June 5, 2014

Harmony Cafe Open Mic, June 2

I drove down to Woodstock to catch this weekly open mic hosted by Michael Platsky & to hear the featured poet, my friend Anthony Bernini. I arrived just as Jay Wenk was finishing his reading & didn’t get to hear his poems.

As I got a drink at the bar, Donald Lev read some dream poems (e.g., “Aesthetics”), & some some bird poems, such as “Birds & Crows;” the tradition here is for Donald to read right before the featured poet.

Anthony Bernini, who has been a part of the Albany poetry scene since the early days of the QE2 open mic, gave one of his representative readings, with new poems & older poems from his books. He even threw in a poems by e.e. cummings & Mary Oliver. In the broadest sense he writes “Nature poems,” but more precisely he fits into the more contemporary category of "eco-poems," such as the recent poems “The Intrusion,” “Fukashima Prefecture,” & “Collision on North Lake Ave.” (deer in the suburbs hit by a car).  A “very recent” poem “Sundown” was about friends dying, while “Remember the Alamo” (from his 2011 book Immediate Worlds) was an anti-war statement. Other poems from that book included “The Warmth” & “Twister.” Poems from his earlier collection Distant Kinships (A.P.D., 2002) included “Stone Church” & “The Providence Atheneum.” A reading worth the trip.

The open mic continued with Victoria Sullivan who read the salacious poem “Who Goes There?” (about “the tool box not the tool”), then “The Mystery” (of being born) & went over time with “The Weird Light of November.” Teresa Costa read a sexy piece from Allen Ginsberg’s journals. Ron Whiteurs continued the Allen Ginsberg reference with his outrageous jerk-off poem “Nutting Party,” then a sing-a-long “Home of the Strange” (“where the queers in the cantelopes play”). Michael Pecot continued the song parodies with one based on “Penny Lane” about surveillence but went too long & was cut off by our host (to his great credit Michael Platsky uses a kitchen timer with a clearly audible alarm sound to keep track of the open mic poets’ readings). Chris Wood began well enough reciting an eco-piece “Paper or Plastic” & a piece on Christian churches “To the Fear Mongers;” he should have stopped there, but went on to read an extensive section from the Book of Ezekiel.

Things kept going down from there with the oh-so Woodstock boutique shamanism of Richard Treitner’s tedious, breathless, over-blown rhymes. Iris Litt was a breeze of fresh poetry air with a poem about Hurricane Sandy “The River Remembers” (in the voice of the River), the funny consumerism of “Gypsy Gap” & another funny piece about a cemetery. David Stein read a long, rambling narrative “Here’s What I Did Yesterday” (dedicated to fathers who only see their kids once a week).  David Hecht read his song lyrics “Brooklyn Cowboy,” “No Pink Cadillac,” & “I Bought My Baby the Brooklyn Bridge.” Gary Siegel read about the aftermath of the long Winter “Equilibrium” then a piece on clowns “Kind of Grey.”

It was inspiring to see Michael Heinrich take the stage & battle a tremor & fatigue (he had to sit for his 2nd poem) to read a real poem “Remember to Remember,” then a piece about a silver chain, for a cross or a Star of David? Leif brought us back to Woodstock self-indulgent tedium with an aptly titled “Welcome to My 20-Year-Late One Person Show,” & another in the same vein as if he were writing a Broadway show. Our host Michael Platsky returned to the Ginsberg theme with a childhood memoir of pissing with Allen on the streets of NYC — now that’s more like it.

& Michael Platsky does the near impossible with organizing a reading & an open mic every Monday here at the Harmony Cafe in Wok'n'Roll in the still-beating heart of Woodstock, NY, for a donation.

No comments: