October 9, 2016

Caffè Lena Open Mic, October 5

Banned Books Week display at Northshire Bookstore
This night at Northshire Bookstore in Saratoga Springs, as the historic location of Caffè Lena is renovated. Our host, Carol Graser, started us off with a poem from the anthology Joe Bruchac tossed to her at the 100 Thousand Poets for Change a couple weeks ago. Then on to the open mic for a while before the featured poets, Judith Kerman & Adam Tedesco.

Kat was first with 2 short pieces, “You Say” & the related “I Speak.” I was next on the list & read for the Jewish holidays “Tashlich” from my chapbook Gloucester Notes, then a piece from my modernization of poems from Han Shan, the bitter “Open Mic.” Kate McNairy read her short poems “A Cup of Rum Tea” & “What Bodies.”

Dineen Carta confessed that this was her 1st open mic, but she was here with her self-published full-length collection of her poems & essays Loving the Ache, & read about being at a Summer festival alone (“Neon Summer”) & “Her” a sad poem at Christmas (She is the latest in a new phenomena of poets who publish a collection of poems before they even try their work out in the open mic world).

The 1st of the featured poets, Judith Kerman, read mostly from her new collection Aleph, broken - Poems from My Diaspora (Broadstone Books), appropriate poems during the Jewish high holy days, beginning with a Rosh Hashanah poem “Cholent” (a stew). Then to “From Pictures at an Exhibition,” “Learning the Haftorah,” & a memoir poem for her mother. She read from a series of poems as definitions, “Grief,” “Israel,” & “Pumpernicklel” (another childhood memoir). The poems “Erev Yom Kippur” & “Imagining Sukkot” returned to the season theme. “Global Positioning” & “Salad” both contained tomatoes, while “The Woman Who Buys Her Own Diamonds” had a dose of defiant humor. She ended with 2 pieces that she sang, “Star Nosed Mole” & “Deep Sea Diver” (not in the book). Good poems from a book worth having.

Adam Tedesco is an Albany poet, editor, publisher whose work intrigues & perplexes me. He began with a couple poems filled with burning & dreams, then one with ducks & geese, “The Fowlers.” He described his poems from his chapbook Heart Sutra (Reality Beach, 2016) as his attempt to “explode the heart,” in which his heart is a character/persona. Then a couple of poems playing on the visual, “Natural Light” & what is perhaps a love poem, on our aquatic place in the world, & a poem for fans of Guns ’n’ Roses. He included a couple of haibuns which would have surprised Basho, then read the lush “My Mushroom Poem.” He ended with what he called “a special poem” written on the 4th of July with help from his wife Lisa.

Back to the open mic with the return of Nancy Denofio who read an old poem “On Echo Mountain” a narrative with Heineken.

Margo Mensing talked about her work from his life series “Dead at My Age,” parts of which are currently at the Art Gallery at the Albany Airport, & her current subject, the poetry of Denise Levertov, & read 2 cut-ups from Levertov's collected poems “Not So Much Anymore” & a poem composed of only verbs “Mark Change.” Jackie Craven announced that her new book Our Lives Become Unmanageable was just published by Omnidawn, but read a poem from a recent workshop with Henri Cole, “In the Matter of Mies van der Rohe.”

Rodney Parrott read a poem in 4 parts about play, ironically delivered in his usual serious, thoughtful & decidedly un-playful manner. Avery, on the other hand, is characteristically playful, beginning with a nod to Adam’s chapbook with “What Is that Subtle Background Buzz” based on the Prajnaparamita Sutra (the Heart Sutra), then the enthusiastic “We Are the Sky.” Barbara Garro frequently ends up as the last reader, tonight read “Life Train” & a poem about walking “Nature Plays.”

This open mic series takes place on the 1st Wednesday of each month in Saratoga Springs, NY, & while the historic Caffè Lena location on Phila St. is undergoing renovation the readings had been held at the Northshire Bookstore on Broadway — but next month will be held elsewhere so stay tuned so you know where to go.

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