August 16, 2014

"Sunday Funday" — The Pine Hills Review Reading, August 10

This was the 3rd in a series of readings for The Pine Hills Review, the literary magazine of The College of St. Rose’s MFA in Creative Writing Program. Although scheduled to be held at The Low Beat on Central Ave., the place was locked when we arrived, but next door at Pauly’s Hotel where the bartender was hoping for some quiet time with the usual Sunday afternoon drunks, the college students convinced him they would even tip for water & he let them read.

Program advisor Prof. Daniel Nester introduced the host, Slam-champ poet Samson Dikeman, who introduced the readers. The “theme” for the readings was lies, which became fraught with irony as the largest single genre among the 9 readers was personal essay memoir. Which I guess just goes to prove what I have always said, “All writing is auto-biographical, except if your spouse is in the audience — then it is Art.”

First up was another Albany Slam champion, Kevin Peterson, with what he described as “a non-fiction piece” about learning to play poker as a kid & being an ass-hole.

Next up was the director of the Social Justice Center, poetry-performance artist Victorio Reyes with a couple of “Rants” from his series of rants, the first a litany of heroes that he said was “not a poem but a rant” the another about what he’s “for” & “against.”

Jessica Serfilippi, who has been know to make an appearance at Albany’s Slam, read a poem “Lies I’ve Been Told,” perhaps more true than its title would lead you to believe.

Conor White brought us back to prose memoir (or “bullshit” as he said) with a childhood memory of being convinced his mother was Black (it was sort of an Irish joke), & a piece about the Boar’s Head Meat supplier in the supermarket where he worked.

Kate Cohen’s essay about kids learning to lie was “for parents” & about the useful skill of lying to power.

Shawn Berman performed a piece of stand-up comedy titled “10 Pick-Up Lines that Have Gotten me a Restraining Order...” written for the new St. Rose MFA program in Stand-Up Comedy.

Mimi Lipson read an excerpt of the short story “Lou Schultz” about a dysfunctional family traveling in Florida from her short story collection The Cloud of Unknowing (YETI books, Portland, OR, 2014).

Hallie Goodman read yet another memoir, “The Lying Game,” about the bar scene in LA.

Alyssa Colton read a monologue in the persona of Queen Ann of England, then a personal essay she described as a “poem” (hey, I can’t tell where the line breaks are), “Swinging is a Gateway Drug” where “swinging” means on a swing as a child, but somehow Dr. Phil got in there too.

An official launch reception & reading for The Pine Hills Review is scheduled for September 5 at The College of St. Rose. Check the St. Rose/Pine Hills Review website for complete information. & send them some stuff, they accept submissions year round. Good luck.

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