September 8, 2016

Yes! Reading Series, September 3

The new season of 1st Saturday readings at, for the time being, the Albany Center Gallery, began with 3 young, experimental writers, Annie Christain, Kenyatta JP Garcia, & Susan Landers.

Co-host Matthew Klane introduced Annie Christain, who had read at the Third Thursday Poetry Night back in March, & whose new book Tall As You Are Tall Between Them is just out from C&R Press. She read a generous selection from the book, including poems inspired by her teaching in China, “The Sect Which Pulls the Sinew: I’ve Seen You Handle Cocoons” & “LAPD, Blue Child, and Low Daily Rates: No One Was Killed in the Square.” She introduced “Inside a Handbasket in the Burlesque Theater” as “a sound poem;” the poem "A Maple Gets Red” plays off a photograph from the wedding of John Lennon & Yoko Ono. Her poems, while often containing pop culture references & some ironic humor, are difficult on 1st (or 2nd) hearing, but she is a savvy enough reader to provide for each some introductory context so that the listener is not completely lost hearing them for the 1st time.

Co-host James Belflower introduced Kenyatta JP Garcia, who in contrast to Annie’s reading, gave no introductions to his work (except once he mentioned a poem he was not going to read). He began by reading from a pocket-sized notebook, then from his phone, free-flowing, associative automatic writing without titles, read fast, but some carried along by chant-like repetitions. He also read from a printed manuscript titled “Last Word” that contained references to pop & gay culture, & some welcome bits of humor. Again, like Annie’s, work that a listener/reader would benefit from revisiting again when collected into a book.

Susan Landers read from her book-length work of “investigative poetry” Franklinstein (Roof Books, 2016). Sub-titled “Or, the making of a modern neighborhood,” it is context, the story of the Germantown section of Philadelphia where the author grew up. Although built on historical research & a reading of archival documents, there is much memory in it too, including a memoir of her mother’s death. & also in contrast to the other readers’ work, there was a very strong presence of “I.” It is a story of white flight, & racism & the church’s role in the frightened, collapsing community. The title is a reference to Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin & to Gertrude Stein — indeed some of the sections she read were composed of the repetitions Stein often used. Two very American inspirations to a very American story which I am looking forward to reading in its entirety.

As I alluded to above, the fate & location of the Albany Center Gallery, & thus of the Yes! reading series is uncertain & to be decided probably in the next few months. However, until you hear otherwise the readings are scheduled through December for the 1st Saturday of each month at the Albany Center Gallery, 39 Columbia St., Albany, NY. Check out their FaceBook page  to stay up to date.

No comments: