 Guys from Albany at "Writers on the Edge," a literary series she ran in Newport Beach, Oregon where I met her in person. Now, she is on a 30-day Amtrak tour across country, making stops to visit friends & relatives & to do poetry readings to promote her new book of poems, Wanderlust (FootHills Publishing). Her reading was a selection of poems from the book, beginning with “Oregon Rain,” then on to “Coal Dust” & “You Already Know This.” In many ways the poems are a memoir of her journey through life & to Oregon, including “The Man,” “Why I Became a Regular at the Sandbar Tavern” (a rockin’ good band, among other things), & “I Used to Ride Clyde.” She can also be reflective, as in “I am Contemplating a Shift to a More Devil-May-Care Persona,” “Blueberries Growing Through Snow,” & “The Libra in us All.” I’m glad she made it all the way to this coast, & have added her book to the honor list of poets who have stayed at the Poetry Motel Hotel Convention Center Writing Retreat & Spa.

Don Levy, Kristen Day
The open mic continued with an all-star sampling of Albany poets, including Shannon Shoemaker who read for us her 1st Haiku, & a love poem “Listening to Frogs.” Don Levy followed with 2 poems that can be read on his FaceBook page, “Everyone Was FaceBook Fighting” & a sweet poem “Beginnings.” Emily Gonzalez’s 1st poem was a portrait of someone now grown up “Belle Canto,” followed by “Breaking English,” a skillful mix of Spanish & English, for her mother. Sally Rhoades’s poem “A Silence” mixed water & memories, then a meditation on finding her inner-Mohawk while listening to a Chief at “The Last Day of Scissortail” (the creative writing festival held each year in Ada, Oklahoma). Julie Lomoe ended the evening with a poem just written yesterday about reading poetry (at Caffè Lena?) “Blinded by the Spotlights.”

I was thrilled to be able to introduce this bunch of local poets to the wandering Carla Perry, & her to them, at this monthly open mic (last Monday of the month), at McGeary’s on Clinton Square. Check out for a calendar & more information about this regular event.

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