May 27, 2015

Third Thursday Poetry Night, May 21

You can tell the really good featured poets before they even read by the size of the audience. The featured poet, Barbara Ungar, drew in lots of her students & loyal friends. After invoking the Muse, the gone Galway Kinnell, with his sexy poem “Last Gods,” we went on to the first part of the open mic.

Alan Catlin started us off with one of his “dream-dates” poems, “kind of rude” he said, about Virginia Woolf as a college classmate. Jacky Kirkpatrick read “The Summer of Nothing,” a dysfunctional family memoir. Samson Dikeman got a rousing welcome, then read “World’s Fair 1958” (in Brussels), on the stolen last work of Mozart. Billy Stanley free-styled, in his mud-rich accent, a political/cutural commentary. Don Levy’s poem, “Boring Old Gay People,” was inspired by a remark by the painter David Hockney. Sue Oringel made a rare appearance here, said she found a poem she written last year about the travels of dating, “Another Fairy Tale,” but added she is in a better place now.

Barbara Ungar has been promoting her new book, Immortal Medusa, & I was pleased to be added to her “book tour.” For her reading she mixed in poems from her new book with a quick romp through her earlier books, starting with one from her 1st book, a poem about being in graduate school & an affair with a chaos physicist, then “Feast,” from her “baby book,” with breasts like botas. From Charlotte Bronte You Ruined My Life she read a “a love-poem to my ex-husbands” “Why Don’t they Just Drop Dead.” From Immortal Medusa she began with “Dead Letters” — she’d just gotten one today —, then “Reading Rumi to Dolphins” about her students, “Whale Fall” (inspired by a trip to the dentist). “Ode to a Porcupine” quoted Li Bai & was an anti-war poem inspired by the stink of a dead porcupine, & “For the Weather” talked about the weather we used to have. She closed with the androgynous “Why I’d Rather be a Seahorse.”  During her introduction Barbara apologized for reading poems that I, or others in the audience, had heard her read recently, but one can always hear a good, entertaining poem more than once, just like when we go to a live performance of a musical group we like we want to hear our favorite tunes -- what would a Rolling Stones concert be without "Satisfaction"?

After the break I read a poem I like to do each year for the Memorial Day weekend, the war/anti-war fantasy memoir “John Lees” (on the Vietnam Memorial at 3W-83). I was followed by Lee Geiselmann who read “There Is A Moment” about being in an airplane & about love. Amber O’Sullivan continued with the Memorial Day theme, a military funeral “When It Was Done.”

Alyssa Cohorn’s poem was titled “War Song” & was about a relationship, not Memorial Day. Allison Paster-Torres read off her phone a poem about an urban conversation “Not that Kind of Girl.” John (he didn’t print his last name so I couldn't read it) (& he didn’t want me to take his picture) began with a long introduction about being inspired by the British surrealist poet John Gascoyne & eventually read a poem based on a lucid dream. Karen Fabiane read a long poem, the title piece from her little book The Dancing Bears.

Emily Willwerth’s poem was titled “Relative” ending feeling small. Jessie Serfilippi read a childhood memoir about watching the stars outside, being scared. Carol Jewell’s poem was untitled, about writing/not-writing a poem about the end of the semester. The final reader of the night, Jan Farrell’s, poem was a memory being with of her children around a campfire.

Each Third Thursday we gather at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY to read our own poems, & to listen to a featured reader, 7:30PM, for a modest donation supporting the featured poet, other poetry programming & the Social Justice Center. Join us.

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