October 9, 2017

100 Thousand Poets for Change, September 30

100 Thousand Poets for Change was started in 2011 by poets Michael Rothenberg & Terri Carrion as “a grassroots organization that brings communities together to call for environmental, social, and political change within the framework of peace and sustainability.” Events are held all over the world. In recent years readings in upstate New York have been held at SUNY Adirondack, as they were this year. But since my co-conspirator in 3 Guys from Albany, Charlie Rossiter moved from Chicago to Bennington, VT he has begun to put together poetry events there, so I took the trip over to the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Bennington. In addition to the performers there was a bevy of volunteers to fill the audience, with Charlie as our host.

The first performer was dancer Barbara Roan who performed an impressionistic Kaddish piece, unfortunately without the music by Ravel it was based on.

Jerry Byrd said his poem was the first he’d written in a long time, thinking about America “We the People,” then read a poem by Mark Nepo. I was up next with selections from my 2017 chapbook Inauguration Raga (A.P.D.). Tracey Forest sang & played a guitar with a song about “waking up/standing up.” Another Albany (actually Voorheesville) poet, Mimi Moriarty, read a trio of anti-war poems, “Vets Reading Poetry,” “I Have Come to Know America,” & “Pigeons on a Cornice” which begins with images at a street fair in Troy, NY.  Local storyteller Forest Byrd told a tale of rats in a house he is restoring.

Host Charlie Rossiter started off solo with his signature piece “Snake Black Solo,” then a duet with his son Jack Rossiter-Munley doing a faux CW song titled “Country Eastern.” Bill Thcoing did a trio of rhyming poems, on water, on hope & one titled “I Had a Dream.” Stephen had shown up with studio full of instruments, did a long trio of pieces (with harmonica, flute, then drums) & a rambling commentary on the Heavenly Gate cult. Jack Rossiter-Munley was back solo with a rocking cover of “You Can Love But You Better Not Touch.”

Steve & Cindy are a local folk duo who did a funny song about taking other people’s money. Lynn Mazza said she hadn’t written a poem in a long time, but was inspired by this event to write “Euphemism” a funny piece on news spins. The night ended with an unusual & entertaining act from an improv group, Playback Theater (Cindy, Janet & Desiree) who acted out feelings called out from the audience: humanitarian love, admiration, lust, anger, shock, & awe/confusion/disgust.

Folks here seemed to have a good time & plans were pondered for another event in the Spring, but for now were part of the international 100 Thousand Poets for Change.

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