November 30, 2014
& we really had to this night in the back room of McGeary’s as the bar was filled with football fans for the snow-delayed Bills v. Jets game. Of course, Mary Panza has no problem with being loud, she was our host.
Sylvia Barnard was the first poet up with the new poem “North Dakota” about her father that she had tried out at the Third Thursday open mic, then a poem from her book Trees “To My Father on his 110th Birthday.” Joe Krausman read about a “Scene in a Subway Car” where a couple texts while making out, then a lesson on where babies come from “Gratitude.” I followed with 2 new poems, “Garrison Keilor” & the Halloween inspired “The Move.”
Lexee had been waiting patiently for the poets to gather & the open mic to begin, did a piece from memory “Like Tinted Diamonds” accompanied by cheers from the bar & encouragement from the audience. Tess Lecuyer has been spending too much time outside in the North Country, saw “Bears” in her kitchen, & a poem from February “Ice Bloom.”
The featured poet/poets was/were "the Pilot Light Collective," 4 poets from Western Massachusetts. First to the mic was Eliza Ryan, who had read here a few months ago in the open mic. Her first poem was about fighting dragons in divorce court, “The Unburnt,” then a poem addressed to “Instagram.”
Stan Spencer ranged from an intro about a tattered cape, to a funny, rhymed piece on farts, another on gender transition, & an angry piece about a triple murder in Pittsfield.
Melissa Quirk Cairns had also been here for the open mic (with Eliza). She began with “Finding Forgiveness at a Funeral Mass, an Open Letter to a Priest,” then a rhymed piece on science & what it means to be human “Even Seuss Was a Doctor.” Her last poem was “new shit” on belief & magic, taking off from a childhood Xmas memory.
Gabriel Squailia read a cluster of poems from a mss. titled 31 Sonnets For January, “Roller Skates,” the funny rant “Best Buy,” “Newborn,” “Snow” (a prophecy?), “Lists” & “The Moment I Decided to Marry My Wife.”
Back to the open mic, Pat Irish read a sonnet “written years ago” about a sunrise over Columbia County. Sally Rhoades proclaimed “I Want to be Swathed in Beauty” & also read an anti-war poem “Between Hope & Despair.” Adam Tedesco’s poem “Parallel Construction” began with an epigraph from Leonard Cohen, was like a letter, while “The Artist as a Paranormal Romantic Comedy” was based on a twisted childhood dream of women on a conveyor belt. Shannon Shoemaker read a poem about looking for happy endings “Phone Booth,” then another, untitled leaving love poem. Kevin Peterson’s “Vice” was a drive-by made up of 2 very short vignettes. & appropriately enough Julie Lomoe ended the night with “11 Ways of Looking at November.”
We took the cheers from the bar as a credit to the fine poetry we heard tonight, which also inspired the Bills to victory. Join us at McGeary’s on Clinton Square in Albany every last Monday of the month, about 7:30 — bring poems for the open mic, have dinner, a drink or 2 & speak loud!
The Hudson Valley Writers Guild has sponsored the The Community of Writers program at the Schenectady County Public Library for about 12 years. The event presents local writers in various genres reading their work & (hopefully) selling their books. This year’s reading included writers of young adult fiction, adult fiction & poetry. The MC was me, Dan Wilcox, President of the Hudson Valley Writers Guild.
Rose Kent first talked about her experience in bringing her books into schools & the kinds of questions the young students asked. She read a section from her most recent novel Rock Road (Knopf Publishers), the narrator a young girl with her brother & mother moving from Texas to Schenectady. She is also the author of an earlier novel Kimchi & Calamari (Harper Collins).
Thérèse Broderick is well-known in the poetry community as a reader, teacher, & former Poet Laureate of Smith’s Tavern. Today she read poems linked by memory & family, -- poems about her childhood, her husband (“Blue Pinto”), baby-sitting & as a recent tourist in the Holy Land. She also read from & offered for sale her poetry “favors,” each a poem written on coffee filters & bound into a fan-shaped chapbook.
