September 12, 2016

Caffè Lena Poetry Open Mic, September 7

Host Carol Graser was back in the temporary spot in the Children’s section of the Northshire Bookstore in Saratoga Springs as the Caffè Lena site on Phila St. undergoes rennovations. She started us off right with a poem by Czeslaw Milosz (1911 - 2004).

I led off the open mic with 2 recent poems, “Finding Pokémon” & the driving directions “How to Find Clit Court” (a real street in Colonie, NY). Barbara Garro read a piece about using the computer at the local public library, “This Writer,” then a poem on “The Hollow Life.” Eric Krantz managed to squeeze in 3 short pieces, the rhyming humor of “Enigma,” a more serious “There is No Closure,” more rhymed humor about being wakened by the Muse, “The Downside of Poetry.”

Tonight’s “featured poet” was actually a poetry group that started out in 2012 in the Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, VT, with 4 writers making the trip tonight to read. Some read from their 2015 collection Border Lines.

Claire North read just one piece, “It’s Mattress Burning Time” from stories she heard from an aunt who had been a nurse/mid-wife in Appalachia, full of humorous & gross details.

Carol Cone also used humor in both her pieces, the first “Mapping the Situation” was set up like an ad for an application to help one find an item in a suitcase. The other a real-life description of “Driving in the Fog After Dark.”

Also with humorous pieces, Marianne Rahn-Erickson read a narrative of a battered wife sent to an asylum “How Granny Got Loose,” then an urban tale from her youth “The Sweeney Boys Are Missing on FaceBook.”

Jon Matthewson apologized that he hadn’t written any poetry in recent months because he is engaged in a project to read all the stories & books of mystery writer Ellery Queen, in chronological order. The older poems that he did read were engaging & intricate. “The Stove Fan Master of Voices” was built on blues themes & used blues-like repetitions, while “Multi-Layered Mona Lisa” was not just about scientists discovering the versions of the famous painting but with references to the Higgs boson.

Back to the open mic, Jesse did a brief break-up pantoum, then a free-style in hip-hop rhymes that was mostly about itself. Effy Redman has returned to Saratoga Springs, & recently had a piece published in the New York Times, & tonight read “The Wall” about a place in New York City where she would sit when she was lost & homeless, then a happier piece about being back here, “Solitude Lyric.” Rachel Cullen was visiting here & said she had just started writing again (she had been a feature at the Caffè Lena open mic a few years ago) & read 2 post-break-up poems “When the Silence Settles” & “Past Tense Comes Naturally.”

Drew read from his phone “Lost” about missing a good friend. Hannah also read from her phone, a rambling, unedited piece written on the 1st day of Spring, tracking her free-flowing emotions. Our host Carol Graser took a turn with a descriptive poem “Beach on the Great Sacandaga Lake.”

Tim Snider has been a regular fixture at the Caffè Lena open mic & announced that he is moving out of the area & so was allowed to read 4 short poems, all on biker themes (of course), explaining biker lingo in rhyme: “Biker,” “Leathers,” “The Code” (on being “old school”), & a final piece on his bandana (“I look like a cowboy…”) that he removed & tied in respect to the mic stand when he finished. Safe travels, Tim!

As of now, it appears that the renovations at the Caffè Lena site on Phila Street will be completed in the middle of November, & because Northshire Bookstore, starting in the Fall, closes at 7PM, the fate & location of this 1st Wednesday open mic for the next couple of months remains uncertain. One will just have to wait & see.

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