April 21, 2015

Albany WordFest - Metroland’s Best Poets, April 15

Each year Albany WordFest acknowledges the winners of the Metroland’s Readers Poll Best Local Poets with a reading featuring the lucky/hard-working word-smiths. This year the winners were, in 1st place, Brian Dorn, 2nd place, Mary Panza, & a tie for 3rd place between Elizabeth Gordon & Jay Renzi. The reading was held at The Women’s Building, 373 Central Ave., with R.M. Engelhardt, who is frequently (i.e., almost always) on the Best Local Poets list, as the host.

Elizabeth Gordon started off with a cluster of Haiku, then read the post-seasonal “Taking Down the Xmas Tree.” Her last poem is one of my personal favorites, about being new on the job (& a woman holding her own) “Carpenter’s Helper.”

Jay Renzi popped up out-of-the-blue last year on the Metroland list, but has now been coming around to some of the open mics. He began with a poem he does with dancers “Blessing the Virgin Oil,” then on to a newer poem “An End to Discord” (or, the door to Fraggle Rock). He then read a selection of mostly short, rhyming poems from his latest chapbook Remembering the Smoke -- you know, poets hang out at bars, drink, smoke & pick up strange women.

Mary Panza, who has been in the poetry scene here long before she was legal, read her classic “This is Not an Angry Poem,” then a poem that I must’ve heard before but was surprised when she quoted Charles Olson (!) “Understanding Christopher” (who was not in the audience), then her wonderfully vicious take-down of Shel Silverstein “Fuck the Giving Tree.”

Brian Dorn has for the last few years been going to more poetry readings than I get to. He read a small bouquet of his usual rhyming poems, then launched into the epic “40 Venues” which is a tour of all the places where readings are held that he has been to -- formidable.

There seemed to be some discussion as to whether there was an open mic, or not — it hadn’t been announced as such -- but some of the community folks in the room seemed to think so.

When the floor was opened up to other poets only Amani, who is part of the Nitty Gritty Slam team, stepped up to do a far-ranging piece from her phone, on Mother Nature Turn Down for What, but then that might not be the title.

But yet another WordFest event in the books & (lots) more to come, we’re just getting tuned up.

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