Bunkong Tuon has recently been reading his poems at area open mics. He teaches in the English Department at Union College. His poems were about growing up as a refugee from Cambodia, about being educated in the US, & about his family, & confronting racism. A full-length collection of his poems, Gruel, is forthcoming from NYQ Books.
James Pavoldi had the best book display: a full-size suit of armor holding copies of his self-published novel No Fat Knights. It is the story of the adventures of a woman who travels from Brooklyn to England to attend a seminar by on weight loss run by a knighted physician. More information about the book can be found on his website.
Steve Swartz is the first Poet Laureate of Schenectady County & a former host of the Community of Writers reading. He read a selection of his poems, which were often humorous, full of wordplay & rhyme. He began & ended his reading, appropriately enough, with the word “Schenectady.”
This is an annual event at the Schenectady County Public Library, so watch for it again next year at this time. But both the Library & the Hudson Valley Writers Guild has programming throughout the year. Check their websites for more information.
November 24, 2014
This series, curated by poets James Belflower & Matthew Klane, is held at the Albany Center Gallery, 39 Columbia St., Albany, NY & they characteristically mix the reading of poetry with other art forms. Tonight’s readers Michael Ruby & Marthe Reed was joined by dancer (& poet) Sally Rhoades. In addition the gallery was filled with the sculpture of Mary Pat Wagner adding a further aesthetic dimension to the evening’s performance.
James Belflower introduced Michael Ruby first & he read from his American Songbook (Ugly Duckling Press, 2013). Although he has nicely melodic reading voice, he barely moved except to turn the pages & look up. The poems used the words & phrases from pop songs that he then fills in with his words. It worked best with songs that I knew, like the Door’s “People Are Strange,” & where I was not familiar with the song’s lyrics it was hard, on only 1 hearing, to know where the poems were going. Some of the other songs he used were “Cigarettes & Coffee,” “You Know I Know,” & “Little Girl Blues,” among others.
Yes! Reading Series can be found on FaceBook, as can the Albany Center Gallery — a community-based and community supported non-profit art space dedicated to exhibiting skillful contemporary art of the Mohawk Hudson region.
November 23, 2014
Tonight I invoked the Muse by reading 2 poems by Jim Spurr from his chapbook Open Mike Thursday Night (Village Books Press, 2010), “Patriotism” & “Lady Across the Way,” one of the great Oklahoma poets who left us for that open mic in the Sky in September.
Here the first open mic poet was Alan Catlin, who said he thinks he met Jim Spurr on line, began with a bartender poem about New Year’s Eve, “The Conga Line from Hell.” Joe Krausman read a piece titled “King of the Free Lance Writers” about the prolific American author Richard Gehman (1921 - 1972). Sylvia Barnard read a short, new poem about her father’s trip as a young man with a herd of cattle on a train to “North Dakota.” Frank Robinson’s poem “The Second of May” is from his charming chapbook Love Poems (Verity Press International, 2014) & was a funny piece in rhyme about the day he met his wife. & that wife was the next poet up, Thérèse Broderick, with a poem about a “butterfly zoo,” “Within the Mariposario,” weaving in English & Spanish phrases.
The next poet will be the featured poet here next month, Adam Tedesco, who gave us a preview with a poem of colors & San Francisco “Yellow.” Jessica Rae read a bus poem, a little love poem to Albany, “Central Ave.” Chad Lowther read from his Airbook a poem constructed from phrases heard in a lecture on Moby Dick from a University course on Herman Melville, “Staring at Rolling Seas.” I was the last poet in the open mic with “The Night Sky,” a poem recently published in the online journal Pine Hills Review.
