November 5, 2015

Sunday Four Poetry, October 25

I missed the season opener of this series last month but had to be here for today’s featured poet Karen Skolfield. I had met Karen at the 2014 Split This Rock Poetry Festival when when she read as a winner of the poetry contest & invited her to read at the Third Thursday Poetry Night. But first today we had an impressive line of open mic poets, introduced by Edie Abrams.

Mark O’Brien began with a plaintive “missing you” poem, then to a childhood memoir about shooting squirrels “Gun Control,” & another “You Can Always Burn that Bridge When You Come To It.” Dan Lawlor said he was reading of couple of early, “old-fashioned” (i.e., rhyming), poems, “A Young Boy’s Literary Friends” (a tribute to the books he read as a youth), & an exploration of “What Is Music?”  Dennis Sullivan’s poem on the scourge of power started like Horace’s Epode 2 “Beatus Ille Qui” (happy is he who), then he read a poem for me, “All’s Well that Never Was” from when the hosts of Sunday Four honored me with the Arthur Dare Willis Award in 2011. Then I followed with a poem about my 2009 colonoscopy “Thru the Circle,” & a related piece “At the Center.”

Kathleen O’Brien’s first poem “Waste” was about food going bad, & her next poem “Thank You” was also a descriptive piece but this about the Home Front Cafe in Altamont. Joe Krausman injected some humor into the afternoon’s reading with a funny piece “Independence Day” about a picnic gone bad & the lawsuits that followed, then a poem on the dilemma of making choices, this or that. Lloyd Barnhart’s poem “Aromatherapy” was a rare piece that described smells, in this poem, of Autumn, then a square dance/death poem “Mockingbird.” Howard Kogan gave us “A Brief History of Fun” over the changing years. Sally Rhoades stuck close to her family, beginning with the auto-biographical “When I Was a Poet,” the “The Sky is My Witness” on her father as a poet, & ending with a poem for her daughters “A Summer Serenade.”

Philomena Moriarty began with a new piece about the violence of boys playing punch-ball, “New Orleans” (a “flash-back”), & a poem from her new book My Moon Self “If Poems Were Wishes.” Alan Casline returned from a visit to Montana with “Mountain Song” about clouds & birds, then read 2 poems from his recent book 64 Changes (FootHills Publishing, 2015), “The Army” (#7 in the I Ching) & “Deliverance on the Day For It” (#40), both read for the passing of a cousin. Bob Sharkey’s poems were of Maine, first displaying a shell carefully unwrapped for “The Shark’s Eye” with references to Longfellow & E.A. Robinson, then another about a storm in the off season.

Edie Abram’s poem was a timely piece about changes “The First Frost.” Joan Gran read a couple of companion pieces from a series of poems on the death of her mother, but both poems were about her father, “The Funeral” & “The Day After the Funeral.” Paul Amidon finished out the open mic with a couple of memoir poems, “Dinner for Two” & “Legacy” (a box of old photos & a garden gone to weeds).

Dennis Sullivan introduced the afternoon's featured poet, Karen Skolfield. She began with poems from her wonderful book Frost in the Low Areas (Zone 3 Press, 2013), the book’s opening poem “Where Babies Come From,” then “Lost Mountain,” “Rumors of her Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated,” &, by special request from Dennis, “Ode to the Fan” a touching memoir of her youth & her father. Then Karen read some new poems, “I Asked My Son To Send Me a Word for a Poem & He Sent ‘Nothing’” with Biblical references, “Raven versus Crow” a made-up conversation with her son, “Death’s Head Necklace,” & a poem based on the curious fact (?) that there are only 2 escalators in Wyoming “Upward Mobility.” She ended with a couple poems from a new manuscript on military themes, “Double Arm Transplant” & another poem with Biblical references “Combined Plow & Gun Patent, 1862.” I admit to being a big fan of Karen’s intricate & engaged poetry, but I know from the reactions of the other members of the entranced audience that she garnered a number of other new fans this afternoon as well.

Sunday Four Poetry continues each 4th Sunday of the month at 3:00PM at the Old Songs Community Center, Main St., Voorheesville, NY, for a modest donation supporting the featured poet & Old Songs.

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