October 17, 2016

Poets of Earth, Water, Tree & Sky, October 14

The open mic series at the Pine Hollow Arboretum in Slingerlands, with "the Bird," Alan Casline, as our host.

The first reader was Linda Miller with a poem about her grandmother “Disappearance,” then a poem, “Once,” in an invented form that she didn’t explain but seemed to be based on repetition. Bob Sharkey read Bob Dylan lyrics in a nod to the announcement of Dylan’s receiving the Nobel Prize in Literature, then his own poem “Holy Mother of God” on the proliferation of “Marys” in an Irish family, & his annual cento based on poems in the Best American Poetry 2016 “Plunder.” Mark O’Brien began with a poem based on a prompt for an appropriation, then one with a nod to the end of the baseball season, & another influenced by the poem Ed Hirsch. Alifair Skebe read a piece titled “A White Cast Iron Bathtub” something you’ve seen on TV advertising.

Diane Sefcik read “Hoodoos,” a poem responding to a prompt with a list of unusual words. A.C. Everson read 2 poems she had not read out before, “Plans” & “Symbiotic Summer” about her relationship with mosquitos.

Tonight’s featured poet was Dawn Marar who does not read out much so it was a treat to get a big chunk of her work. She began provocatively enough with a poem on sex & love, writing in the heat & bugs of Summer “Late Summer Missive,” then to a haibun, “Sparkles,” about early romance.
Dawn Marar & Alifair Skebe
With Alifair Skebe joining her, they read a piece built on 2 interlaced texts, 2 voices. Then a couple poems referencing the Middle East, first Jordan (& the UAlbany campus) & then one set in Istanbul, Medusa spooking the Christians. Speaking of which “Mystical Experience of a Modern American Woman” is poem in 11 parts, filled with Christian images, & “Ode to a Paper Clip” was about the writer’s dilemma. She ended, appropriately enough, with a poem titled “Endgame”, a ghazal on marriage & honeymoon & an escape from politics. We really need to hear her read her poems more often.

After a break (during which we lost a noticeable chunk of the audience, a characteristic of the Woodstock readers, but rare here), the next open mic reader, Marian DeGennaro read a simple, moving piece titled “Life” remembering a child leaving & the losses of a long life. Julie Lomoe’s piece, “The Angry Author,” was a screed against those who haven’t/won’t buy her books (but like I say, if you’re in the writing business to make money you’re in the wrong business). Joe Krausman began with a poem about the heart that is a drum & the spin & dance of the Earth, then pondered “What Kind of Death Will You Have?” in what season, & onto a piece about Spring cleaning & throwing things out.

Speaking of seasons, I followed with 2 seasonal poems, so-to-speak, “Baseball in Palestine” & “When Donald Trump Farts.” Our host, Alan Casline talked about his recent vacationing in Yosemite & Sequoia National Parks, & read some impressions inspired by Chinese poets, then a poem titled “Fig Trees” based on the Gospel story of Jesus cursing the fig tree, & a romantic poem for his wife, “One Day of Morning Rain.”

There is only one more session next month to this season’s reading series at the Pine Hollow Arboretum in Slingerlands, but we hope & expect that it will return when the snow is gone in the Spring.

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