Art Project: Earth.” Also from the book “Lost Mountain” & “Rumors of Her Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated” (“dancing around” her military experience), then on to another poem (not in the book) from a series based on Army training manuals, “Army SMART Book: M-18A1 Claymore Mine” (on the limits of the imagination). Other new poems were “Double Arm Transplant,” & the new, never read out “On Veterans Day My Daughter Wishes Me Happy Veterinarian’s Day.” She ended with 2 poems from the book, “Chiromancy” & “Frost in the Low Areas” (because she likes to end with weather poems). A relaxed, playful reading full of description, laughter, often with family members as bit players, taking an idea & playing it out in a conversational tone.
Every third Thursday we gather at the Social Justice Center for a featured poet & an open mic for community poets, 7:30PM, $3.00 donation, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY. Join us.
November 13, 2014
Back in the downstairs “living room” of the Pride Center with our host Don Levy.
Love Cohoes (Crandall, Dostie & Douglass Books, 2014) “If Gay Marriage Had Been Legal For Me I’d Be Divorced Twice, at Least, & I’d Have A House,” then a revised, Slam version “I Do” written in response to workshop comments; we agreed that what she has is 2 poems on the same theme. Then she read a section from her earlier non-fiction memoir Walk With Us: Triplet Boys, Their Teen Parents, & Two White Women Who Tagged Along (Crandall, Dostie & Douglass Books, 2007) about being in family court. She ended with a poem spun out of this book, a commentary about being in a cross-cultural community. As always with Elizag it was a good, entertaining, engaged reading.
I was the 1st poet in the open mic, read my ever-expanding “The Communion of Saints” & a peace poem from Poeming the Prompt “Fast & Slow.” Leslie Gerber has a brand-new chapbook of poems out from Post Traumatic Press of Woodstock, NY Lies of the Poets, so new he hasn’t had the book release party yet. He read the chilling “Hot Line” then the often funny title poem “Lies of the Poets.” Bob Sharkey read an old poem “Anticipation” based on a dream about a poetry reading/party at the former Lemily Gallery on Washington Ave., then a poem from a longer piece about an encounter with a ghost of an ancestor “Cathy Gives Me a Good Scolding.”
Sally Rhoades read a “very new” piece, “On a Night with a Poet,” in which the poet in the title is herself, a long weaving of words like a stream. Jaida Samudra was here with her father, Leslie Gerber, & began with a poem from memory to Lucky, a trans-sexual friend, then on to “A Letter from Singapore” full of word play in multiple languages. Don Levy ended the night, as he does here, with a couple poems, the first titled simply “G.B.” about a boy he had a crush on in 9th grade, then another high school memoir “Climbing the Rope.”
Live from the Living Room happens each 2nd Wednesday of the month with a featured poet followed by an open mic at the Pride Center of the Capital Region, 332 Hudson Ave., Albany, NY 7:30 PM $3.00 donation.
November 12, 2014
Paul Pines has been filling up my bookshelves. At last count I have copies of 10 of his books, which doesn’t count my old copy of the original paperback of the novel The Tin Angel that I gave away. His most recent collection is Fishing On the Pole Star (Dos Madres Press, 2014). I even have a copy of his 1972 Onion (with drawings by Basil King) (Mulch Press). In addition to his poetry & being a practicing psychotherapist he runs the annual Lake George Jazz Weekend. Today the Friends of the Albany Public Library honored him for his literary work & contributions to the larger arts community with a lunch at the University Club, then Paul gave a lecture at the Albany Public Library Main Branch.
The Friends of the Albany Public Library also sponsors weekly book-reviews at the Main Branch, 161 Washington Ave., Albany, NY 12:15PM, free — & free refreshments.
November 10, 2014
The last of the season here at the Pine Hollow Arboretum, until the thaw in April, with featured poets Joe Krausman & Me (DWx). Alan Casline was the host.
