June 29, 2017
This was one reading I had to be at — I was the featured poet. But then, I always enjoy going to this gathering of community poets hosted by Catherine Norr.
Richard Jerin was the first up with a short, “dreamy, romantic” piece, then a much longer work in 3 parts titled “Summer Winds.” Alan Catlin read 2 poems that recalled the draft from the 1960s, “College Bar 1968,” & “Veterans For Peace 1970 Revisited” (about recent Viet Nam veterans attending college).
Then it was my turn as featured poet. I had planned my reading to promote Inauguration Raga & read a number of selections from that chapbook, surrounded by other pieces. I began & ended with poems (#87 & #20) from my new series “What Makes America Great.” Also, “Joe Krausman” from boundless abodes of Albany (Benevolent Bird Press, 2010), an old piece recalling a buddy from my Army training “John Lees,” & “Shaken, Stirred” from Gloucester Notes (FootHills Publishing, 2015).
After the break Catherine Norr read a bouquet of American haiku on topics ranging from the attack on the World Trade Center, to language, gardening & few on her beloved mountain cabin. Bob Sharkey’s first poem was about observing the distress of a mother when no one shows up for her son’s pool-side birthday party, then “Boys” about visiting his hometown & Maine & wondering what he would be have become had he stayed. Betty Zerbst read a couple poems in rhyme, a prairie poem “A Splash of Pink,” & “Bits & Pieces” about a family reunion.
Arthur’s Market Open Mic takes place each 2nd Wednesday of the month at 7:30PM at Arthur’s Market at the monument in Schenectady’s Stockade section — a featured poet & an open mic.
June 27, 2017
This was the last session for the season; Nancy Klepsch & I will be back in September for our 8th year at the Arts Center.
Peggy LeGee read a new episode, “Enter the Shopping Cart Man,” to her dumpster cat graphic novel. Dan Curley’s list poem “I Wish” also included cats, & corporations, & more. My co-host Nancy Klepsch began with a biographical portrait of “A Shipbuilder,” then one about her father, with a title taken from Joni Mitchell, “God Must Be A Boogie Man.”
2nd Sunday @ 2: Poetry + Prose will be back in September on — you guessed it! — the 2nd Sunday, here at the Arts Center of the Capital Region on River St. in Troy NY — 2 poems or a piece of prose no longer than 5 minutes.
June 26, 2017
Another festive gathering of poets at the Pine Hollow Arboretum for the featured poet Dianne Sefcik & to read our own work in the open mic.
Paul Amidon read a couple of memoir poems, the first “Old Friends” about a 90-year-old veteran, then a piece about collecting the comics from “Bazooka Joe” gum. Speaking of Joe, Joe Krausman read his laconic “Freak Accident” & a true story “On Being Un-employed in My 40th Year.” Our host at the Arboretum John Abhul often reads philosophical essays, tonight read philosophical poems, “The Majesty of Being,” “Thoughts” (from 2009) & the recent “The Standard.” Mark O’Brien aka Obeeduid began with a piece on the birth of his granddaughter from his Blog, then to one for Michael Czarnecki’s forthcoming anthology of poems about Route 20, & one from Bernadette Mayer’s workshop “Frozen Cookies.”
After a break, the open mic continued with Tim Verhaegen reading a characteristically hysterical story of a recent encounter at a bus stop that brought back memories of parties & sex from the past. Our host Alan Casline read 3 poems about the South-West, the first “Gate Closed” about checking out a spring, another about looking for a poet’s house in Santa Fe, & the last about a clay turtle (the actual object in question passed around to the audience). Peter Bourdreaux read about hero anxiety “Yes No Maybe.” Tom Corrado finished off the open mic with still another in the infinite series of “Screen Dumps,” this #369.
Poets of Earth, Water, Tree and Sky continues at the Pine Hollow Arboretum, 16 Maple Ave., Slingerlands, NY into November -- usually, but not always, on the 1st Friday of the month.
June 16, 2017
Another packed house for poetry in Saratoga. Our host, Carol Graser, started us off with an early poem of Walt Whitman’s “O Me! O Life!” Then on to the open mic list.
Rodney Parrott read excerpts from Langston Hughes’s still poignant “Let America Be America Again.” Barbara Garro was dressed as “Mother Goose” to read 2 new Mother Goose rhymes, “Little Suzie Sycamore” & “It” (makes me wonder if Mother Goose does “it”).
