July 21, 2015

Third Thursday Poetry Night, July 16

Although it was a Summer night it was not too hot to close the door to keep the sounds of the night-time Avenue out on the street. Before we began the open mic I invoked the Muse, the recently gone  Paul Weinman, iconic, quintessential poet of Albany, one of the most widely published poets in America in the 1980s & ‘90s, often writing as "White Boy". I played a selection from the CD Volume: a compilation of poets (Grrr Records, 1995) in which he read “My Eyeballs" & "Flies on the Ceiling” recorded at Margarita’s on Lark St. 9/13/94 & “White Boy Strips Naked” recorded on 3/14/95. That Open Mic in the Sky is getting pretty crowded & just got a lot more rowdy.

On to the open mic, with one of Paul’s compatriots in the early ‘zine scene, Alan Catlin, who paid tribute to Paul by reading a poem that was a description of a street person “Home Schooled” from his latest chapbook, Beautiful Mutants (NightBallet Press). Joe Krausman had signed up 2nd, but had to leave before he could read; he left me his poem about Paul, “Just Sticks,” a tribute to Paul’s later avocation of making chairs from tree branches, some small enough for a potted plant or a child’s stuffed animal, he dubbed “orphan chairs,” leaving them anonymously around town.

Sean Heather McGraw was here for the 1st time, read a poem, “Keeping a Secret” accompanied by playing a penny whistle. Jessica Rae said her poem was "something silly" she just wrote, in the style of Dr. Seuss, “Not Your Thing.”

Melody Davis, tonight’s featured poet, read from Holding the Curve (Broadstone Books, 2013), which she said was kind of a journey, but tonight read it from the back, starting with the childhood memory “Sermons.” Then a couple of poems I hadn’t heard her read before, “My Constellation of Bad but Thrilling Choices” & the Greek myth-inspired “Danaë.” Said she likes to write villanelles & read the driving poem “It Only Starts.” The title poem “Holding the Curve” in the past & present also included images from driving, & then “The Kids from Next Door” & “Ode to Sunset Park” from her time in that Brooklyn neighborhood. “Mom Tells Me there is No Reason to Live” is a brand-new/just typed up poem about her mother as was “Brett & Mom in Assisted Living” a funny dialogue based on a misunderstanding. Back to the book (but still talking about the brain) she finished by reading “I Imagine the Famous Brain Surgeon, Dr. Quiñonez, Operating on My Mind.”  While this is about the third time I've heard Melody Davis read, her performance was fresh, different than her other readings, the poems always interesting, while she connected with the audience with warmth & humor.

After the break I paid tribute to Paul Weinman by reading an old poem of mine set in the QE2 where Paul often read, “Where Were the Professors?” Don Levy (who had also been there at the QE2) read about his 1st TV crush “Rockin’ with Robin.” Shannon Shoemaker showed up with her notebook & read a short untitled poem of memory of lost love. Karen Fabiane’s piece was somewhat longer, the dramatic dialogue at a bar “Junkie Pathétique.” Chad Lowther preferred to perform last, & did, an improvised piece dedicated to his friend Kendra titled “Nothing” a meditation on pain.

So ended another Third Thursday at the Social Justice Center, but we’ll be back on the next third Thursday at 7:30P, the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY — $3.00 donation supports poetry events, pays the featured poet & supports the Social Justice Center.

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