November 29, 2015

Third Thursday Poetry Night, November 19

I’ve been known to say, “If your friends & family don’t come to your readings, who will?” Our featured poet Carol H. Jewell did her job & packed the house. & since many of her friends are poets, we had a whopping 18 folks signed-up for the open mic. Before we got to that I had to invoke the night’s Muse, & since it was the 100th anniversary of the execution/assassination of the American labor organizer, poet & artist Joe Hill, I read the lyrics to one of his songs.

Ben (I thought he had written “Ber”) read a short poem that was over before I could snap his picture; later I bought his hand-made chapbook, ash from pallet town, which contained the poem he had read, & found out his name is Ben Atwood.

I had trouble also deciphering Samuel Maurice’s name from the sign-up sheet; he read a couple pages from a long poem “Shaving” which was more about trying to sleep. Kate McNairy (next month’s featured poet) read us a sample, “A Cup of Coffee,” on loneliness. Joe Krausman followed with a poem about “The Game of Life: Snake House” (about his mother & mice). It was good to see Sue Oringel out to read & she entertained us with a seasonal piece “November.” John Thomas Allen first asked me not to take his picture, then gave a long introduction to a love poem, “Shaded,” from his collection of his surrealist pieces.

Amber O’Sullivan read a poem to her from her cigarettes, which she was trying to quit during finals week. Allison Paster-Torres read “Hush” about returning to her childhood home, trying to sleep amidst fear. Alyssa Cohorn read “Me from Texas” about a good Southern girl buying ice cream. Lee Geiselmann read an erasure poem titled “Cut Flower” from the prologue to The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.

Carol H. Jewell, tonight’s featured poet, is not one of those MFA students who just writes for her assignments & reads for her class, but a poet whom I had first heard reading out in the community open mics. She began her reading with formal poems, a winter pantoum, another pantoum titled “Attachment”, then a cento using lines from a variety of 20th century poets, then mixing forms into “Cento/Pantoum #1” again from a mix of poets. Then she switched forms to read an elegy for her brother “Sestina for Mark,” & a love poem to her partner “Villanelle for Becky” which concluded her “formal” poems as she moved on to free verse. Most of these poems were read without introduction. “Furtive” was about reading old poems, yearning for a past love, while “Untouchable” was prompted by reading about personality types in a psychology text. She read a series of poems with a literary theme: “Fantasy Realized” was set in at an open mic, “Literary Devices” talked about enjambment & other devices, ending with literary a joke, while “Writer” was about watching a spider, & “Cadence” was a series of 5 short Nature poems. “Hospital Poem #2,” from a recent stay, found humor in her hospital bed, & in related in some way “The Cure for Everything” was about salt-water, in some of its forms. The autobiographical “I Cannot Can’t Remember List” was written for a class this semester. She ended with a series of short, descriptive nostalgic poems about her dead brother, “Late December 2014,” “The Boxes of Your Stuff,” “Blue Sky Eyes” & “Chance Encounter.”

After a short break, I continued the open mic with a reading of my poem, inspired by Carol’s pantoums (& some of her poems about cats). I was followed by K(evin) P(eterson) who read a pop-culture piece “On Confusing Bo Derek with Bo Jackson.” Phil Good read a work-in-progress for Bernadette, recollections & a limited edition, & listing some famous poets.

Bernadette signed up simply as “B. Mayer” & read the playfully perplexing “Francois Villon Follows the Thin-Line.” Jacky K(irkpatrick) read “On Being Gregory’s Lover,” an imaginary Corso, of course. Billy (Stanley) made a rare appearance here to read “Heroes,” set on a richly described starry road in Kansas. Karen Fabiane who will read in this series later in the year, read the labyrinthine “Now Morning” (or “mourning”?). Bob Sharkey brought the night to a close with a brief, untitled piece.

Join us at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY for an open mic with a featured local/regional/national poet, for a modest (or immodest, if you are so inclined) donation, each third Thursday of each month.

& may the Muse be with you.


Shirley Brewer said...

Hi Dan,

I called Rezsin Adams today, and we were reminiscing about Third Thursdays at the SJC. I enjoyed the ones I attended very much, including one where I got to sit on your lap - when you were in Santa mode!!
All Best and Happy Holidays!

Shirley Brewer

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