Brian Dorn was the first of the open mic poets, beginning with “Changing Ways” (of seasons, of life), then a poem he said he has not read out before “Under & Over.” Alan Catlin’s poems were from a series of animal poems, “Armadillos at the Ball Park,” “Guide Dogs with Lead Harness Consider Trench Warfare,” “Elephants at Low Tide” which is the title poem of a new collection. Paul Amidon began with “School Concert” & “Report Card” (his grandfather’s) & one in a “Diner.” Mike Connors read Archibald MacLeish’s poem “Ars Poetica” then a funny “Cranberry Day,” & a poem written yesterday about a maple tree “Forlorn Women of Autumn.” The genius behind the Pine Hallow Arboretum, the planter of trees, John Abbuhl always reads in the open mic & tonight read 2 short poems, “Clearing” & “The Fog Will Clear” then a short, concise essay written recently “The Unity of Reality.”
|Photo by Don Levy|
This was the final reading in the series until the Spring. But the Arboretum is still there throughout the Winter (trees don’t migrate very quickly, you know). Watch for more readings here sometime in April, 2015.
November 9, 2014
When I arrived in the rain there seemed to be some confusion about where the reading by Marc Spitz would be. The publicity was clear: the St. Joseph Hall Auditorium, but for some reason we were led to the Standish Room (where other Frequency North readings had been held). In fact, next to the sign for the Standish Room there was a poster announcing Marc Spitz’s reading in St. Joseph Hall Auditorium. Then we were lead back to the St. Joseph Hall Auditorium where other listeners were already chatting, waiting, & the book table was set up. Go figure.
|Daniel Nester (right) introduces Marc Spitz|
Marc Spitz, writing about rock’n’roll & pop culture, is the author of a couple novels, rock star biographies & a memoir Poseur: A Memoir of Downtown New York City in the 90’s (Da Capo Press, 2013). His most recent book is Twee: A History (It Books, 2014). He read from the introduction as an explanation of what “twee” is, a dizzying list of movie & book titles & other recent pop culture references, then on to a description of the scene in Brooklyn, stating “everyone is young & most of the young are twee.” At the end I was beginning to draw the conclusion that “twee” was simply an extension of “twit.”
He also read a couple of brief sections from Poseur. The sections he read actually dated from the late 1980s, about getting a room at the legendary Chelsea Hotel & an encounter with Allen Ginsberg at the Poetry Project’s New Years Day Marathon reading. Those sections as memoir & story-telling were much more satisfying than the pop-culture anthropology.
Frequency North is a series of readings at the College of St. Rose by young writers. Check out their schedule here.
November 8, 2014
I hadn’t been here since the September reading, but wanted very much to hear new work from one of my favorite of the local poets, Mary Kathryn Jablonski. Carol Graser started us off with reading a poem by Naomi Shihab Nye, & announced that this series is now being supported by Northshire Books in Saratoga Springs, then on to the open mic.
Alan Catlin was first up with a “bus stop poem” titled “Home Schooled,” then a poem about a fight in a bar “Last Man Standing.” Tim Sneider read a poem inspired by his car’s odometer “242,242,” then a poem about his motorcycle “Winter Sleeping.” Dave Jakes came over from Great Barrington & read 2 short pieces, “The President of Spring” & “Wave Rider,” then imagined snowflakes with bar codes in “Chicago Snow.” Todd Fabozzi’s poem “The Couple” described a bitter scene in a coffee shop, while “Hey So-Called Conservative” was a preachy political rant. Rodney Parrott read a poem from a set of pieces on flying.
After a short break for book sales & bathroom, our host Carol Graser returned with one of her own poems on ice & snow. Anthony Bernini read a couple of nature-inspired poems “The Scent of the Earth” & “Wind Above the Tree Line.” Both of “Storm Cat”’s poems were inspired by solitude, the first, “a blues art-rock fusion” he sang & read, then the short “Circular Reasoning” on solitude v. companionship.
