February 26, 2015

Third Thursday Poetry Night, February 19

Tonight, the Social Justice Center had expanding walls as the poets, fans & classmates of our featured poet, Sarah Sherman, kept pouring in. The sign up sheet filled up with more new names than the usual roster of regulars, many of them from one of Prof. Daniel Nester’s classes at the College of St. Rose. But first I invoked the Muse, the recently gone Philip Levine, by reading his poem “An Abandoned Factory, Detroit.”

The first reader up, Danielle Lowe, was brave to step up to the mic for the first time, with her short poem “Definition of Love.” Avery’s poem was a response to prompts & he others were using, these apparently from photos. Stephen is a regular at the Nitty Gritty Slam, but this was his first time here, & he read a valentine, “Sweetheart.” Jimmy, also from the Slam but new here, reprised his gross piece of rhyme from the other night “Poke Your Nose.”

Jimmy returned as support with the next reader Lori Snay who read her list poem “I Believe.” Tom Mooney continued the stream of new readers with “Dreaming Haiku.” Jacky, certainly not a new reader, read a piece about her mother’s suicide attempt years ago. Another veteran reader, Joe Krausman, read “Timepiece” based on an ad from the New York Times. Jessica Rae has become regular here too, & tonight read from her journal a vignette titled either “The Cabbie” or “Impermanence.”

Tonight’s featured poet, Sarah Sherman, has of late been helping to promote other’s work through her work at the Pine Hills Review & by running open mics at a couple of local bars. She began with a letter to the writer Rebecca Solnit titled “Becoming,” about becoming a writer, about her father, & about being in love, done as part of her work in the MFA writing program at the College of St. Rose. Then on to some "body poetry," a poem from a class last year, “Octography” filled with violent images, then “Below 95” about hypo-thermia & lost love. She ended with another essay, “Their Words Not Mine,” weaving in the words of other authors with her own, a poem of yearning & love.

After a short break, on to the ever-growing list of open mic poets. I led it off with this year’s “Birthday Poem 2015.” Then on to the roster of mostly young, new voices, with Juliana Wuerdeman reading her rhymes, “Morning Off.” Eva Cunningham also read a morning poem, “New Day,” about the varied activity in the world at 5AM. Abrie Moise read “13 Ways of Looking at a Heart.” Rachel Demarais’ list poem was titled “I Remember.” Daniel Summerhill read “False” a poetic self-portrait, of sorts. Returning to the love-poem theme, Sierra Rose read a list of what she “will always remember.” The 4th “Daniel” of the night (if you’ve been keeping count), Danielle Stankus read a series of playful rhymes, “Our Trip that Went Viral.” Ercan Kilic’s poem, “A New Beginning,” was also short & full of rhymes. Karen Fabiane read “Two Parts of the Wayward Poem” from her Bright Hill Press book Dancing Bears. Samson Dikeman was back with a poem about fishing on a lake in southeastern Vermont “Float Bridge.”

Courtney Bernardo also had a poem of memory “When I Was 10.” Olivia Spicer’s poem was titled “I Am Grey” filled with lush imagery. Adam Tedesco’s poem “Zabriskie Point” was short & grim. Steven Minchin mixed it up with a performance piece about hugs, “Ready, Embrace,” & Avery took him up on it at the end. At this point we had run out of room on the sign-up sheet & the remaining poets had signed up along the margin, starting with Lorraine Grund, who finally made it here to the Social Justice Center, & who read “Piece by Piece” about confronting the demons of grief.

Angelina Grund (also her first time here) did a clever pastiche of the “Declaration of Independence,” re-arranging the text to add new, ironic meaning that the well-known document. Brian Dorn repeated a poem “Whatever Will Be” that he has done before, then the current revision, “snow is on its way.” Jan Farrell read a poem she had found in an antique scrapbook. Colin kept it short & sweet with “Your Very Own Room in the New House” another memory poem to end the night.

It was one of the most crowded nights ever at the Social Justice Center, a great, diverse list of readers & many here to just listen — thank you everyone who came & supported Sarah Sherman, this program & the Social Justice Center. We are here at 33 Central Ave. every third Thursday, 7:30PM with a featured poet & an open mic, $3.00 suggested donation — more if you got it, pay what you can if you don’t.

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