April 23, 2017

Albany WordFest, Monday, April 17

Back again to the Hudson River Coffee House for the start of Albany WordFest 2017, another reading put together by Havey Havel. There were 5 poets scheduled to read.

First to the mic was a frequent reader at downtown open mics, Sylvia Barnard. She began with some older Easter poems from her 2012 book Trees, “Easter 1988” & one on the Anglo-Saxon goddess “Eostre” who gave her name to our holiday. A more recent poem, “March,” was from a trip to England, then a couple poems, & some Haikus, set in Albany in Washington Park, including “Shiobahn In Washington Park Age 46.” There was a poem for her great-great-grandparents & one about the submerged land in the North Sea “Doggerland.” She read a poem for a recently deceased friend who had an imaginary spouse, then a trilogy of poems based on stories a friend had told her about growing up in Denmark during World War II, & a poem about a dead friend who is still on Facebook.

Another familiar face on the scene, as well as at readings her at the Coffee House, is Brian Dorn. He also began with Easter poems, one, “Skyline,” imagining The Egg at the Empire State Plaza decorated for Easter, another told the story of the Resurrection in a short rhyme. His poems were all about Albany people, places & things, including the history of modern era minor league baseball teams, TV personalities (Rachael Rae & Billy Fuccillo), & Gaslight Village & Frontier Town. He ended with a chant-like tribute piece that he wrote for featured reading at Arthur’s Market in Schenectady.

Jacqueline Kirkpatrick isn’t as frequent on the scene as she had been a while back so it was good to hear a chunk of her work tonight. Said it would be “dark” reading & indeed it was, beginning with “Not an Easter Poem” with its flashback of being beaten, then a series of short, grim poems. On to “Essentially” in all its implications, an appreciative poem to her team “Paramour,” one on being drunk in NYC after a concert, “Honesty” (writing a love poem) & others. Just wish she would come out to the open mics more often.

Speaking of not being at community events, these days Daniel Nester is mostly seen in the halls of Academe. Tonight he read from the 2 volumes of God Save My Queen (Soft Skull Press) in which the titles of each of the pieces are the titles of tunes from the Queen albums (if you need a quick refresher course on the band, here is a good place to start). Given the time when the band was active (& Freddy Mercury was still alive), & the writer’s age, the poems were filled with juvenile fantasies, masturbation, & drinking.

Poetyc Visionz, eager for affirmation, had to ask the audience 3 times “How you doin’?” (it had been a long night already). He said his favorite of his own poems was “7” so he thought he would do 7 poems, ending with “7”. His poems are the stuff of motivational speakers, with titles like “Be Great Full,” & imagining a place (on the 9th cloud) where dreams come true. He also performed a narrative piece whose plot was predicated on puns based on the names of celebrities, in another poem he used persistent alliteration to spell out “multiple talents.” For the poem “Poet” he divided the audience into 2 sections for the audience participation to sound out “po” “et”. The infamous “7” is a bit of spurious facts & faux mysticism, finding the number 7 in everything (are there really 7 “parts” to the heart? & I think it’s 9 holes for the human body).

A broad, eclectic mix of poets for the start of Albany WordFest 2017.

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