May 10, 2015

Caffè Lena Poetry Open Mic, May 6

Surprised when I got here to find a much larger host for this open mic, not the usual host Carol Graser on steroids, but the equally genial Alan Casline as guest host tonight. He began with a poem by Stephen Lewandowski, “Not Alone,” they way Carol always invokes the Muse with a poem by some other.

On to the open mic, with Rodney Parrott with “a poem about possibility,” a prosey story of a friend whose briefcase gets stolen, & returned, in Barcelona. Todd Fabozzi followed with a couple of “eco-poems” the first called “Progress” about the decline in bird populations & of poisons in the environment, & another “Swirling” on the legendary mass of plastic floating in the ocean.

Next was a group of young dance students & their teacher with 3 pieces, apparently written by Sarah, one of the students, who read "Layers" while the teacher read the others; the teacher explained that they were interpreting poems through movement & sound, which in itself sounds like a definition of poetry. Dave Defreese read the philosophical “Waiting” then a narrative piece, “The Vicar’s Wife,” based on a novel. Albany’s Don Levy read “Hibernation” about what he didn’t do this Winter, then the hysterical narrative of high school (hetero-)sex education “50 Shades of Vomit.” Kim Henry carried on the great tradition of State worker poets writing poems at work with a touching untitled piece written today, at work of course, a memoir of her mother & her green thumb. Margot Messing read a poem about St. Paddy’s day in Saratoga, “March Again.”

Susan Kress said her poem was a “kind of a fairy tale” & clearly based on Cinderella, from a different point of view, “When the Other Shoe Dropped.” Kat, who has made a couple of appearances at the Third Thursday reading at the Social Justice Center in Albany, read a piece on writing & healing “Gathering Seed.”

The featured poets tonight were the husband & wife poetry couple, Thérèse Broderick & Frank Robinson. Frank began with a poem from his chapbook of poems written for Thérèse, Love Poems, “Thérèse 5.1,” then his historical/sociological commentary “When I Was a Kid America Was Like Africa.”  Thérèse’s began with her prize-winning 3-part poem “Metal Arts I, II, III” — check it out here in The Heartland Review — based on text in a catalog of course offerings.  Frank was back with poems in “another poetic style,” “Going Home,” & a take on Emma Lazarus’s sonnet commenting, on the new fees for immigrants “The New New Colossus.” Thérèse followed with “Great Aunt Marie” & talked about studying the work of the poet Frannie Lindsay, then passes around copies of a poem printed both on conventional paper as well as on a cornhusk (like a poetic tamale?), & ended with “Steps for Gently Removing a Sock from Your Mother’s Aging Foot” from her 2013 Benevolent Bird chapbook Dislodged: Poems for My Mother’s Weeks of Subluxation.  Frank ended the session with the satiric “Mr. I Predict.” Thérèse & Frank often show up together at poetry open mics & it was quite appropriate, & entertaining, for them to share the stage as featured poets.

There was a short break during which, a la Woodstock, half the audience cleared out, snubbing the remaining open mic poets — but we were there for each other. Barbara Garro was very “throaty” with a cold, read the rhyming “Baby Spring” & the expansive “Ah, Love.” Tim Sneider choked up reading the title poem of his Changing Roads: Motorcycle Poetry and More (AuthorHouse, 2014).

Marcella Hammer did 2 poems on death, a series of “extended haiku” titled “Nelson Mandela” & “Reading List.” Bob Sharkey read his poem “The Letter O” that had been printed as a broadside by Benevolent Bird press & included in his 2012 chapbook Surface at Sunrise. James Schlett has a new non-fiction book coming out soon from Cornell University Press,  tonight he read a cluster of Haiku. Jessica Rae read her powerful eco-poem “The Rape of Our Mother” about fracking, then observations & descriptions on “Tulip Fest.” I read just one poem, from 2010, about May 1970 “44,000.” Jackie Craven had been patient to be the last reader of the night, with 2 poems about mirrors & the people we see in them.

This open mic is on the 1st Wednesday of the month at historic Caffè Lena on Phila St. in Saratoga Springs, 7:30PM, $5.00 -- a featured poet & an open mic for the rest of us.

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