Carl writes funny rhyming poems & read one on a New Year’s resolution to ogle minds rather than behinds, then a somewhat related piece on Viagra “On Golden Years.” Susan Riback said she had been reading Pablo Neruda’s A Book of Questions & read to us a sample of these gnomic couplets, then her own versions, then a poem about “The Alphabet Psychic.” Jesse Muse, who the night before had been at The Low Beat in Albany, free-styled a couple of Slam pieces both relating to being at work & not titling his poems. Lynn (also from Great Barrington), the night’s final poet, hadn’t intended to read when she first got here, but was inspired by what she heard, & read “November Bath Night” & “Communion” based on the question, “what kind of wine is she?”
There is always a great variety of poets here which makes the trip worth it, to Caffè Lena in Saratoga Springs on the 1st Wednesday of each month, $5, 7:30PM.
November 6, 2014
I’ve missed a few of these gatherings, but found my way back to The Low Beat in time to hang out & catch the open mic, with Kevin Peterson as host.
Josh started off with “Disassembly” which sounded like a youthful memoir about breathing fumes. I followed, & since it was Election Day in the USA performed “Put Down the Government Rag.” Jessie read a poem in which he talked about “folding 1000 paper cranes for serenity.” L-Majesty's poem “With Dignity & Justice For All” was for Brittany Maynard.
el presidente, Thom Francis took over hosting the Slam & I almost choked when he announced it would be a 12-4-2 Slam. The sacrificial poet, Brandon (from the Buffalo Slam team), set a high standard scoring 27.3. But with that many slamming in the 1st round there had to be variety & few pushed the 3 minute limit, including P.V. coming in at a shockingly short 1.2 minutes stringing positive phrases together free-form. Stephen rhymed, Mojavi read from his phone, L-Majesty sounded like he’d been to P.V.’s Church of the Positively Positive, Amani showed that Slam clichés get you 10’s (she got 3, but of course only 2 counted *); others included Anna, Josh Kent (talking to God from his phone), Jesse, Elizag, K.P., Jimmy (fighting a Civil War video game), & Shannon believing in happy endings.
The Slams continue every 1st & 3rd Tuesday at the Low Beat on Central Ave., Albany, NY — with an open mic for the rest of us.
* (In the Slam there are 5 judges; each performance is judged on a scale of 0 to 10, with the high & low scores dropped so only the middle scores are counted, so 1 10 is as good as a 0, you need at least 2 10’s for it to matter.)
November 2, 2014
I was having dinner at the bar, eyeing the pretty staff at McGeary’s when the poets started coming in, heading to the backroom, so I followed them. Mary Panza was the host for yet another Poets Speak Loud!, tonight featuring poet Mike Jurkovic from down the Hudson.
|Photo by Don Levy|
Shannon Shoemaker read a new poem she hadn’t read out before with the tentative title “Phone Booth” & then was about to sit down, but Mary Panza called her back & she attempted to perform “Tongue in Cheek” but had to abandon it — great opening likes just the same. Thérèse Broderick was really tempting fate (& me) with, first, a poem about the death of her cat, then a lyric about a dead puppy — again, no comment. Frank Robinson followed with a trio of poems from his chapbook Love Poems (Verity Press International, 2014), “No Jive” (Thérèse at 50), then a poem for Mother’s Day, & a poem, “Genesis,” about how they met.
Pat Irish got us back into the open mic with a poem by someone else titled “The Foxholes of Hollywood,” then read his own poem about creatures from the movies “A Halloween Party.” Don Levy imagined the (for him) unimaginable, “Life Without FaceBook,” then a fantasy of picking up a Bible student, “Gaytheist.” Cheryl A. Rice began with a poem about “Dioramas” then on to a stirring poem about hearing about the death of “Paul Newman at the Dodge.” Adam Tedesco managed to mention Hoffman’s Playland in a poem about death & defiance “I’m Only Going to Show You This Once,” then another grim piece, with a playful title, “Games.”
Poets Speak Loud! is in McGeary’s backroom each last Monday of the month, in Albany, NY 7:30PM (or thereabouts) — come early & enjoy the food & excellent service from the lovely wait-staff. See AlbanyPoets.com for details.