May 24, 2016

Sunday Four Poetry, May 22

A Sunday afternoon for poetry up in Voorheesville, with a cluster of open mic poets & a featured poet, Judith Saunders. But first the open mic, with me as the first reader; I read an old poem of break-up angst “This Feels So Bad It’s Got to Be the Blues,” then a new piece about old books “Decomposition.” Bob Sharkey shared a couple of scary poems, the first about reading with his granddaughter “Scary People,” then “Things” about what lurked in the back of Woolworth’s & library stacks. Dennis Sullivan was our singular host for the afternoon (his often co-hosts MIA) & read a trio of poems philosophizing on dreams & life & death, “A Lesson of Life, for Jennifer” (a student from years ago), “Desert Face,” & the aphoristic “What I’m Doing Monday.”

Terry Rooney was next & he began with a vividly descriptive poem about the sights & smells of a town in Central America, then a new piece “Do Large Primitives Need to Be Drunk to Have Sex?” & “Directions.” Lloyd Barnhart read a poem in dialect about being “Lost on a Backroad” then challenged us to figure out what he was talking about in his poem “The Green Box” (I couldn’t), &, like Bob Sharkey, a poem about reading to his 3 year-old grandchild, “Small Prices.”

Not only was Peter Boudreaux back among us, but he was considerably taller & straighter; he read a poem about Winter in his hill town “Inside the Womb,” then a poem about having to stop to pee while driving (been there). Tom Corrado had copies of his latest collection of “Screen Dumps,” this #201 to #250, bringing us (almost) up-to-date; he read #204, then went beyond the book with #292. Jonathan Bright tried to explain to us the various phases he has gone through — nihilist, agnostic, atheist, etc. —& his first poem was from his nihilist phase “Neil is Trying to Write a Love Note,” then considered the universes in the cells of an acorn “Beneath the Hoof,” then a poem titled “Perceived Obsolescence.”

This afternoon’s featured poet, Judith Saunders, teaches at Marist College & had 2 collections of poems for sale, Seizing This Chance (Kattywompus Press, 2014) & Lost Partners (Futurecycle Press, 2015). She said she likes to write poems about animals & plants & began with “Echidna” (an Australian egg-laying mammal), “What’s for Dinner” (alligator meat at the supermarket), “Mid-Hudson Moose,” & one about the star-nosed mole. Then on to plants: “Escaped Daffodils” & a poem about woodbine. She introduced us to the “3-way poem,” a form invented by British poet Charles Tomlinson (1927 - 2015), & read her try at it “Fishkill Sunset.” Her poem “The Philosopher” was about her father saving fortunes from fortune cookies, then on to a poem based on a tabloid headline about attempts to turn hamburger back to a cow. Lost Partners is a collection of ekphrastic poems & she ended her reading with a selection from the book, the title piece (which is about orphaned earrings set in grout), “Goddesses,” “Buddha and Cave” & “Photocollage.” Her poems are richly descriptive, vivid, discursive, & the range of interesting topics kept us attentive & rapt.

Sunday Four Poetry happens at 3PM at the Old Songs Community Center in Voorheesville, NY on most 4th Sundays of the month (the series takes the months of July & August off).

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