April 22, 2016

WordFest 2016 — Reading at the Hudson River Coffee House, April 18

A day off from poetry, then back in Albany to dive into the week-long Albany WordFest for the second night of readings. Got to the coffeehouse on Quail St. after the reading had started. Harvey Havel was the host & had put the program together. I missed the first reader & got there as Professor Daniel Nester was reading from his memoir of his perpetual adolescence Shader: 99 Notes on Car Washes, Making Out in Church, Grief, & Other Unlearnable Subjects.

Next up was the ubiquitous Brian Dorn with his signature rhyming poems from his collection From My Poems to Yours, including the title poem, among others, “Sad Poems,” & a wonderful rendition of “Poetry Is Sexy,” accompanied by his wife Laura.

Annie Christain had been my featured poet in March at the Third Thursday & it was good to hear her again, even some of the same poems I enjoyed the first time around. She likes to experiment with different, & unusual, material such as a poem “based on coded personal messages” she explained with the equally odd title “Jokes About Nepalese Villages Often Include Goats.” I was glad to hear again her sound poem “Inside a Handbasket in the Burlesque Theater,” & the imagined back story of John & Yoko’s honeymoon photos “A Maple Gets Red.”

John Thomas Allen is a poet whom I’ve only seen read at events that Harvey Havel puts together, & rarely elsewhere in our busy poetry scene. He said he had just self-published a book of his writings & seemed unnecessarily apologetic about it. A piece titled “The Nun’s Leggos” was a bit of automatic writing, with odd adjectives to make it sound more surreal. In fact his work has that surreal quality in the style of André Breton, with a hint of William S. Burroughs cadence thrown in. One piece referenced the surrealist Robert Desnos, another Frank Stanford, & all seemed tinged with Roman Catholic images & references.

More WordFest coming up all week. Check AlbanyPoets.com for a full schedule.

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