April 17, 2015

Poets of Earth, Water, Tree & Sky, April 10

The first of the season’s readings at Pine Hollow Arboretum, sponsored by Rootdrinker Institute & hosted by Alan Casline, tonight walking with a stick.

First a little open mic before our featured poet, Alifair Skebe. I was the first on the list & read my poem “Believe, Believe” a tribute to & incorporating Bob Kaufman’s poem of the same title. Another Bob, Bob Sharkey, read a poem “Walking With Baby” about walking with his granddaughter walking with her doll, then a journal entry about the Mayor of Cohoes. Tim Verhaegen did a slam-style piece playing on the word “alone,” then a poem about being an outsider; Tim had recently been to the Nitty Gritty Slam, competed for the 1st time & came in 2nd! The father of the Arboretum, John Abbuhl, read, as he usually does, from his little pocket notebook that he said was titled “On the Bridge of Morning Sun;” his jottings are philosophical, “What None Could Take Away,” “Connection” (all there is), “Certainly,” & “What Do We Know” (what we know is that without John’s place we wouldn’t be having these readings). Frank Robinson read a piece titled “The Image” on “pseudos” from his collection of essays & reviews Angels & Pinheads (Verity Press International, 2013).

A sure sign of Spring, when we can park on the lawn, is the start of this reading/open mic series, & a great start with the first featured poet of the season Alifair Skebe. She began with wearing a mask & a poem/song for the Pythian priestess. Her reading included many poems celebrating the season, it seems, such as “Emily’s Garden,” “A Dry April Day,” “American Pastoral” (& childbirth), “Spinning Paper” (another way of thinking about butterflies), & poems of birds, & flies & bees, even “One Southern Woman” with its rich images of Louisiana dirt & food. But there were also poems about our mortality, a conversation with a veteran, the poet as fruit fly (“Life & Death”), “This Body,” & a poem responding to Muriel Rukeyser & referencing Emily Dickinson (again) “The Dead & Dying Poem.” Alifair’s work is intelligent & artful, rich in imagery, but the kind of poems we need more time with.

Back to the open mic after a break, Thérèse Broderick began with a poem about being with Frank at Caffè Lena, then a commercial about her group that meets 1st Thursdays & you can find them, I think, on meetup.com (Albany Area Poetry Chat). Ron Pavoldi’s poem “The Big Bang Theory” was about death & war in the jungle. Susan Riback put us on the Space Station with “Have We Forgotten,” then a poem for Spring, & a third “Living Alone,” also reading from a pocket notebook.

Jill Crammond read about the “Family Dinner” then a poem in a new persona “The Widow Receives a Bouquet.” Mark W. O’Brien took on another poet’s voice to read “7 Things Every Hipster Should Know about the Poetry Show.” Joe Krausman paid tribute to poet Paul Weinman & his reading at Borders nude & his chairs made out of sticks “Just Sticks,” then read a poem about needing someone who is both a nurse & an editor, & a piece about “Going to a Doubleheader” (not baseball).

Our disabled host, Alan Casline read regally from his chair, a poem based on childhood memories of food “Conversation Just Before Midnight” & a poem about what we need to know of “Toad Lore.”

This series continues on the 2nd Friday (mostly) of the month at the Pine Hollow Arboretum Visitor Center, 16 Maple Ave., Slingerlands, NY, 6:30PM — featured reader & an open mic.


Susan Kayne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan Kayne said...

Dan, Thanks for posting a remembrance of our first gathering this year ... quite appropriate to have been on Arbor Day. It was a joy to see everyone and catch-up after the long winter. I am so delighted to learn from, and about, the treasure of Poets in our area -- Alifair was simply sublime <3.