Tonight’s featured poet was Alifair Skebe, whom I find it difficult to get enough of. In & around her own work she shared poems by others, such as Dwayne Wilder, Susan Deer Cloud, & David Landry. Her own poems included “With Tiger Force,” “Kerrville” (from the early Love Letters: Les Cartes Postales), & a poem based on Lucille Clifton’s “What the Mirror Said.” From Thin Matter (FootHills Publishing, 2017) she read “Mirror Riddles,” “Poem for ISI[S][L],” “Seen This Before,” “When I Died” (based on Emily Dickinson), “US War Production Board,” “Freedom,” & the tour-de-force political piece “The Dead & Dying Poem” after Muriel Rukeyser’s “Twentynine Poems.” Alifair also has a new chapbook just out from Benevolent Bird Press The Voyage of the Beagle, an excerpt (An Interlace Poem), short pieces using the text from Charles Darwin’s work, from which she read “Here You Are.” Always different & always worth hearing.
After a break, Carol Graser returned us to the open mic with her poem “Ghosts of Ambitions” on writing & being a poet. Carol Jewell read a very short poem (5 words) titled “Puzzle” then read “Poem without a Title.” Serena tempted us with the wonderfully provocative “Do You Want It?” in which she explored euphemisms for having sex, then a piece written to buoy up a friend “And So God Lived God Became.” It was good to see some of these regional poets like Katrinka Moore who doesn’t make it out to open mics to read, tonight “King Lear In a Nutshell.” Dawn Marar’s poem “On the Road to Damascus” was an ironic piece on danger from a visit to Syria, “Knots & Bolts” on seeing an old lover. Anna Feldstein, one of the Caffè Lena workers, read “Late Train” an unsettling story about an encounter on a train & remembering a father she never had. Maya read a complex love poem remembering a love “70 in February in Upstate New York.”
This reading is held each 1st Monday of each month in the newly renovated space of Caffè Lena on Phila St. in Saratoga Springs, NY, at 7:30PM — $5.00. It includes featured poets & an open mic for the rest of us.
June 10, 2017
I was in the mood for a night at The Low Beat & poetry. Turns out it was a “going-away-party” for Amani O+ who is taking the Summer off to work on Soul Fire Farm in Grafton (not that far away), turning the hosting duties to a couple of other women poets, including Mariah Barber, whose poem “Fuck Butterflies” Amani read to get us going.
In many ways it was rough night for my note-taking, with the names of the open mic poets sometimes lost in the background music, or not clearly said by the rotating string of guest hosts. I did the best I could.
I was first up, reading “John Lees,” a memoir of sorts of my days in the Army that I like to read around Memorial Day. Poetik began with a letter to Donald Trump, then “Grab a Chain” a piece on vulnerability. Then a string of rotating hosts introducing the poets, some of whom seemed to be known to others, but needed to be introduced themselves for folks like me who had no idea who they were. Victorio Reyes did his rousing piece “This is a Rant Not a Poem” parts 1 & 2, then he also had “An Open Letter to the 45th President.”
Nitty Gritty Slam continues each 1st (open mic) & 3rd (Slam) Tuesdays at The Low Beat, 335 Central Ave., Albany, NY — $5.00 (but if you are a student, ask, I think you get in for free).
June 7, 2017
The Albany Symphony American Music Festival was held May 31 to June 4 with multiple events each day. I decided early on that I would get a full festival pass rather than just attend 1 or 2 performance as I had in the past. By the time Sunday rolled around I had been to 7 performances from Thursday on, including this Friday evening poetry event. Poetry Theatre was held at the Troy Kitchen, where Poetic Vibe takes place each Monday. The event was run under the auspices of “Next Gen,” apparently a way for the ASO fund-raisers to tap into the affluence of the upwardly mobile millennials (I think we used to call them "Yuppies" back in the last Century).
For me, it was then on to EMPAC for the annual Dogs of Desire concert tonight & many more performances throughout the end of the week. Perhaps if the ASO decides to include a poetry reading as part of its annual American Music Festival next year they can be convinced to include some of the local wordsmiths in their program & attract local poets to their festival so that I won’t have to be so all alone.