March 12, 2015

Calling All Poets, March 6

I was pleased & honored to be one of the featured poets at this ongoing poetry event down in Beacon. The series had previously been at the Howland Center, now has moved across Main Street to the community storefront/performance space at the Center for Creative Education. I read with Matthew J. Spireng & Judith Kerman who was “streamed.” I had previously read at the Howland Center a few years back & have been a streamed poet (which has special meaning for an old poet with a huge prostate).

Matthew Spireng read first & began with a the title poem of his book What Focus Is, then read “The Crows” dedicated to his partner. These were like the poems I remember hearing Matt do, where the poet confronts the natural world of hares & birds. The next few were different, “The Pen” was set at a car dealership, “Water Based Lubricant” at the pharmacy (with his fly open), & “What Follows” about dinner after work. He returned to his Nature poems with “Winter Morning Walk,” a bit longer than his typical poems & a take on Little Red Riding Hood. Then on to “For the Girl Waiting for the School Bus” & a poem about the computer “Take Over.” Matt then told us the sweet story of finding his extended biological family, that he is writing a non-fiction account of it, as well as poems. “Annabelle Birdcall Croft” was about learning his birth mother’s name, while “For Those Who Dwell in the Mountains” was to his new-found siblings, after being brought up an only child by his adoptive parents, & “Family History” about interviewing others about it. “The Last Poem of the Century” was not quite the last poem he read, as he finished with one about a cat he “never met,” “Truffault’s Porn.”

I read next, pleased to have such an attentive & numerous audience. I began with a couple birthday poems, “This Birthday is Not Divisible by 10” & “Birthday Poem 2015,” then invited Brian Dorn up to read the poem he had written for January’s Poets Speak Loud  “Sixty-Nine.” I returned with a political piece on the shooting of Tamir Rice “Hands Up Don’t Shoot.” Just this week I had published a small (cheap) chapbook Coyote: poems of suburban living (A.P.D.)  & read the title poem, then “Looking for Cougars” from Poeming the Prompt as a way to hype the books.  My ex-wife & mother of my oldest son, Blake, Babs Brindisi Wilcox was in the audience with her partner, Ellen Youssef, so I read for Babs a poem I’d written in 1970, “Making the Cottage Ready for You.” When I read my poem “Kadinsky’s Red Spot” & its variations I asked if anyone could read Russian (Inna Erlich had translated this poem into Russian) & Valeria Likora volunteered to give the audience a sense of what the Russian sounded like (she read later in the open mic). Then on to the more recent “The Sestina Sestina,” “McDonalds with Love,” &, for the up-coming season, I ended with “What Passover Has Taught Me.”

After the break we were treated to a live streaming of poet Judith Kerman reading her poems. As often happens with this technology, her reading unfortunately got interrupted part way through, but they were able to get her back. Her reading included some haiku early on, a poem about New York City “Pop Culture,” an interesting Dadaist exquisite corpse done with Will Nixon “Instructions for the War Room” then what she described as some old prose poems that actually sounded like parts of a novel.

After Robert Milby recapped some of the up-coming poetry events, they went on to the open mic. Jim Eve noted that this was the 16th year of the CAPs reading series & read a cluster of haiku. Christopher P. Gazeent read 2 poems from his phone, “Energy” & a love poem “Crossing Astoria Blvd.” Glenn Werner is another of the stalwarts of the mid-Hudson area poetry scene, tonight he invoked Spring with his poem “What the Cherry Tree Said,” then a poem titled “Wings.”

Raphael Kozek was a new name/face to me, read a poem titled “Wild West Dirge” & another referencing the photographer Dorothea Lange “Prophet.” Steven Coyle was another new voice to me; he read about cats in his basement, then a tribute to tonight’s sound man (who read later in the open mic) “There is a Man Here Larry Sansone.” Hayden Wayne read a long, dramatic piece from Neon (a street opera), which is described online as fiction, but you could almost hear the lines centered on the page.

Marina Mati read a city poem from 1984 “Survival” then “Teachings” about her mother, father & her brother. Maseo Whitaker read 2 playfully titled poems “Shakespeare Doing the Hump” & “The Robert Frost Kickball Club.” Mona Toscano read a bragging poem for Women’s History month titled “The Phoenix.”

Valeria Likora, who had helped me out with the Russian read an untitled piece written today, beginning “Hello Grace…” Christopher Wheeling (who is the resident photographer here) read a couple of untitled pieces from his notebook. Larry Sansone’s first poem “The Great Fly Over” sounded like a commercial for an airline, then read “Banana Split” from a series of poems he’s been writing about the city of Beacon. Robert Milby cited some dead poets & read Edmund Walker’s “Go Lovely Rose,” then his own “Slamming Doors Around Mozart.” Mike Jurkovic brought us all back home with a couple of his poems & that was it.

Calling All Poets happens on the 1st Friday of the month, now at the Center for Creative Education, 464 Main St., Beacon, NY, doors open at 7:30 PM, reading begins at 8:00, $5.00 — featured poets & an open mic, supported by Poets&Writers.

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